Caution to divers during coastal distance races!

Spoke with the DLNR/Marine Unit Enforcement and during the Duke Kahanamoku Race many escort boats and canoes got too close to divers off of Portlock and Waikiki. Some divers off of Portlock were instructed to dry dock themselves to avoid getting runned over and the Marine Unit's vessel had to post themselves in front of the divers. These are areas where there's a lot of recreational and vendor type divers, especially if its calm to moderate conditions. So when you see a red buoy floating, inform captains, operators, and steersman and women to be very careful because our sport, community, and hosting club doesn't need to have someone seriously injured or death during one of our events.

Example, the unfortunate incident involving the canoe sliding off the trailer and into the driver resulting in a fatality. Brought bad publicity to our sport and community and monetary loss. If something occurred in the water during a race, we're just adding more ammunition for DLNR to place more restrictions or even cancellation to the races. Please be diligent and aware of other ocean users.


Submitted by Bamskii on Wed, 08/18/2010 - 9:18am

Carlton just a question, when the permits are pulled for these races who notifies these people that there is a race, where the permits are for and what vessels will be traveling through that area. It seems like when there are marathons people are notified of the places that will be blocked and alternate routes to use. Since OHCRA is paying for a permit don't they and the boats racing have the right of way. ( Of course were not gonna run people over, but who polices the people that are in the way of a race/ clears the course??)

#1 Wed, 08/18/2010 - 10:35am

Aloha Jimmy,

In regards to marathons, the race board should be responsible for the logistics and advertisement of the event. Sometimes if its a large event, you can't get the permits without pitching the event to a permit board of whatever agency and possibly during community board meetings to have it scrutinize. Land events involving road closures for a long period of time could affect businesses that run along the course. But once you are eligible to apply for permits (all depends on what kind of information the permit requires) you'll probably articulate the route, safety precautions that would be applied, and so on.

Relative to the ocean events, its tough to articulate because you don't have roadways or barriers to distinguish whats the race course and whats open to other ocean users. In our case it would probably be buoys that canoes would have to race in. Imagine having a large number of buoys outlining the course of a long distance race. It would be a nightmare for organizers to place and pick-up the buoys, very costly, and restricts creative course management to outsmart your competition.

I would assume either OHCRA or the hosting club would have to come to an agreement on who would advertise the event and contact commercial businesses that utilize high traffic racing areas that a race is going to happen and the possible dangers. An extra thing to add to the "to do list" but shows professionalism and due diligence to other ocean users.

But all in all, OHCRA and the hosting club could do all that and if a vessel or canoe was caught up in the competition, they could still disregard certain obstacles in the water and possibly endanger other ocean users, seal life, and/or themselves.

Hopefully that helps,


#2 Wed, 08/18/2010 - 11:16am

there was way too many escort boats coming close to divers and dive boats both at portlock and in waikiki near the finish. several dlnr boats were out there blocking the way of escorts and yet some went by them anyway. this makes it look like race organizers are not capable of controling the race, giving dlnr justifacation to withold permits in the future. escort boat drivers and crew coaches must keep their eyes open and avoid divers and dive boats in a safe manner if we want to continue racing in the way we do. jimmy, permits are not payed for, they are issued when an organization meets dlnr requirements to hold the event. i have been on the receiving end of denied permits and dlnr has no problem doing so.

#3 Wed, 08/18/2010 - 12:45pm

@bamskii. ...and in the name of safety to recreational divers, the buoy-placing costs and the racing restrictions might be worth exploration. Probably, there is precedent for an accident of this kind, not wanting to get into that...but concurrent with the ongoing expansion of the sport (open class, younger-faster paddlers, more paddlers, more canoe types...), maybe a fresh look at how we mitigate risk during coastal races would be smart. As a group of people who share the same passion for paddling, probably wise to take a step back and think about how to protect paddling, and at least decide that we want to continue like we are or decide to make some changes. I think we would all take an extra two minutes out of our race time if it meant we avoided a close-call with a recreational diver, in this example. Sure, we might lose the thrill of running the wall. And, we can try to impose some temporary (1-2 hour) prohibition on other recreational activity in certain areas at certain times. You can't eliminate all the risk, but maybe a measure or initiative or two could significantly increase our margin to safety.

#4 Wed, 08/18/2010 - 2:42pm

aukina, the permit is for for the start and finish of the race, basically for the right to stage and finish the race at certain points. for example; kailua beach to kaimana beach. as a competitive paddler who also dives, i think the divers would have the right of way, esp, since their heads woulds mostly be submerged. paddlers and escort boats on the other hand have the oppurtunity see and avoid divers or swimmers. one thing is for sure, if a diver or swimmer is hurt or killed by an escort boat or canoe, it will be VERY difficult to obtain permits. the current DLNR administration headed by Thielen has shown that it is not sympathetic to the needs of paddlers. several oc-1 races were cancelled last year because they refused to issue permits. marathon organizers can get streets and race routes closed because the race brings in significant amount of money to the state. the same cannot be said for canoe races, it's sad but true. paddlers and boat captains, let's all be aware of whats going on during the race and to keep an eye on whats going on in front of us. aloha!

#5 Wed, 08/18/2010 - 3:28pm

please remind everyone the rule as far as distances around the flags go. it might be a good idea to add comments such as these to the escort boat waivers.

#6 Wed, 08/18/2010 - 4:44pm

They don't need to outline the course with buoys but placing a few more here and there in visible locations near dive spots would help. So as to inform divers that when they see that buoy they know to stay away or at the very least make them aware that a race is taking place. The buoys would still be few enough to not interfere with the strategies of steersman. Regardless it would take effort on all sides to improve things.

#7 Wed, 08/18/2010 - 5:00pm

Marine Ocean Water Events which have been permitted by the DLNR-Boating & Ocean Recreation may be viewed at its website or the USCG Local Notice to Mariners. There is no fee for the permit. Notification to the public and harbor tennants is primarily the event sponsors responsibility. The permit grants preferential use of harbor facilities/ocean waters, not exclusive.

#8 Fri, 08/20/2010 - 1:46am

You can see divers with a buoy and flag pretty far off. Use common sense and go around them. A canoe does not have to divert significantly to give a diver a safe berth.

#9 Fri, 08/20/2010 - 8:13am

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