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Monday, November 7, 2011

Just Follow Captain Bob In The Santa Barbara Channel

Captain Bob Andrieux and First Mate Mike Bewley are the undefeated escort pilots of the Santa Barbara Channel island swims. He has been running the Tuna Thumper out of the Ventura Harbor for 22 years. He helps escort swimmers to, from, around and between the seven islands in the Santa Barbara Channel.

What is unique about Captain Bob is that he does not charge if the swimmer chooses not to start. Captain Bob and Mike have done 15 channel swims and all of them have been successful - 100% success.

"I love the ocean. Channel swimming appeals to me rather than fishing."

Marcia Cleveland summarizes what the Santa Barbara Channel swimming community thinks about Captain Bob and Mike's efforts, “Our swim went like clockwork. They were well-prepared and [the swim] was very well-rehearsed. I always knew Captain Bob and Mike were there. They were a comforting presence. They were not hovering (above us), but they escorted us like it is supposed to be.”

Scott Zornig, President of the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association, echoes the sentiments of others who have had the good fortune to be escorted by Captain Bob. “These guys are great. They are passionate and knowledgeable. They won’t collect any money unless the swimmer starts. They will take a swimmer out [to one of the Santa Barbara Channel islands] and make sure everything is right with and for the swimmer. They are very easy to work with.”

Their 100% success record is telling of their passion, knowledge and selection of the conditions with which the swimmer attempts one of the Santa Barbara Channel swims.“ We try to make everyone at home, keeping things light,” beamed Captain Bob, a man who possesses an ideal amount of humor and seasoned maritime knowledge. “We have been taking fisherman, tours, Navy divers and swimmers out to the Channel islands for 22 years.”

While Mike makes the support crew and kayakers feel comfortable and safe, Captain Bob drives his dual-engine 42-foot Tuna Thumper deftly under his command at 1-2 knots, both in rough and calm conditions. “I set the course and keep working both engines, keeping the boat straight for the swimmer. I put the boat in neutral, forward, reverse, using several GPS systems, to keep on that line. If the swimmer goes off-course, I try to bring them back to the line.”

With his eyes constantly analyzing the swimmer and the elements, Captain Bob prefers to take swimmers during daytime hours. “The conditions in the Santa Barbara Channel are unpredictable with the winds blowing between the Channel islands and the shape of the coastline. We go out before daybreak and try to be in position for the swimmer to get that ‘pump’ as the sun rises. Everyone gets it. It is so beautiful as the sun rises over the horizon."

When they first started working the Santa Barbara Channel, every swimmer wanted to start at night, a desire born out of the traditional starting time of Catalina Channel attempts. “It just feels more claustrophobic at night. People get more sick [with the rocking of the boat]. We prefer to escort with the light of day. It makes it so much easier for everyone and as soon as the sun comes up, everyone gets energized.”

Sunrise gets everyone’s adrenaline going,” agreed Mike. Without having to deal with the witching hour (between 3 – 5 am), the northern Channel Islands swimming community can avoid the gremlins of the dark.

But sometimes, Plan A proves unfeasible and the Captain and crew move to Plan B and, occassionaly, Plan C. “In the case of Jim Neitz’s last swim from Anacapa Island, he was getting pushed all over the place. We had to change plans and I told him to just follow me. We were going to go with the current. We eventually landed 7 miles north of the place where we originally planned. In the 58° water, I knew which was the current was pushing Mike and knew that he could do it.”

We try to find the comfort zone for each swimmer. Sometimes, I ask the kayakers to bring the swimmers closer to the boat. Sometimes, the kayakers do it themselves. Sometimes, we see dolphins, sea lions and run into jellyfish. When we are all doing our job, we are working together as a team,” explained Captain Bob whose respect for the sea and the swimmers is oozing from his being. “I love the water. I love going out in the water. And these swimmers are inspirational. We have never seen anything or anyone as inspirational as these swimmers."

Captain Bob orchestrates graceful synchronicity out in the channel. Just follow.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source

2 comments:

  1. Hi Steve - Bob's last name is Andrieux.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Also, Mike's nickname is Three-ring Mike. You will understand when you meet him!
    :)

    ReplyDelete

Thank you very much for your interest in the world of open water swimming.

The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference

Learn more...
Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE

The Global Open Water Swimming Conference is a conference on the sport of open water swimming, marathon swimming and swimming during triathlons and multi-sport endurance events.

