When it comes to pushing oneself towards greatness, some of us vow to read more books or sign up for a 5K run. Others try to learn a new skill, like woodworking. Chris Bertish, however, decided to become the first person to cross the Atlantic Ocean on a paddleboard because he is a crazy man.
This was no ordinary paddleboard. Bertish, a big-wave surfer and sailing enthusiast, worked with naval architect Phil Morrison to create a custom-built 20-foot vessel with a tiny cabin and an even tinier sleeping berth. That’s where he stashed GPS equipment, a satellite weather system, radios, a satellite phone, and an autopilot system. On top of the craft they installed solar panels to keep all those gadgets charged, and Bertish also kept an emergency kit—complete with a life raft and flares—nearby just in case. He also had shark repellant handy, because, well, sharks are scary. The whole getup cost over $120,000 to build.
Miraculously, the 42-year-old South African paddled his way from Morocco to Antigua, alone, in just 94 days. That’s 4,500 nautical miles of unassisted and unsupported ocean-faring, although Bertish did encounter some yachts and cargo ships along the way. He also weathered some storms by strapping himself into a harness that connected to the paddleboard, which looks utterly terrifying.
Again, this is not the same kind of raft you might try to ride on your beach vacation. The dashboard alone shows that it’s a highly sophisticated vessel. It’s even capable of righting itself if it flips over.
Bertish didn’t just pull off this world record for fun. He’s also raised nearly half a million dollars for kids in South Africa, while keeping his fans updated through a “captain’s log” posted to Facebook from his satellite phone. So at least the trip wasn’t totally lonely. It was definitely crazy, though.