noun - The Red Triangle is the colloquial name of a roughly triangular-shaped region off the coast in northern California, extending from Bodega Bay, north of San Francisco, out slightly beyond the Farallon Islands, and down to the Big Sur region, south of Monterey, California.
The area has a very large population of marine mammals, such as elephant seals, harbor seals, sea otters, and sea lions, which are favored meals of Great White Sharks. Around 38% of recorded Great White Shark attacks on humans in the United States have occurred within the Red Triangle — and 11% of the worldwide total.
The area encompasses the beaches of the heavily-populated San Francisco Bay Area, and many people enjoy open water swimming, surfing, windsurfing and diving in these waters. However, even with an ever-increasing numbers of people entering the water, sightings and encounters with the elusive sharks are still extremely rare.
The term "Red" in the name refers to color of the blood in the water, after a shark has made its attack.
Marathon Swims in the Red Triangle
A standardized 30-mile course is governed by the Farallon Islands Swimming Federation and is renowned to be one of the two most difficult, coldest, most perilous marathon swims in the world. Water temperatures can range from 50°F (10°C) to 55.4°F (13°C), but temperatures have been recorded lower on several occasions. The water conditions are usually extremely rough with cresting ocean swells up to 20 feet. Currents and tides often exceed the speed of the fastest swimmers. It is a swim not lightly attempted.
History of Swims in the Red Triangle
There have been multiple attempts to swim from the Farallon Islands, but to date only three solo swimmers and two relays have accomplished this incredible feat.
1. Lt Colonel Stuart Evans The first successful swim was by Lt Colonel Stuart Evans in August of 1967. He landed by Bolinas after swimming 13 hours 44 minutes and 52 seconds, covering 18 nautical miles. He wore a neoprene cap from looking at his picture and greased himself up fairly well. He also landed on shore and walked on the beach under his own power in accordance with English Channel rules. Stuart is now deceased and no communication available.
2. Ted Erikson The second attempt completed was by Ted Erikson. On his first attempt in 1966 he went completely hypothermic and was reported "dead". He was revived, started life anew and failed again on his second attempt. He said he waited a year this time, brought the man upstairs along, and success. Erikson completed his swim on 17 September 1967 in 14 hours 38 minutes by swimming under the Golden Gate Bridge, covering 26.4 nautical miles. This is now the official start and finish line according to the Farallon Islands Swimming Federation.
Erikson lives in Chicago and his website is here. He is a little hard of hearing so emails are much preferred and he is most open and cordial in sharing so much wonderful information. His latest interview is here.
3. Dolphin Club The members of the Dolphin Club and the South End Rowing Club challenged each other to a race from the Farallones to the Clubhouse each living side by side at Aquatic Park. They did the race in September or October of 1969. The records are being pieced together and may be updated from time to time. The Dolphin Club relay swam to the shores of Aquatic Park in 14 hours and defeated the South End Rowing Club which got swept south then made it under the Golden Gate Bridge in 16 hours, but was forced to quit after encountering the beginning of the ebb.
The names of all the teams are being verified but one person was Bob Roper who swam for the South End Rowing Club - still swimming daily at age 70.
Also a 50m sprinter, triathlete, motorcycle racer and now world famous winery owner Bill Harlan, who swam for the Dolphin Club. Bill is 70 and has built one of the most famous wineries in the world Harlan Estates, scoring routine 100 ratings from Robert Parker.
All the people I spoke with confirmed proper relay rules, no sharks, but everyone was scared - they were all honest. Water temperature ranged from 55 to 62 degrees F depending on who you talk to and they started the race at 11pm.
4. Night Train Swimmers Completed swim from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallon Islands. 20 May 2011, covering 26.4 nautical miles. Time finished: 14 hours 45 minutes and 8 seconds. The team members were Phil Cutti, Darin Connolly, Dave Holscher, Vito Bialla, John Mathews and Kim Chambers.
5. Night Train Swimmers Completed swim from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallon Islands. 4 June 2011, covering 26.4 nautical miles. Time finished: 16 hours 29 minutes and 8 seconds. The team members were Kim Chambers, Laura Vartain Horn, Cathy Delneo, Melissa King, Patti Bauernfeind and Lynn Kubasek.
6. Kim Chambers Farallon Islands to Golden Gate Bridge in August 2015 in 17 hours 12 minutes [first woman]
Sharks in the Red Triangle
Around 38% of recorded Great White Shark attacks on humans in the United States have occurred within the Red Triangle — 11% of the worldwide total.
- Cathy Delneo Talks Sharks And Wildlife Protection Policy On WOWSA Live
- International Shark Attack File
- Monterey Bay Aquarium White Shark Research Project
- PBS White Shark/Red Triangle
- www.pbs.org Great White Sharks
- Gotta Good Feeling About The Farallons
- Big Day Out On The Ocean (Atlantic Division)
- Big Day Out On The Ocean (Pacific Division)
- 4.4 nm To Go For Craig Lenning
- So Far, So Good For Craig Lenning
- Craig Lenning's 15 Hours 46 Minutes Ends 47-Year Hiatus
- Farallon Islands Swimming Federation
- Interview with Ted Erikson and Vito Bialla
- www.flmnh.ufl.edu Great White Shark Attacks
- Farallones Marine Sanctuary
- Tagging of Pacific Predators
- Shark Research Committee
- Stanford University
- Calm, Cool And Collected In The Gorgeous Galápagos
- What Is On The Menu In The Open Water?
- How Do You Prepare For Sharks?
- How Can You Not Panic?
- World Open Water Swimming Association