The conference which has been attended by enthusiasts and luminaries from 6 continents, is devoted to providing information about the latest trends, race tactics, training techniques, equipment, psychological preparation, race organization and safety practices used in the sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons.

The conference's mission is to provide opportunities to listen and meet many of the world's most foremost experts in open water swimming, and to meet and discuss the sport among swimmers, coaches, administrators, event organizers, sponsors, vendors, officials, escort pilots, and volunteers from kayakers to safety personnel.

Dozens of presentations at the 2014 Conference at the Mount Stuart House cover numerous aspects of the vast and growing world of open water swimming where attendees can learn and share the latest trends, race tactics, training modalities, swimming techniques, equipment, race organization, logistics, operations, and safety practices for open water swimming as a solo swimmer, competitive athlete, fitness swimmer, masters swimmer, triathlete, multi-sport athlete, administrator, race promoter, sponsor or referee.

The conference was first held in Long Beach, California as part of the 2010 USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Championships. It has since been held on the Queen Mary in California, at Columbia University and the United Nations in New York City, and in Cork, Ireland. This year in September, it comes to another iconic location, the Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

"The Global Open Water Swimming Conference was started due to the desire and need for athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, race directors, promoters and sponsors from around the world to share, collect and learn information about the growing sports of open water swimming, marathon swimming and triathlons," said founder Steven Munatones. "Other swimming conferences usually offering nothing on open water swimming or perhaps a speech or two, but we thought open water swimming deserves its own global conference. It is great that the community shares its information via the online social network, but there is nothing like meeting other open water swimming enthusiasts face-to-face and talking about the sport from morning to night."

Speakers at the conference include English Channel swimmers, ice swimmers, record holders, renowned coaches, world champions, professional marathon swimmers, renowned race directors, officials and administrators from the Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

"Because the audience is passionate and educated about the sport and its finest practitioners, the Global Open Water Swimming Conference is also the location of the induction ceremonies for the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and the annual WOWSA Awards that recognize the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, the World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year, and the World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year. Special Lifetime Achievement Awards are also occasionally presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the sport over their career."

The 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference Programme

Wednesday, September 17th
Leave Glasgow to commence 2-day tour of Scotland [closest international airport is Glasgow]

Thursday, September 18th
Stay Mainland, North of Scotland

Friday, September 19th
14:00 - Swim Loch Lomond
17:00 - Head to Isle of Bute
19:30 - Scottish Banquet
21:30 - Dinner Dance

Saturday, September 20th
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
12:20 - Lunch and WOWSA Awards
13:40 – Speeches
15:40 - Round Table
19:00 - International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Dinner & Induction Ceremony

Sunday, September 21st
09:00 - Registration & Coffee
10:00 - Speeches
14:30 - Swim in St Ninian's Bay on the Isle of Bute

The luminaries of the open water swimming world who will be honored in Scotland will include:

* Sandra Bucha (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Jon Erikson (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Claudio Plit (Argentina), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Judith van Berkel-de Njis (Netherlands), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* David Yudovin (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Mercedes Gleitze (Great Britain), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* George Young (Canada), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Swimmer
* Dale Petranech (U.S.A.), International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Open Water Contributor
* Melissa Cunningham (Australia), 2013 Irving Davids-Captain Roger Wheeler Memorial Award winner
* Vojislav Mijić (Serbia), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* James Anderson (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Dr. Jane Katz (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Administrator
* Indonesian Swimming Federation, , International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Organisation
* Elizabeth Fry (U.S.A.), International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer
* Pádraig Mallon (Ireland), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year
* Olga Kozydub (Russia), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year
* Bering Strait Swim (international team), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Performance of the Year
* International Ice Swimming Association (Ram Barkai, founder, South Africa), the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year

For additional articles on the 2014 Global Open Water Swimming Conference, visit:

* Olga Kozydub To Be Honored In Scotland
* Pádraig Mallon To Be Honored In Mount Stuart Castle
* Mount Stuart House, Splendid Setting For Swimming
* Colleen Blair To Kick-off Global Open Water Swimming Conference
* The Man Who Swims Better Than He Walks
* Joining In The Sea Goddess At The Hall Of Fame
* Mercedes Gleitze To Be Honored In Scotland
* The Incredible Career Of Merceded Gleitze
* Jon Erikson To Be Honoured In Florida
* The Incredible Career Of Mercedes Gleitze
* St Ninian's Bay To Host International Swim Conference

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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