from The Honolulu Advertiser


Animal Attack

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Recent shark attacks in Hawai‘i

Nov. 23, 1999 — A 51-year-old visitor from Wakefield, R.I., Laurie Boyett, suffered a deep gash to the buttock in an attack off of Kona Village Resort on the Big Island.

Oct. 1, 1999 — A 16-year-old surfer, Jesse Spencer, suffered severe cuts to his right arm in the first recorded shark attack off Kona, off Old Kona Airport Park on the Big Island.

July 21, 1999 — A shark bites Hilo surfer Griffith Yamaguchi on the leg at Honoli‘i, a popular surf spot about two miles north of Hilo, also on the Big Island.

    Shark attacks man off Maui
By Christie Wilson, Neighbor Island Editor

The Associated Press
Wednesday, August 16, 2000

KANAHA, Maui — A visitor from France was critically injured in a shark attack on Maui’s most popular windsurfing beach yesterday.

Jean Alain Goenvec, 53, of Marseilles, was windsurfing at Kanaha Beach around noon in turquoise water a mile off the north shore beach when he was bitten on the leg. He was brought ashore and taken by ambulance to Maui Memorial Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition last night with a severe wound to one of his calves.

Maui County water safety officials immediately closed beaches along the coast from Kanaha to Baldwin Beach Park and posted "shark sighting" warning signs. Kanaha, adjacentto Kahului Airport, remained closed today.

It was the second time in less than a week that a Maui beach has been closed because of concerns about sharks. During the weekend, D.T. Fleming Beach Park in West Maui was closed after a 15-foot tiger shark was observed prowling near shore.

Hawai‘i averages two to three shark attacks each year. Officials with the statewide shark task force last year were concerned about three attacks on the Big Island in less than six months but found nothing to indicate there were more sharks in Hawai‘i waters.

Only Goenvec saw the shark that attacked off Kanaha. One of his companions, Michel Barlaud of Cannes, France, was on the beach when the windsurfer was brought to shore. Barlaud said Goenvec told him the creature was 12 to 15 feet long.

American Airlines pilot John Sincerbeaux, 39, who likes to spend his brief Hawai‘i layovers windsurfing at Kanaha, was enjoying the brisk trade winds on his sailboard when he saw Goenvec in the water waving his arms.

"I saw this guy way out signaling for help," Sincerbeaux said. "He was laying on his board, and I sailed right up to him. I thought the sail came off his board, but he told me he was just attacked by a shark."

The pilot sailed back to shore and notified water safety officer Joe Perez of the situation. Perez launched his rescue ski and sped out to Goenvec. Perez said the windsurfer was fully conscious and had used one of his sail lines as a tourniquet in an attempt to stop the flow of blood from his massive wound. Goenvec was able to cling to the sled attached to the back of Perez’s rescue ski and was towed ashore.

Neither Perez nor Sincerbeaux said they saw sharks swimming in the area. In fact, Perez said that in the seven years he has been posted at Kanaha, he has yet to see a shark.

"Some of the windsurfers have said they’ve seen sharks when they sail far out there, but they never come in," Perez said.

Barlaud described Goenvec as an expert windsurfer. The two men are on Maui for a month’s vacation with their wives and have been windsurfing at Kanaha almost every day since arriving. They were planning to leave Aug. 25.

"When we windsurf, we can fall in the water, even if we are expert," Barlaud said in explaining what happened to his friend. When asked if he would continue to windsurf at Kanaha, he replied: "I don’t know."

Other windsurfers at Kanaha yesterday were more nonchalant about the shark attack. "It’s something a bit unexpected," said Chris Peroutka of Vienna, Austria, as he packed up to head to a windsurfing beach on the leeward side of the island. "It won’t stop me (from windsurfing), but I’ll be more wary."

Robert Stadler of Bavaria, Germany, was at Kanaha with his family and was just getting ready to launch his windsurfing rig when he heard about the shark attack. Stadler, who has been coming to Maui for 10 years, said he wouldn’t hesitate to go out in the ocean once the beach is reopened.

"You always think about it when you’re in the water, but I think that’s like real life — if you get on the road you can also get killed," he said.

Sincerbeaux also said he wouldn’t be deterred from sailing the waters off Kanaha. "It won’t keep me from it, but I’m sure I’ll be thinking about it."

Maui County Chief of Aquatics Marian Feenstra said yesterday’s incident shows the importance of equipping beach lifeguards with rescue skis and sleds so they can respond quickly to emergencies. It would have taken much longer to bring Goenvec to safety if officials had to rely on the Department of Fire Control to launch its rescue boat from Kahului Harbor, she said.

© COPYRIGHT 2000 The Honolulu Advertiser, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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