Epic Swim Maui – Breath of Awareness
A journey once around the heart of the ocean
Hawaii considers itself the heart of the Pacific Ocean, the largest ocean on our planet. The indigenous people have strong cultural ties to the sea, and Hawaii also holds a special place in the modern aquatic world. Surfing became popular here with spectacular images that went around the world.
Thanks to the strong winds in the Hawaiian Islands, windsurfing was invented here. Today, kitesurfing is a sport where you can be pulled across the water on a board. Recently, the surfer does not have to have contact with the water at all: With the foil, you fly over the water, the sail only held in your hand without the mast. This is called "winging".
A big show, but very little real relationship with the sea
Behind the pictures showing the surfer in a big wave, several jet skis, countless escort boats and drones are waiting in the air, photographers crowded together. There are agreements as to who may ride which wave and when. Waves are "stolen" by surfers who push in, who want the perfect picture, because there is a lot of money and recognition at stake. More and more material, higher and higher waves, more and more circus – but with the image of the "Waterman", of the relationship to the ocean, of the magic of past days, this has not much to do anymore.
Robby Seeger (52 years old), former world champion in windsurfing and living on Maui as a single father for more than 35 years, has had enough of that. He observes the development with concern. People have moved too far away from the sea, from nature. He himself doesn't like it either. And he is not alone in this. Windsurfing legends like Robby Naish, who also lives in Hawaii, confirm: "Most of us can't even swim properly. Yet swimming is the purest, most honest way for a human being to be close to the ocean. Just swim. Just in swimming trunks.
Once around the island - a demonstration for the ocean
Seeger, who also campaigns for the environmental protection on the Hawaiian Islands, developed the idea of swimming around his adopted home of Maui. It should be an event with an external effect, something that makes people stop. A demonstration for the ocean.
Hawaii has always been a pioneer in environmental protection. In 2015, plastic bags were banned here – a first in the U.S., which many countries have followed. Now the Pacific state is taking another step. Sunscreens containing additives such as zinc, which has been proven to damage corals, are being consistently removed from sale and their distribution and use is also banned in Hawaii. With around 15 million visitors a year, this is no small matter. The University of Hawaii has invested a lot of energy and research in this regard and supports the development of new mineral-based ingredients with your work.
Currents, cliffs, sharks - a stretch of extremes
Seeger does not dare to swim around Maui all my himself. Normally no one goes into the water here: too dangerous, currents too strong, extreme winds, rough coastline with jagged lava cliffs, some of which rise hundreds of meters vertically into the sea. Large sharks have their territories here and patrol the coasts.
"There are sections here where no human has ever been in the water" says Rodney Kilborn, a representative of Hawaiian culture who is deeply rooted in the island. It takes someone with that very special connection to the ocean. Aside from the athletic challenge, he says, it's a spiritual journey, and it takes someone with a special gift to even tackle something like this, let alone master such a pioneering project. From Hawaii, they set out on a quest and land directly and without detours on my doorstel in Paderborn. Isn't that crazy?!
"Man of the Ocean" for Maui
I was surprised when the call came from Hawaii, feeling deep respect and gratitude. To hear that I am the one who is closest to the Pacific Ocean, that touched me deeply; but that's basically the way it is.
There is a lot of work ahead of us, because a project like this requires intensive preparation. It's good that I can rely on my proven team of current experts, navigators and seamen. Data collection and evaluation, forecasts for wind and sea weather and, of course, training for this enormous load, over many days, are now on the agenda for the coming months.
As an ocean ambassador, I share my experiences in the open ocean dealing directly with littering, overfishing and global warming. As a keynote speaker at companies and organizations, I appeal to people without accusation. To make a lasting change, we must first understand the current situation and then initiate the right solutions. We need to understand and comprehend what we have done and unfortunately are still doing to the oceans. The ocean suffers silently and invisibly. The sunrise the morning after looks just as beautiful as the day before, no matter how much pollutants, or garbage man has introduced, no matter how many species have been wiped out by blind greed.
Swimming for science
Research ships are equipped with measuring probes to record these very changes, but these deployments are expensive and complex. In addition, the large ships do not reach the direct coastal region, between reefs where rivers flow into the sea. My idea of collecting scientific data within my expeditions and making it available to universities and marine institutes will be implemented with the next project. More about that soon.
The project "epic swim Maui - breath of awareness" is scheduled to start in July 2023.