He launched the inaugural Hawke's Bay Ocean Swim Series in Napier but Dale Long isn't done with skirting the boundaries of what the province can offer to those who seek more aquatic flutter.

You can say Long is now dipping his toe into a bigger fish pond, as it were, to gauge his worth and safety of what it'll be like to swim Bare Island on Saturday, March 23, weather permitting.

However, the 52-year-old from Tasmania, who moved to a 7ha property in Tukituki Valley two years ago with wife Maria Gigney, an architect, is happy to become a guinea pig to go around the island, from south to north, situated 2km off the coast of Waimarama and 25km south of Cape Kidnappers.

"When I first arrived here and saw it I thought what a beautiful place and how nice it would be to swim around it," says Long who will use the penultimate round four of the Bay series at Perfume Point this Saturday to warm up for the 6km to 9km island challenge.


He is simply exploring the 1.5 to 3-hour challenge as a potential swim for the Bay series.

"Because of the length of the swim and the possible danger, I just want to restrict it this year to just a test event," he explains.

Long emphasises it isn't an event for everyone, especially those who enjoy the water but are nervous about covering long distances.

No doubt there are several safety issues to consider off the beach as well.

"It's not for the faint-hearted and I'm just doing it this year to assess the viability of the event to let people know we're looking at these things in the future."

However, Long has invited a couple of other swimmers to join him in the expedition although safety is paramount because they'll have to be responsible for their own welfare in the water because it's not an official event.

Gigney and Pete Maclennan are among those who will be pivotal as his safety crew in a boat and a kayak. Those who join him will need a similar support crew.

"Because people swim at different speeds it's really difficult to stay with the group, particularly in open water because swimmers start spreading out."


Consequently Long wants boats to patrol individuals around Bare Island to maximise the safety aspect of the exercise.

"It's just an event I wanted to do and I think it's quite a challenge so I'll just assess the viability of doing it for the future years."

He intends to turn the island swim into a charity fundraiser, such as Clean Oceans, on their website: www.hboceanswim.co.nz

"It won't actually be a title event but just a test event for a few years."

Reliable diving sources in the region have informed Long that there are seals around Bare Island, which goes by the Māori name of Te Motu-o-Kura following the passage of the Heretaunga Tamatea Claims Settlement Act 2018.

On the south-west side of the 15ha island, there is, reportedly, an aquifer exuding fresh water called Nga Puhake-o-te-ora or "the burp of life".

From the shore Motu-o-Kura is bare, but from the seaward side, there is enough cover to provide resting sites for blue penguins and sooty shearwaters.

When Jules Dumont d'Urville sailed past in 1827 he noted houses and boats on the seaward side.

"It's quite a magnetic island off the coast and it's very beautiful and I just thought it'll be quite interesting."

According to Māori legend, the island is named after a woman named Kura.

Kura, during times of siege, would dive down to obtain fresh water from the aquifer on the island.

"I think it's the leopard seals that can be a little dangerous but they'll be fine."

How about the sharks?

"You just keep a lookout and being from Australia we swim with sharks quite a bit," he says with a laugh.

"And they're not that hungry this time of the year but, if worst comes to worst, they'll be one fewer Australian you'll need to worry about so that'll be a good thing."

Having organised sport events in Australia, Long has observed the 19km Perth to Rottnest Island swim several times.

He recalls one year they had to fetch 100 people from the water, after someone spotted a Great White, at the event that lures up to 4000 swimmers.

Hawke's Bay swimmers Dale Long (left) with Sara Kate Birkett, Kate Allen and Darcy Brown after the Lake Taupo challenge a fortnight ago. Photo/supplied
Hawke's Bay swimmers Dale Long (left) with Sara Kate Birkett, Kate Allen and Darcy Brown after the Lake Taupo challenge a fortnight ago. Photo/supplied

He hopes corporate sponsors will come to the table for the Bay ocean series next season from November.

Late last month Long finished third in the Across the Lake swim at Taupo where Sarah Kate Birkett won the women's event, knocking off world leading Ironwoman Meredith Kessler. Darcy Brown won the junior male title while Kate Allen was third in the junior women's division.