It was an unusual year in the Hawaiian islands. There were 17 channel attempts and 17 successes. It is an unusual year with a 100% success rate.
The success probably had several factors working in its favor:
1. The quality of the athletes. Most of the athletes have spent significant time in the oceans and have proven themselves in the open water.
2. The experience of the athletes and crews. The athletes were not only prepared well, but they were assisted experienced crew and expert local pilots.
3. The cancellation of the solo division at the Maui Channel Swim. The Maui Channel Swim had annually drawn a number of swimmers to its annual race where not everyone always finished, but it was cancelled in 2012.
There are 9 main channels in the Hawaiian Islands that individuals attempt to swim: Auau Channel (or the Maui Channel), Kalohi Channel, Alalakeiki Channel, Pailolo Channel, Alenuihaha Channel, Kaulakahi Channel, Kealaikahiki Channel, Kaiwi Channel (or Moloka’i Channel) and the Kaieiewaho Channel.
In terms of distance, location and number of successful channel swimmers, this is the documented record:
1. Alalakeiki Channel: 7 miles (11.2 km) between Kahoolawe and Maui. 13 successes.
2. Pailolo Channel: 8.4 miles (13.5 km) between Maui and Molokai. 31 successes.
3. Kalohi Channel: 9.3 miles (14.9 km) between Lanai and Molokaʻi. 23 successes.
4. Maui Channel (Auau Channel): 8.8 miles between Lānaʻi and Maui, although a popular course is the 9.6-mile (15.4 km) stretch of the Maui Channel Swim course. Hundreds have attempted the channel with a recorded 313 successes.
5. Kaulakahi Channel: 17 mile (27.3 km) between Kauai and Niihau. 8 successes.
6. Kealaikahiki Channel: 17 mile (27.3 km) between Kahoolawe and Lanai. 5 successes.
7. Molokai Channel (Kaiwi Channel): 26 miles (42 km) between Molokai and Oahu. Dozens of attempts with 26 successes.
8. Alenuihaha Channel: 30 miles (48.2 km) between Hawaii and Maui. Several attempts made, but only 4 have made it (Mike Spalding, Linda Kaiser, Penny Palfrey, and Harry Huffaker).
9. Kaieiewaho Channel (or the Kaua’i Channel): 72 miles (115.8 km) between Oahu and Kauai. 3 attempts made (one by Jonathan Ezer and two by Penny Palfrey), but no one has made it more than halfway.
In 2012, the recorded successful channel crossings included:
Maui Channel: 2 with Bill Goding and Evan Morrison
Molokai Channel: 5 with Stephen Redmond, Adam Walker, Michael Ventre, Kathleen Wilson, Oliver Wilkinson
Kalohi Channel: 4 with Steve Minaglia, Scott Harvey, Craig Coombs, Amol Adhav
Kaulakahi Channel: 3 with Bill Goding, Forrest Nelson, Tina Neill
Pailolo Channel: 3 with Steve Minalia, Scott Harvey, Craig Coombs.
Photo of Marjorie Boor, volunteer at The Marine Mammal Center, shows a relay crossing of the Maui Channel in 2010, copyright of The Marine Mammal Center.
Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association