5 rowers rescued in rough seas off California during race to Hawaii

The U.S. Coast Guard rescued five rowers participating in the Great Pacific Race to Hawaii over the weekend as they attempted to make their way through choppy waters and high winds off the Central California coastline.

The first rescue came early Saturday, when a group of four rowers issued a distress call after their 24-foot English rowboat began taking on water, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.


The team was participating in the 2,400-mile race, which started in Monterey on June 7 and ends 30 to 90 days later in Honolulu.

Rescuers tried reaching the rowers, but high winds and rough seas made the mission impossible. A Coast Guard helicopter from San Francisco and C-130 plane from Sacramento found the rowers 75 miles west of San Luis Obispo.

The rowers were taken to a local hospital, where they received medical aid and appeared to be in "good condition," the Coast Guard said.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Leon, an Air Station San Francisco rescue swimmer, said in a statement, "surviving the night in those conditions would have been difficult."

Then on Sunday, Coast Guard crews rescued a solo rower 52 miles west of Morro Bay after he reported capsizing several times in rough seas about 2 a.m.

The Coast Guard remained in contact with the rower until they reached him about 6:12 a.m., hoisted him into a helicopter and took him to a nearby airport, where medical crews were on standby.

The rower, who was in stable condition, was "well prepared" for the race -- including filing a float plan and packing a satellite phone -- increasing his chance for survival, Lt. Cmdr. Blake McKinney said in a statement.

For breaking news in Los Angeles and California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA, or email her at