Record-breaking Chris Bertish spoke at Nanny Cay tonight. The 42-year old South African has just paddled unassisted across the Atlantic on a SUP, landing in Antigua on Thursday 9th March 17, after 93 days at sea alone.
Overcoming shark encounters, equipment failures, unfavorable trade winds, loneliness and huge swells, he became the first man to SUP across the Atlantic albeit 26 pounds lighter!
Beginning on the northwest coast of Africa in Agadir, Morocco, on December 6, 2016, the voyage took Chris past the Canary Islands, crossing the Atlantic Ocean, and finishing in Antigua. He paddled over 4050NM (7500km) in 2,008,800 strokes and setting three new world records in the process. He was paddling a marathon every day for 93 days.
A welcoming crowd welcomed him into English Harbour in Antigua, SUP The Mag covered his arrival live: “Appearance-wise, Chris looked like a chiseled version of Tom Hanks’ character in the film, Castaway. He was skinny, tan, and sporting a huge beard and wild hair. But what else could we expect; the dude did just spend the last three months in the Atlantic Ocean after all.”
The Q&A event at Nanny Cay, with over 400 people attending, raised $1000 for KATS (Kids and the Sea) in drink sales, raffle tickets, signed recycled spinnaker/kit bags and books in just a few short hours
Nautical miles covered: 4,050
Paddle strokes taken: 2,000,080
Calories consumed a day: 8,000-10,000
Calories burned per day: 12,000
Weight lost: 26.5 pounds
Shark encounters: 2
Chris partnered with a number of corporate sponsors that committed a huge amount to this fund raising venture. Over R6,500 000 ($511,000) had been raised for these charities so far, additional gala dinners will raise another R5-6million. Total = R12Million ($945,000). These funds will be used in three areas:
Signature of Hope Trust – Build at least five schools in some of the poorest regions of (South) Africa through Signature of Hope.
The Lunchbox Fund – Establish an annuity that will provide a monthly dividend to feed and educate thousands of children in conjunction with The Lunchbox Fund.
Operation Smile – Establish an annuity that will provide a monthly dividend to pay for life-changing cleft lip and palate surgeries for children born with this facial defect through Operation Smile.
Chris’ craft came from the drawing board of internationally renowned naval architect, Phil Morrison. First and foremost, safety was the utmost priority with speed and comfort, second. The craft itself is just under 20 ft/ 6m in length and when fully loaded with equipment and supplies, the craft weighs approximately 1,350 lbs/600 kilos.
One of the most critical aspects of the design was the placement of the watertight main cabin. A key reason for placing the main cabin forward is the that, with more volume forward, it helps the craft self-right faster, more effectively than any other production boat on the market. The natural shape of the craft on the waterline lends itself to being wider in the forward section of the hull.
Moreover, forward placement protects you from headwinds with a superior aerodynamic profile as well as providing easier control downwind. A centerplate to aid straight line tracking improves capability even further.
While the craft was in production in the UK, Chris and his shore-based team vigorously conducted inversion testing and the self-righting capabilities of the craft. Even though one of the most unpredictable elements of the Sup Crossing was the weather and ocean conditions, inversion testing allowed Chris and the team to understand the capabilities and limitations of the craft. This information was critical to the planning of his route and waypoints along the expedition.
One of the most experienced transatlantic open ocean row experts, Leven Brown, was in charge of the Sup Crossings routing and logistics and was Chris’ main point of contact throughout the journey. Leven was on-site for the testing in the UK and assisted with all the final systems examinations in Morocco prior to launch. Chris and Leven utilized a professional marine weather forecast service, knowledge of the craft and Leven’s expertise of open ocean transatlantic crossings to make sure Chris was safe and on course the entire way.
In order for Leven and Chris to converse throughout the Sup Crossing, and for Christ to send updates, heavy investment was made in satellite communications onboard the craft.
On top of the forward cabin is a bank of solar panels that provides the energy to power and recharge the electronics on board.
Some of the equipment the Sup Craft was outfitted with to achieve this level of communication includes:
• In depth weather forecasting via satellite communication
• VHF DSC Radio
• Handheld VHF RADIO
• Fixed Inmarsat sat phone
• Inmarsat handheld satellite phone
• Back up phones
• Inmarsat BGAN (data satellite communication system)
• Inmarsat BGAN satellite tracker system
• Inreach Iridium explorer PLB(personal locator beacon)
• AIS(Automatic Identification System) System
• GPS/Radar integration
• Handheld GPS
• Manuel compass
• All wind/speed SOG (Speed over Ground) navigation systems
• 2 sets of solar panel units to power all electronics
• 1 back up handheld solo unit and separate battery pack
• Auto Pilot System
The deck of the craft was equipped with four ports that allows Chris to store all of his freeze dried meals and 50 liters of emergency water for the duration of the crossing. The emergency water on board will also act as moveable ballast for the craft as supplies are diminished.
The Sup Craft included a rigging system for the use of a para-anchor, a specially designed parachute used under water, to slow backwards progress when Chris was resting. An anchor rode was attached to the parachute, tied off the bow of the craft and dropped into the water. The parachute opens up from the tug of craft as it’s pushed back by blowing wind or drift. The bow of the craft automatically aligned itself into the wind and sea condition. Deploying the appropriate amount of anchor rode allows Chris, the craft and sea anchor, to ride in unison on opposing waves. In these conditions it was not uncommon to see Chris going backwards or in circles on the live tracker. When the para-anchor was deployed, Chris was locked up in the watertight cabin and waiting for the conditions to change. Sometimes this lasted for days.
The back of the craft had another storage compartment and a bank of additional solar panels. Inside Chris has stored the following:
• Emergency grab bag
• Life raft
• Water desalinator
• Back up Manual water desalinator
• Emergency flares
• Repair tools
• Main Steering devices and two back ups