In His Own Words
"I took on the Director’s position for 2 years, I believe it was [1983 and 84], with encouragement and prodding from Fred Trask. The job was made easier because of the core group of volunteers that supported the effort and took on the many tasks and activities that need to be done to pull the event off. Alan Hong was our go-to person for everything in the water.
Alan Hong & Pre-GPS
These were the pre-GPS years and to find the course turn marker placement sites, Alan used photos of the Honolulu land scape to line up the boat on the right spots to locate the big cement blocks used to anchor the turn buoys. He also organized and directed the water safety crew on surf boards and support vessels.
Audy Kimura & Safety Committee
The Safety Committee lead person was Na Hoku Hanohano award winner Audy Kimura. He organized his support crew and coordinated with Alan.
Bruce Clark Referee & Tough Decision
One of the races under my directorship was a bit controversial. Sydney, Australia, surfing champion and 1980 Olympic bronze medalist, Max Metzker was entered in the adult division. Neither he, nor the race committee was aware that he should be entered in the age group category in order to preserve his Olympics Trials status.
All parties became aware of the situation when the race finished and a decision was made to award him the 1st place finish in the age group division to protect his amateur Olympic competition status. This brought protests from the age group winner, Tore Blickfeldt, who was unfortunately bumped from his 1st place finish.
The Race Committee supported Referee Bruce Clark’s tough decision to make this adjustment in order to ensure that Max’s Olympic status would not be jeopardized. It was not an easy decision to make and it was regretful that Tore suffered from it. As a result of this action, 1976 Olympic gold medalist, Jim Montgomery, moved to 1st overall position in the adult division.
Race Committee in Action
Others on the Committee included but are not limited to Fred Trask, Jim Anderson, Terri Frank, Richard Silva, Harry Huffaker, Steve Bobko, and from here my minds eye becomes blurry. Behind the scenes there are always folks that contribute to the success of the program, among them Shige and Ethel Pabila, Atom Kimm, members of the Waikiki Swim Club, et. al. I apologize for not mentioning everyone who lent a hand in getting the work done. The City and County of Honolulu was a major sponsor. Dick Cowan of time Line Corporation used his computer system to tabulate results. Steve Bobko jumped into the local Waikiki Swim Club family and worked and swam with Mike and Laura Miller as well as other front pack swimmers such as Rick Heltzel & Doug Rice.
Extremely Strong Currents
"The 14th Annual 1983 WRS had extremely strong current conditions moving north to south. From the depths of my memory I think several hundred swimmers were not able to battle the current and eventually DQ’d. I remember someone saying that a couple of swimmers were taken by current near the Diamond Head buoy, though I can’t confirm this.
As a result of this event the Committee made a decision that Race Directors (me at the time) would not be allowed to swim in future races. Another decision made at the time was that Race Directors would be given a lifetime free entry to future WRS events.
Different Starts Tried
"Different race starts were tried as the number of participants grew over the years. During this period of time the WRS starts were everyone starts together or a staggered start with the Masters swimming first followed by the USSI age group youth a half hour later. Over thousand swimmers in the water at one time make for challenging safety conditions. In hind sight, it’s amazing that no one was ever injured or drowned during the hectic initial surge into the water during the start."