He Did It! After 93 Days and 6500kms (4050 miles), Chris Bertish Becomes First Person to Paddleboard Across the Atlantic Ocean (UPDATED)
In brief: Early this morning, Chris Bertish made history by becoming the first person to paddleboard across the Atlantic Ocean, hitting land in Antigua after 93 days alone at sea to complete a monumental journey many thought he’d never make and perhaps nobody will ever match.
The South African big wave surfer and ocean adventurer departed from Agadir, Morocco, on Africa’s north-west coast in the early hours of December 6, paddling a custom-built stand up paddle board that would become his home for the next three months.
The extraordinary crossing was solo and unsupported, with Bertish having to battle the elements along with the extreme mental and physical requirements of paddling 12-16 hours per day and sleeping in a confined space, not to mention the weight of having to carry 13 weeks worth of food and supplies along for the ride.
The crossing was done entirely for charity.
Bertish reached English Harbour on the south coast of Antigua shortly after 8am on Thursday March 9th. He covered more than 6500kms (4050 miles) at an average pace of 70km (44 miles) per day. For some context, that’s equivalent to paddling 12 miles further than the infamous Molokai Channel every single day for three months straight.
Much of the paddling was done at night to avoid the draining effects of the sun, and estimates suggest Bertish took approximately 2,000,000 paddle strokes to complete the epic journey. Yes, two million strokes.
The paddleboarding explorer faced every element you could imagine, from wild seas to shark encounters to the simple but daunting fact of being alone in the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.
Bertish spent Christmas paddling all day, celebrated New Year’s with a small bottle of scotch, and had a travel guitar tucked away in his equipment to help pass the the few moments when he wasn’t paddling, sleeping or maintaining his board and the vast array of safety and communications equipment attached to it.
Fully loaded with food, water and gear, Chris’ board weighed approximately 600kg or roughly 1,300 pounds, which is about 50 times heavier than the average stand up paddleboard. The custom-built paddleboard, which Chris named the IMPfish, was designed by renowned naval architect Phil Morrison and took six months to construct.
The craziest part? Now that he’s reached the Caribbean and already completed his mission of paddling across the Atlantic, Bertish hopes to continue north to Florida if the weather permits, which would add another 1,000 miles of open ocean paddling to his route (this was the original plan anyway, we’ll await updates–nobody could blame the guy for taking a break in the Caribbean).
Messages of congratulations, respect and astonishment immediately began flooding in through Instagram and Facebook after the news became official. Even the king himself, Kelly Slater, was thoroughly impressed:
But while Bertish is the first person (and last?) to ever cross the Atlantic on a paddleboard, he wasn’t the first to attempt it. That honour goes to Frenchman Nicolas Jarossay, who set off on a similar route 12 months ago before heartbreakingly having to abandon his transatlantic SUP crossing in the first 24 hours due to a broken rudder.
Bertish’s historic achievement went well beyond the world of surfing and paddling, with the story already being picked up by some of the world’s largest media outlets including the New York Times, The Guardian and CNN. Thanks to Chris Bertish, our sport is literally front page news today.
Congratulations Chris. That was crazy, it was brave, and it was downright inspiring.
More to come…
Follow Chris Bertish on Facebook and Instagram for more updates over the coming hours and days, and check the complete course Chris traveled on his GPS live tracking map.
Here’s a quick look at the final moments of the journey:
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And here are some of Chris’ first words back on land:
SUP the Mag (and pretty much every other media outlet in the world of paddling and surfing) has more coverage, including some great photos of Chris landing in Antigua.
The magazine also livestreamed the historic moment as Bertish reached the end of his mammoth adventure:
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And finally, @sup.kids produced one of their signature cartoons to commemorate Chris’ achievement