Big wave ends big dream
The dreams of rowing across the Pacific Ocean were upended Saturday morning. Erin Hammer and Brainerd High School graduate Ryan Foss had to abandon their quest in the Great Pacific Race after a big wave briefly capsized their 24-foot boat. Waves ...
The dreams of rowing across the Pacific Ocean were upended Saturday morning.
Erin Hammer and Brainerd High School graduate Ryan Foss had to abandon their quest in the Great Pacific Race after a big wave briefly capsized their 24-foot boat. Waves were routinely reported in the 10-foot range.
About 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning, the Endurance Limits USA team was preparing for the day when they saw the wave coming.
"The winds and waves were high. But we were excited for a big day as the previous day was our biggest day yet and we were anxious to keep at it," they stated in a Facebook post. Hammer was getting coffee and breakfast ready and Foss was rowing.
"... A wave came upon us that we both knew was not good. It rolled us into the water capsizing the boat. The boat righted itself immediately as it is designed to do. Which is good. We expected to roll at some point. So fine. After surfacing from underwater, Erin yelled to Ryan-'I think I broke my wrist.'"
Hammer sheltered in the cabin as they assessed the situation. Following their training and after consulting with the medical team, they splinted her wrist on the boat. They determined additional medical treatment was needed.
"All the planning and preparations for this row over the past year and a half came down to the fact that it is impossible to row with a broken wrist," they stated.
In the capsizing, they took on 6 inches of water in the bow cabin, but other than losing a few belongings, reported the boat was in good shape.
Foss set the sea anchor. They planned to evacuate Hammer and for Foss to continue solo, but the Coast Guard reported it would not support a solo rower. They tried to replace Hammer with a rower from another team that dropped out of the race.
"That looked promising," Hammer and Foss stated on Facebook. "But in the end that didn't work either."
Then came the difficult decision on Monday to suspend the race after rowing 207 nautical miles on day nine of the Great Pacific Race.
The United States Coast Guard deployed an M860 Jayhawk U.S. Coast Guard helicopter to the position of the specialized ocean rowing boat, the Mugatu. The Great Pacific Race support vessel Galen Diana was also standing by in the area.
"It eventually came down to us both being evac'd out of the boat via helicopter with a diver and cage. Just like the movies. We were transported to Santa Barbara hospital where Erin does indeed have a broken and mangled wrist. She needs to see an orthopedic surgeon next. But is doing well. We both had steak last night. A nice alternative to freeze dried Forever Mac and Cheese."
Now the focus is getting their boat, the Mugatu, back from its anchor point some 1,967 nautical miles short of its goal in Waikiki. The Great Pacific Race organization reported arrangements are underway to recover the Mugatu.
In their Facebook post Tuesday about the experience, Foss and Hammer stated: "First and foremost, let us say thank you to everyone. The outpouring of support from our friends and family since our evac from the boat has been incredible. We are blessed to have such a supportive community and believe us, it's humbling."
The result, they stated was "incredibly disappointing. You put so much time and effort into something. Training, planning, blood sweat and, seriously, tears. So many people are supporting and rooting for you. Family is worried about you. And then a wrist breaks. Seems so simple when you write it-you can't row with a broken wrist."
Hammer and Foss noted the reality is they are OK beyond a bruised ego. Hammer was released from the hospital.
"You can't be afraid to fail when you take on things of this magnitude," the Minnesota rowers reported. "We put it all out there. We feel good about the effort we put in. We're safe and will be just fine. But things happen that you can't control. You get up, and you move on."
As of Tuesday, six of the eight teams that started the race are continuing on. The Endurance Limits UK team, which inspired Hammer and Foss in the first place, also had to retire their effort after 241 nautical miles.
Hammer and Foss reported they are grateful that, despite this turn of events, they were able to raise more than $150,000 for children's hospitals across the country.
The Great Pacific Race from Monterey, Calif., to Waikiki, Hawaii, covers about 2,400 miles as two people cross the ocean, self-supported at sea for up to 80 days.
Asked in a Dispatch interview about his concerns before the race began, Foss said: "My biggest concern is that something happens that we haven't planned for. How will we react. Which will happen. My biggest hope is that we raise a lot of funding and awareness for children's hospitals and that my two boys get inspired to dream big."
It appears both Foss' concern and his hope came to pass.
RENEE RICHARDSON, associate editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or email@example.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz .