Joel Wilson - Maui Channel

Lanai to Maui

17.3 km (10.7 miles)

4 hours, 31 minutes on 3 September 2019

Observed and documented by Cynthia Hertzer



  • Name: Joel Wilson
  • Gender: male
  • Age on swim date: 70
  • Nationality: United Staes
  • Resides: Santa Cruz, California

Support Personnel

  • Keith Baxter - pilot
  • Kathy Hertzer - crew, doctor
  • Cynthia Hertzer - observer, crew

Escort Vessel: Big Wave (Mala Ramp, Maui)

Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: Swimsuit, goggles, latex cap

Route Definition

Club Lanai to Ka’anapali Beach

  • Body of Water: ‘Au’au (Maui) Channel, Pacific Ocean
  • Route Type: one-way
  • Start Location: Club Lanai, Island of Lanai (20.82847, -156.80986)
  • Finish Location: Kahekili (Airport) Beach, Island of Maui (20.939553, -156.692731)
  • Route Distance:
    • Minimum channel distance: 14.2 km (8.8 miles)
    • Straight line between start location and finish location: 17.3 km (10.75 miles)


LongSwimsDB: Auau Channel

Swim Data

  • Start: 3 September 2019, 06:31:34 (Pacific/Honolulu, UTC-10).
  • Finish: 3 September 2019, 11:03:18
  • Elapsed: 4 hours, 31 minutes, 35 seconds.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (C) 29 30
Air Temp (C)    
Wind (Beaufort scale) 0 1 (NW)

From NOAA buoy 51213:

GPS Track

Trackpoint frequency: 15 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).

Speed Plot

Nutrition: Accelerade (lemon-lime flavor), Accel gels (chocolate, vanilla, espresso)

Observer Log

Download PDF


I started this swim with the goal in mind to get across as quickly as possible. Three days previously I had participated in this same swim with a relay team from the South End Rowing Club. For the relay, we had 2.5 hours of beautiful water and weather, cruising along nicely.

Then, the wind and current took over the swim and made it something completely different. The current was later described as the strongest ever in the history of the Maui Channel Relay. Winds were consistently 12-15 mph with gusts to 20 mph. These were the conditions for the last three hours of the swim. The ocean turned into the proverbial washing machine and we did a lot of swimming in place while getting pushed north of Black Rock.

There were, I believe, thirty-eight relay teams (and a few solo swimmers) participating that day. Due to the challenging conditions, only five teams finished the swim. Our SERC team was one of those teams. Our time was about 5:40.

With that in mind, I knew I had to keep up as fast a pace as possible because the conditions could change within a few minutes.  The current kicked in at about 2 hours but the wind did not come up.  My swim was very different than the relay swim.  Without the wind I only had to contend with the strong, about 4 mph, current.

I swam for another 2.5 hours, got pushed about 1500 meters north of Black Rock, and, realizing I would not get back to the traditional finish at Kaanapali Beach, I swam east until landing on shore, clambering across some slippery rocks below a condo, somewhere in the vicinity of Airport Blvd.

Total time: 4:31


Click to enlarge.