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Saturday, April 11, 2015

What If? In The Molokai Channel

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The Moloka’i Channel, also known as the Ka’iwi Channel, is 26 miles (42 km) of currents, winds, waves, and marine life.

One of the Oceans Seven channels, it is a difficult challenge only achieved 36 times in history (see below).

There has been no one else who has crossed the Channel of Bones in the open water swimming world more than the fearless duo escort kayakers Jeff Kozlovich and Steve Haumschild.

They have a unique perspective of swimming and escorting across the Molokai Channel:

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What are the countermeasures in case of a shark encounter (I.e., when a shark passes by or under the swimmer)?

Jeff Kozlovich: While waiting at the Honolulu Airport headed to Molokai with Bill Goding and Forrest Nelson, I finally got the chance to ask, "What do you want me to do if I see a shark?"

Bill replied, "I don't want to know about it." Our job as guides involves managing risk. We CANNOT eliminate it. And everyone has their own idea of how much shark risk they want to take. Some don't want to even think about it. Much of this swim is in the dark. No one would even see a shark, including the swimmer. If the swimmer sees one in daylight, they have to make a quick decision. If we see one (they are very difficult to see even in the light), same thing - a quick decision. Stay in the water or get in the boat? We don't want to ever end any one's swim, but in the case of dangerous sharks, you are getting in the boat.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What do you do in case of a shark attack out in the channel?

Jeff Kozlovich: If there were a shark attack in the channel, we'd call for Coast Guard help and get back to shore ASAP. It could be a while out in a crazy, wild ocean with a badly injured swimmer; could be 4, 5 or more hours to the hospital.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: When some attempt their channel swims in Hawaii, they are stung. What are these dreaded creatures?

Jeff Kozlovich: Penny Palfrey was hit by( or ran into the Portuguese man o war. Both box jellies and man o war are in all waters around Hawaii.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How do you get a swimmer off Molokai and on to Oahu when the surf is large?

Jeff Kozlovich: If surf is large, we for sure only start in daylight. La'au Point is the closest part of Molokai to Oahu and its also the southwestern corner. In the summer half of the year, surf is bigger on Molokai's south shore, so we would start a mile or so around the corner on the west side. It is the opposite in winter. We haven't had it big on both shores yet, but it could happen. We'd just have to wait [offshore].

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What are the general size of the ocean swells in Kaiwi when the swells are large (in feet)?

Jeff Kozlovich: It's almost scary to think about it but swells can get to 25 feet. Those are the big North swells from storms in the North Pacific. But south swells can get big too. There are lots of good pics online of the BIG south swell at the start of the Molokai Channel canoe race.

Successful Molokai Channel Crossings in History:
1. 1961 - Keo Nakama (age 40), finished in Hanauma Bay, 15 hours 30 minutes
2. 1967 - Harry Huffaker (age 27), 13 hours 35 minutes
3. 1972 - Harry Huffaker (age 32) from Oahu to Molokai, 16 hours 15 minutes
4. 1974 - Jonathan Ezer (age 18), 13 hours 4 minutes
5. 1979 - Michael Miller (age 25), 16 hours 50 minutes
6. 1979 - Ian Emberson (age 28), 16 hours 50 minutes
7. 1994 - Robin Isayama (age 26) first female, 15 hours 21 minutes
8. 2006 - Forrest Nelson (age 40) from Oahu to Molokai, 16 hours 36 minutes
9. 2006 - Forrest Nelson (age 41), 15 hours 55 minutes
10. 2006 - Bill Goding (age 53), 15 hours 55 minutes
11. 2007 - Mike Spalding (age 60), finished in Hanauma Bay, 15 hours 15 minutes
12. 2007 - Kelly Gleason (age 32), finished in Hanauma Bay, 15 hours 15 minutes
13. 2007 - Linda Kaiser (age 57), 15 hours 0 minutes
14. 2009 - Mackenzie Miller (age 18), 14 hours 52 minutes
15. 2010 - Chris Palfrey (age 52), 12 hours 53 minutes
16. 2011 - Tina Neill, 17 hours 17 minutes
17. 2011 - Forrest Nelson (age 46), 17 hours 17 minutes
18. 2011 - Darren Miller (age 28), 12 hours 12 minutes
19. 2011 - Michelle Macy, 14 hours 12 minutes
20. 2011 - Anna-Carin Nordin, 18 hours 22 minutes
21. 2011 - Samantha Simon, 13 hours 41
22. 2011 - Penny Palfrey (age 49), 12 hours 7 minutes
23. 2012 - Stephen Redmond (age 46), finished at China Walls in Maunalua Bay, 22 hours 30 minutes
24. 2012 - Adam Walker, finished near Diamond Head volcano, 17 hours 1 minutes
25. 2012 - Michael Ventre, finished at China Walls in Maunalua Bay, 22 hours 30 minutes
26. 2012 - Kathleen Wilson, 20 hours 49 minutes
27. 2012 - Oliver Wilkenson, 13 hours 5 minutes
28. 2012 - Kimberley Chambers, finished at China Walls in Maunalua Bay, 19 hours 27 minutes
29. 2012 - Beth French (age 35), 24 hours 10 minutes
30. 2013 - Leahi Camacho (age 17), 14 hours 43 minutes
31. 2013 - Katie Benoit, 18 hours 0 minutes
32. 2014 - Yesenia Cabrera Fuegos (age 41), 16 hours 50 minutes
33. 2014 - Cameron Keith (age 15), 13 hours 55 minutes
34. 2014 - Victoria Rian (age 47), 14 hours 42 minutes
35. 2014 - Jim Barber (age 54), 14 hours 42 minutes
36. 2014 - Rohan More, 17 hours 28 minutes

Photo shows Cameron Keith with his escort kayaker Jeff Kozlovich.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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