Rowing: Gales hold back rowers

By Joanne Carroll

Team Gallagher. Photo / Supplied
Team Gallagher. Photo / Supplied

Yachting legend Sir Peter Blake's son James spent his 25th birthday yesterday in a boat drifting round in circles as he attempts to row across the Tasman Sea.

He is with a team of Kiwi rowers who left in their boat Moana from the Sydney Harbour Bridge 35 days ago.

Team Gallagher members Nigel Cherrie, Martin Berka, Andrew McCowan and James Blake were aiming to row to the Auckland Harbour Bridge but have been set back by storms that have blown them backwards.

Mentor Rob Hamill, the veteran ocean rower, said the team had been holed up in the boat for about a week waiting out the bad weather - 40 knot winds and 5m swells.

"The boys have been sitting like caged animals on Para-Anchor sea anchor for the past seven days at the mercy of the weather," Hamill said.

"They are not happy. They are up and down and finding it mentally very difficult to see how far away they are.

"They have been pushed back considerably. They have had a lot of gear and a mast broken."

However, a break in the bad conditions was forecast and a window of opportunity was opening up to allow them to "make a dash for Cape Reinga".

"The wind is abating, the current is favourable, the boys are rested, it's time to come home. As the guys celebrate James Blake's 25th birthday and we all bid goodbye to 2011, we hope and pray that the Tasman will come to the party," he said.

The team had travelled 2061km and were 720km from Cape Reinga, which in the right conditions should take them up to five days.

However, the closest they had been to the cape was 635km.

- Herald on Sunday

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