South African British makes history with 4,000-mile trans-Atlantic paddleboard trek

A South African man on Thursday became the first person in history to paddleboard across the Atlantic Ocean while standing — a monumental 4,000-mile journey that took more than three months to pull off.

South African surfer Chris Bertish, pictured here at an offshore reef known as Dungeons off Cape Town, South Africa, in 2008, completed the first-ever trans-Atlantic crossing on a stand up paddleboard on Thursday. Bertish, 42, traveled more than 4,000 miles in 93 days since setting off on the journey on December 6 in Morocco. File Photo by Nic Bothma/European Pressphoto Agency
South African surfer Chris Bertish, pictured here at an offshore reef known as Dungeons off Cape Town, South Africa, in 2008, completed the first-ever trans-Atlantic crossing on a stand up paddleboard on Thursday. Bertish, 42, traveled more than 4,000 miles in 93 days since setting off on the journey on December 6 in Morocco. File Photo by Nic Bothma/European Pressphoto Agency

Chris Bertish wrapped the historic journey when he arrived at the Caribbean island of Antigua just after 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

“A day I have been working toward for as long as I can remember,” Bertish wrote to his Facebook page, where he logged several moments of the trip. “I’ve put everything on the line for this project for the last five years … everything!”

Bertish, 42, launched the trans-Atlantic trek when he departed Agadir, Morocco, on Dec. 6. For 93 days he paddled standing up on his paddleboard and faced down a number of perils while navigating the world’s second-largest body of water — like choppy seas, precarious weather, loneliness and even a few sharks.

“The last 72 hours has been the most testing of almost the entire crossing due to weather and the angles for the final approach,” Bertish wrote Thursday. “It’s a day that will redefine what’s Possible!”

“A tale of shifting paradigms, Cabin Fever, the ‘Squall Rider,’ bump and grind, the search for the endangered Gold Monkey and the return of the mighty Stripe!” Bertish said in a “captain’s log” entry last month.

 

The entire trip spanned 4,050 miles and took 93 days — 13 weeks, 2,232 hours, approximately 134,000 minutes or 8.04 million seconds.

“It took everything I had for over 5 years,” Bertish wrote Thursday in his final “captain’s log” entry. “It took every fiber in my being to get through each and every day and every never ending night, day by day, stroke by stroke, over 2 million, as I paddled smiles across the Atlantic and onto the faces of millions of little children in South Africa.”

In addition to his log entries, Bertish also shared motivational quotes on his Facebook page along the way.

More than 2 million people from around the world kept tabs on Bertish during his journey via his Facebook page, and the entire trip was covered by SUP magazine — which even caught up with the Kommetjie, South Africa, native by satellite phone about halfway across the Atlantic.

“Dealing with everything you could possibly imagine and more and still staying positive and proactive to get through it, one challenge at a time,” Bertish told SUP editor Will Taylor on Feb. 14. “You can see how [this trip is] growing and how it is impacting so positively on people around the world, and that drives and inspires me to want to push it and finish it even more.”

In 2014, Bertish, founder of surf industry companies Chris Bertish- I’MPossible and CMB Agencies, set another world record for the longest period of paddling in the open ocean, 12 hours, off the South African coast.

By Doug G. Ware