Kiwi's team set California-Hawaii row record

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 13:33 24/07/2014
LAND AHOY: Uniting Nations, with Kiwi Craig Hackett, right taking it easy at the back, approach the finish line in Waikiki.
Great Pacific Race

LAND AHOY: Uniting Nations, with Kiwi Craig Hackett, right taking it easy at the back, approach the finish line in Waikiki.

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New Zealander Craig Hackett has helped a four-man crew establish a record row from California to Hawaii, winning the Great Pacific Race.

The 31-year-old commercial diver from Napier was part of a composite crew calling  themselves Uniting Nations.

They won the race from Monterey to Waikiki, completing the 2100 nautical mile crossing in 43 days, 5 hours and 30 minutes yesterday with Hackett donning an All Blacks singlet for the occasion.

Hackett rowed with Caspar Zafer (UK), Andre Kiers (NL) and Junho Choi (South Korea).

They only met each other when they arrived in Monterey about a month before the June 9 start of the race.

They had all applied separately to be involved in the race and were assigned together as a team by race director Chris Martin.

Hackett said he had some rowing experience and having spent time at see as a diver, decided to enter the race ''to challenge myself."

Race organisers reported their winning effort wasn't without incident. About eight days after leaving the Californian coast, the team's electric water maker broke.

They used a manual hand pump desalinator to turn sea water into drinking water for the rest of their voyage.

And for the final two weeks they had to row without any movement in their front seat. A similar problem hit their second seat.

They were unable to repair either, meaning they had to rely on upper body strength to get them across the finish line.

They operated two-man shifts at the oars, usually for two hours at a time. They often rowed naked to avoid chafing from saltwater-soaked clothing.

They got a good push to the line with favourable winds generated by a tropical storm.

This was the first time a four-person crew had rowed this route.

The previous record for this route was 64 days, set by Hawaiian Mick Bird who rowed it single-handedly in 1997.

Martin, a long-distance rowing legend who has rowed the Atlantic single-handedly and crossed the North Pacific in a two-man boat, was rich in his praise.

''Seeing this record setting team from all corners of the globe arrive in Hawaii, after spending more than a month racing is testament to the power of the human spirit,'' he said.

''They have battled against their peers in other boats, the adverse weather and overcome broken equipment to win. Moments like this remind me of what it's like to be on an ocean and is exactly why I founded this race.'' The race started with 13 boats and was reduced to seven with six of them still at sea.

In late June single rower Jim Bauer, 65, and four-man Team Pacific Rowers had to be rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard after battling big seas.

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