93 days, 4,050 nautical miles, and almost 2 million strokes. That's what it took Chris Bertish to paddle across the Atlantic Ocean on a stand-up paddle (SUP) board. Starting off the coast of Morocco, he travelled for more than three months to reach English Harbour, Antigua, where he arrived haggard and grateful to still be standing.
Weather and exhaustion worked against him. He had been surviving on freeze-dried meals for his entire journey. Waves threatened to swamp him, and he had several run-ins with sharks who tested the material of his board to see if it was edible.
Bertish recounted the challenging conditions he had to face. Relentless trade winds slowed his progress, though he kept to his grueling pace as he paddled 12-15 hours every day. “It’s more than the endurance side that was difficult to keep going. I had to manage the elements and manage myself mentally. I had massive system malfunctions that I was trying to troubleshoot myself.”
His board–and with it, his feet and ankles–were also underwater most of the trip. His storage compartments would take on water, too, forcing him to open them even if it meant risking losing his food. "I pretty much constantly felt like I was sinking,” he said. “Every two weeks I had to open up the hatches and pump out the water, but that’s where my food was. It was a double-edged sword.”
Bertish made the journey as a way to raise money for charity and test the limits of possibility. The Lunchbox Fund, Operation Smile, and Signature of Hope were the three main beneficiaries of the reported $380,000 raised by the epic journey.
Chris Bertish emphasised that this journey was worth all of the hardship he faced, as the money would be donated to charities that help children in South Africa. “Knowing the impact this will have,” he says, “made every day out on the open ocean worthwhile.”