Ultra-marathon swimmer Jono Ridler delivered on his promise to swim from Great Barrier Island to Auckland last week. His aim was to highlight the dire state of the Hauraki Gulf. He says in the  99.1km swim which took him 33 hours he did not see any marine life. Now he and Live Ocean, the organisation Blair Tuke and Peter Burling set up to champion for healthier oceans, are asking government to prioritise protection and restoration of the Gulf. 

Jono’s swim plan required a weather window starting on Tuesday 25 April – but the wind didn’t play ball. He says he checked the weather “umpteen times a day”, looking for the best opportunity and going half mad in the process. After several days it seemed the best opportunity for the attempt would finally come on Tuesday 2 May.

Forty-eight hours before the swim, a meeting between the two skippers of the main support boat was called on whether to activate the entire 16-person crew. It was dicey, the weather window was tight, with wind only forecast as favourable until Wednesday morning. It would then reach 20 knots as day two progressed. Jono says he backed his ability and passion for his cause and decided to go ahead.

They set off from Auckland in a stiff 20-knot headwind and three-metre swell, heading for Great Barrier Island. Jono says the more experienced sailors hardly batted an eyelid but his fellow swimmers, who’d offered to come as support, fared much worse on the trip. “It was a relief to enter the calm waters of Karaka Bay five hours later to an incredible welcome by the local community, a fantastic dinner and a very solid pre-swim briefing.” • Sarah Gloyer

Full story in this week’s Gulf News… Out Now!!!

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