Boats needed to help support world ocean swim contest

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (10/07/00)
By Ray Pendleton

Within Hawaii's boating community, it's not unusual for powerboat owners to feel somewhat in demand.

Nearly all year long, sailing regatta organizers are in need of powerboats to handle race committee duties, such as setting the course markers and providing platforms for judges and the press. Long distance canoe and kayak regattas as well must have powerboats to escort each entry for crew changes and general safety.

But the call for volunteer boat owners that went out recently from the organizers of a swim meet came as something novel.

The six-day meet starts on Oct. 30 and, as you might guess, it's not your average swim meet. Rather it will be the First World Open Water Swimming Championship, authorized by FINA, the world governing body for aquatic sports.

Heralded by USA Swimming as the most important aquatic event of the year, other than the Olympic Games in Australia, it will involve some 500 male and female swimmers from over 50 countries in 5-, 10- and 25-kilometer races. (That's right, I said 25 kilometers - that's like swimming from Hawaii Kai to the Ala Wai.)

FINA has also authorized the inclusion of age-group races on alternating days of the meet. Swimmers from age 10 to no-age-limit masters will be competing in the accompanying 1-, 3- and 5-kilometer races.

Although the race courses will be of various lengths, all will originate and finish at the Hilton Hawaiian Village beach-front pier. And, because it is an open water competition, the swimmers will be racing beyond the reefs of Waikiki.

That's the reason for the request for boats. With hundreds of swimmers of all ages taking on the waves and currents of Mamala Bay, race organizers are looking for boats of all types to insure their safety.

If you own a 20- to 35-foot powerboat, you have the kind of boat the race organizers need the most. Your responsibilities could include observation of race leaders and turn marks, swimmer escort and safety, or press boat operations for about one to three hours a day, except for an eight-hour day for the 25-kilometer race.

A few smaller, fast boats will also be needed for race officials and judges, as well as a couple of large, comfortable cruisers for VIP hospitality and a couple of large-decked work boats for setting up the courses.

Race organizers are also looking for several outrigger canoes and kayaks to help in areas where power boat operations would be hazardous.

Because the organizers understand how important it will be to have a sufficient number of boats involved, they intend to compensate boat owners for the time they commit to the event.

If a boat owner attends the operations briefing and seminar and abides by the terms of compensation, amounts from $100 to $300 per day could be received.

The first race will begin between 8 and 9 a.m. on Oct. 30 and for the following five mornings races will have their starts at nearly the same time.

But, for four days prior to Oct. 30, teams will be training and some boats may be needed as escorts then as well.

If you think you can help make this First FINA World Open Water Swimming Championship a success, give John Kelley a call at 525-8422 and then attend the operations briefing at the University of Hawaii on October 23 at 7 p.m. at the Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex.

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