It is rare in life, to have events progress unhindered upon a planned route or pathway. There are some things that are simply beyond our control. As the crews who just rowed from Barcelona to Ibiza can attest to, the weather is one of those elements which we simply have no control over and there comes a point when ocean rowers are unable to continue to make progress into the weather.
Determining what the weather was going to do was particularly difficult. The multiple different weather models we assess were all suggesting slightly different wind forecasts. They did however, all suggest the same general trend. On the day of the start (30th July) the forecast called for 5-10kt from the South East offering the crews a great opportunity to start making solid positive progress into the Mediterranean. On the 31st July we are expecting a brief period of 10kt of wind from the East changing to light and variable later but on the 1st and 2nd August the wind speeds in the areas where we would expect the crews to be at that time were for significantly stronger winds from the East and North East peaking at a sustained 20kts in a few areas and gusting stronger for short periods. Having witnessed the effect that wind speeds lighter than this had on the boats participating in the row from Barcelona to Ibiza the support team informed the teams and proposed an alternative plan.
About 100 miles to the west of Barcelona is the Ebro Delta National park. It is a place of incredible natural beauty covering more than 7,500 hectares and is one of the largest river deltas in the Mediterranean. If we were to head north from Ibiza and then set a course from Sant Carles de la Rapita off to the west we would be able to crab across these strong winds rather than try and row directly into them. The plan was proposed to the crews and although they were disappointed not to be targeting Barcelona, there was strong determination amongst the crews to avoid the need to accept a tow. As a support team we wholeheartedly agree with that ethos. If we expect that any boat will be needing a tow then we wouldn’t allow them to start.
So there is a slight alteration to the course for the NOMAN is an Island : Race to End HPV and we will be finishing in Sant Carles de la Rapita rather than Barcelona but this in no way reduces the scale of the challenge ahead of the teams. It will push the teams to their limits and beyond and they are already relishing the challenge ahead of them.