March 9 (UPI) — A South African man on Thursday became the first person in history to stand up paddleboard across the Atlantic Ocean — a monumental 4,000-mile journey that took more than three months and years of planning to pull off.
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 mostly standing up on his board 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!” he said in a previous “captain’s log” entry last month.
The entire trip spanned 4,050 miles and took 93 days — which can be broken down into 13 weeks, 2,232 hours, nearly 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 when he was at about the midway point.
“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, the 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.
A book, Going the Distance, will be published late next year, Bertish said.
“You can do and be anything you want in life, it’s just a choice and then having the courage and self belief in order to follow your heart,” he wrote Thursday. “And never give up till you get there!”
— SUP Magazine (@SUPthemag) March 9, 2017