On December 22, 2016, Chris Bertish broke the world record for the longest stand-up paddle (SUP) journey in open ocean waters. But he wants more.
The 42-year-old waterman from South Africa is halfway through the first ever solo, transatlantic SUP crossing. Bertish kicked off his 4,500-mile (7,500 kilometers) adventure in Agadir, Morocco, on December 6, 2016.
He expects to arrive at Antigua, in the Caribbean Sea, around April 2017. However, if possible, Chris Bertish wants to reach the sands of Florida for a complete, coast-to-coast, Atlantic crossing.
The dangers and hazards are well-known. The first surfer to ever paddle for waves at Jaws will challenge strong currents, relentless winds, sharks, heavy rain, and huge swells.
"I have a special hand grenade-type shark shield device which hopefully will get rid of a very pesty shark. But generally, my craft is not very tasty, so I hope it will take one bite, get some damaged teeth and carry on its journey," jokes Bertish.
But Bertish has its weapons. Phil Morrison, an experience naval architect, designed and developed a 20-foot, $100,000 SUP craft equipped with satellite communication, weather forecasting systems, VHF radio, a laptop, GPS and radar, solar power panels, and an auto-pilot system.
The half-boat, half-SUP board has enough space for 50 liters of emergency water and freeze-dried food. The high-tech surf craft also features a water desalinator, repair tools, and several emergency gadgets.
"There is no support vessel. I have a support team on land, and I can phone by sat comms when the weather is good. I can communicate with them and get updates on a daily basis. I am the support vessel, and no support vessel can support me at the speed I am traveling, which is not that fast," adds the waterman.
Chris Bertish has an incredible track record. In 2000, he won the award for the biggest wave ever paddled, and nine years later he became the first surfer to SUP the Nelscott Reef In 2010, he did the same at Dungeons and won the Mavericks Big Wave Invitational.
More recently, the South African competed in the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau, competed in the SUP World Championships, and broke new SUP records in England, and in his home country.
The transatlantic SUP crossing is also raising funds for three organizations: Signature of Hope Trust, Lunchbox Fund, and Operation Smile. All donations are welcome.
Chris Bertish's attempt to become the first ever person to cross the Atlantic Ocean on stand-up paddle craft continues. You can follow his adventure live at www.thesupcrossing.com.