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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Friendly Isle Says Aloooooha To Oliver Wilkinson

In order for Oliver Wilkinson to swim from The Friendly Isle (Molokai) to The Gathering Place (Oahu), he had to swim across the 42 km (26-mile) Channel of Bones (Molokai Channel).

Fortunately, there would be no bone-crushing swim for Wilkinson on this day...although it may have appeared to start that way and could have ended up similarly.

Early this morning in the dark of night, Wilkinson, Captain Matt Buckman, kayaker Jeff Kozlovich and his team sped towards Laau Point, the traditional starting point for attempts across the Molokai Channel. But in the pitch darkness of the wee hours of the morning, the sound of the bone-crushing waves told the story of the dangers of a start at Laau Point.

The north swells were frightfully huge. For Wilkinson and his crew to get from the escort boat to rough shore at night through the massive ocean swells smashing upon the western coast of Molokai was just too risky and could have ended up in disaster.

There had to be another way.

With magnificent conditions and low winds predicted for later in the day, Wilkinson's team was intent on finding a safe spot to start his Molokai Channel swim. The escort team took some time, but later found a much safer place south of Laau Point. They were able to get him in and out of a protected cove easily enough.

As predicted, the Kona winds were nearly non-existent throughout the morning hours while Wilkinson enjoyed a glorious send-off from The Friendly Isle. To describe his swim as smooth was an understatement. In the afternoon, the winds picked up in order to give Wilkinson a bit more of a challenge in his traverse across the 700m deep channel. While he didn't encounter any "big boys", he was stung a few times as a stark reminder that everything would not be as easy as his morning hours in the royal blue ocean.

Just as the huge Hawaiian surf sent him off from Molokai, so did the large waves greet him upon his arrival on Oahu. "As they approached Sandy Beach [on Oahu], the tide began going down," explained Linda Kaiser, the renowned channel swimmer from Hawaii. "It resulted in a slower swim into the beach, but Oliver exited the water during a big set. He thought it 'was fun'."

Tied for 16th in the Oceans Seven rankings, the world record holder around Manhattan Island started at 3:40 am and finished at 4:44 pm for a 13 hour 4 minutes crossing to become the 26th person in history to traverse the Molokai Channel.

Report courtesy of Linda Kaiser.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source

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