The Hauraki Gulf urgently needs protection and restoration and 33-year-old Aucklander Jono Ridler will attempt a New Zealand record non-stop ultra-distance open water swim on or soon after 25 April to inspire action from government and from kiwis.

A weather window towards the end of this month will see Jono and a support crew of about 16 people, a 55-foot launch and a tender depart Karaka Bay, north of Port Fitzroy on Aotea/Great Barrier Island. They will head down and around Hauturu/Little Barrier Island, and then head to Narrow Neck Beach in Auckland’s North Shore. “It was important to me to get to 100km, so it is not the most direct route,” says Jono.

The attempt will test human endurance but he is driven by an intense personal desire to push the government to move right now on its 2021 announcement of a plan to turn the health of the Gulf around. Not much has happened over the last two years according to conservation groups. Jono has called his swim Swim4theGulf.

Live Ocean founders and sailors Blair Tuke and Peter Burling use their voices as well-known ocean athletes to drive action for a healthier ocean. They welcome Jono to their organisation and Burling says he has massive admiration for his attempt. 

“He’ll be pushing himself to the edge of what’s humanly possible to raise attention about the state of the Gulf. We’re asking the public to really get behind him and show him massive support. We have to draw a line in the sand. We need the central government to prioritise this.”

Waiheke’s Serena Woodhall is on Live Ocean’s racing team, currently on a European tour of ETF26 Grand Prix regattas. In the beginning of March she met Jono on a unique outing in the shadow of Little Barrier. The Live Ocean athletes, including sailors and now swimmer Jono, spent an afternoon with marine biologist Lydia Green observing and swimming with a 5metre manta ray under the supervision and guidelines of Manta Watch New Zealand. 

• Sarah Gloyer

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