Report - Maui Channel (relay and solo)

Labor Day weekend each year a number of Bay Area swimmers make a 2,300 mile pilgrimage to the annual Maui Channel Relays. This year a spot opened up on one of the teams, so this past weekend I joined Cathy and a few friends for 5 days of swimming, snorkeling, cliff-jumping, exploring, and dining on Maui – including two swims across the channel from Lanai.

September 1 - Maui Channel Relays

Saturday I joined the “Knockout Tanks” - Cathy, Bonnie, Tara, Paul, and Scott - for a 47-team, 9.6-mile race across the channel from Club Lanai to Kaanapali Beach, Maui. We placed 25th/47 despite sitting in place for 23 minutes mid-channel due to one of our swimmers exiting after 7 minutes due to a man-o-war sting. Maui Channel Relay rules allow swimmers to exit the water, but the boat has to remain in neutral until the next leg comes up.

As the leadoff swimmer, I started from the beach next to the Club Lanai pier in glassy conditions. Despite the well-known presence of tiger sharks in these waters, by far the most dangerous part of the swim was this first leg, as 47 leadoff swimmers and their motorized escort boats struggled to find each other.

The trade winds picked up in the last hour before the finish, creating some gloriously choppy conditions. We cleared the water in front of the Kaanapali Beach Hotel after 4 hours, 34 minutes.

GPS track (relay). Unfortunately the GPS failed to connect until ~45 minutes into the race.

GPS track (relay). Unfortunately the GPS failed to connect until ~45 minutes into the race.

September 3 - Maui Channel solo

Two days after the relay, Cathy and I rose early to meet Capt. Phil for a pre-dawn cruise across the channel. Starting an hour earlier (7:05 rather than 8:00) made all the difference in conditions as I beat the worst of the trade winds and cleared the water at 10:33am.

Official time 3:28:30, ratified by the Hawaii Channel Swimming Association.