With just over 24 hours since the boats arrived in Ibiza they were departing again racing back to the mainland. The rowers and support team worked tirelessly to ensure that any damage sustained to the boats prior to their arrival in Ibiza was mended and any lost items were replaced. That allowed the support team to sign the boats off as ready to depart but the crews also needed to demonstrate that they were ready and prepared enough to take on the challenge. After a number of additional safety checks both for the crews and the boats as well as a crew and a separate skippers briefing the crews were ready to depart. Just after 14:00 local time the crews pushed off from their moorings at Santa Eulalia des Riu, Ibiza and headed for the start line slightly outside the breakwater.
At 15:15 the support yacht Rozamar sounded the starting horn and the crews leapt off the start line with the first waypoint at the easternmost point of Ibiza, firmly in their sights (and programmed into their GPS units). For the first time this year we have two all-female crews participating in the NOMAN is an Island : Race to End HPV. Both crews have four ladies onboard and the other two boats have five men. Nevertheless despite having one less ‘man’ power the TP ICAP and GS Gives teams skippered by Elena Oyon and Dianne Carrington have been fighting for the lead since the start.
After rounding the end of Ibiza the crews adjusted their course more to the north and started to take advantage of the light following winds touching impressive speeds of up to 4kts. As darkness fell team Tradition skippered by Pacific Ocean rower Darren Taylor took a small lead of less than a mile over Team BA and Team TP ICAP who were hot on their heels.
Throughout the night the lead exchanged hands multiple times between Team BA, Team Tradition and Team TP ICAP with Team GS Gives only a handful of miles behind aware that this event is all about endurance rather than a sprint.
All crews have also had to contend with significant commercial shipping and the support yacht Rozamar has been on station throughout the night to ensure the safe passage of the boats through these busy waters. All crews are aware of the risks that commercial ships present and on occasion this means crews stop rowing for a brief period to allow a large vessel to pass, before continuing.
As we write, Team BA have just put in a mammoth push to take a slim advantage but all other teams have responded in kind with their own increase in pace before the real heat of the day kicks in. We’re starting to see the boat speeds now up to 5kts which is incredible and could see the first crews arrive on the mainland as early as tomorrow morning.