Channel Swimming With Aloha
The 3rd Annual ʻAu I Nā Mokupuni ʻEkolu Swim Challenge was held September 12th – 15th. Seven swimmers including Ryan Leong, Dr. Steven Minaglia, Stefan Reinke, Alex Webb, 16-year-old Skylar Webb, Joe Zemaitis, and John Zemaitis completed the 3-day, 3-interisland event. Two additional swimmers entered the event with 66-year-old James Tout attempting a crossing of the Kalohi Channel and Paul Towers completing it.
Dr. Minaglia explained the event, “The rules are that ‘we start together, we finish together’ so the official time is set when the last person reaches the high water mark. This is the way for now for a few reasons:
1. Safety. I trust the crew inherently and I have seen some grave mistakes out in our waters. Therefore, I rent just one escort boat. I have now completed 16 channel crossings in Hawaii with the same crew/family.
2. Cost. It is so much less expensive to do ‘group tandem solos’ because the cost of the boat, crew and paddlers gets divided. I don’t think our sport should be prohibitively expensive. Not only do I hope to attract lower resource swimmers (I believe the younger ones with talent and speed in need of bigger goals), but I also hope to attract swimmers from outside Hawaii.
These last 3 years most/all of the swimmers ate together and lived together during the event – over the last 2 years, we stayed on Maui for free.
The most pleasing comments I get are how so-and-so met another swimmer and has now learned of other swims, events, tips, tricks, etc.
I hope to continue to bring swimmers together from diverse backgrounds in order to develop the sport. It has been a great pleasure the last 3 years to share Hawaii swimming with others and do it the way I like it.
This being said, we do spend too much time feeding. I call it ‘talk story’ feeds. Probably 1 hour or more each cross is spent feeding when you get 5-7 people together around a boat, feed, and then leave no trace behind.”
He reported the official 2019 times:
Day 1 across the 14.9 km Kalohi Channel between Lanai and Molokai: 6 hours 4 minutes 40 seconds when winds were up as well as the swells. 9 swimmers started and 8 completed the channel. The kayakers had to abandon their paddling due to strong winds and rough seas shortly before the halfway mark. Swimmers from then on fed from the escort boat.
Day 2 across the 13.5 km Pailolo Channel between Maui and Molokai: 5 hours 50 minutes 10 seconds when conditions were favorable and there was a current pushing north. 7 swimmers started and finished on clean sandy beaches with partial sun, cloudy skies, and gentle trade winds.
Day 3 across the 14.1 km Auau Channel between Lanai and Maui: 7 hours 47 minutes when the winds were blowing at 10-15 knots and ocean was mild. 8 swimmers started and 7 finished. Strong current swept the group far to the West across the channel leading to a long and difficult finish.
The 4th Annual ʻAu I Nā Mokupuni ʻEkolu Swim Challenge is tentatively scheduled for October 2nd-5th 2020.
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