We Say WhatSUP to Man on a Mission Chris Bertish
“Nothing is impossible unless you believe it to be.”
These are words that Chris Bertish lives by. Sure, scaling Mount Everest might seem impossible to me, but to a seasoned mountain climber, it’s do-able. Breaking the 10-second barrier for a 100m sprint might seem wild for most, but for Usain Bolt, it’s a done deal. Completing a trans-Atlantic crossing on a SUP (stand up paddleboard) unaided? Well, that’s a different story. That seems, well, pretty crazy for almost anyone. And it is, for most. But Chris Bertish is not most.
Chris’ list of achievements and accolades is long and varied, with many of them being death-defying feats that would make most of us quiver in our flip flops. Winning the Mavericks Big Wave Invitational in Half Moon Bay, California during some of the most difficult conditions ever recorded is one of them, being the first person to paddle in at Jaws, Peahi, Hawaii is another, as is setting a new Open Ocean Guinness World Record for SUP. This is not run of the mill stuff here, this is pushing your body to the absolute limits, testing Mother Nature and separating terrifying fear from logical thought. I feel short of breath just thinking about it.
When reading through Chris’ list of achievements, it’s clear that he is a waterman through and through, and it got me wondering whether this is something innate in certain people. It prompted me to find out what his star sign was, and I discovered, that as a Cancer (born 11 July) his element is water – makes total sense.
In fact, I’m sure he’s got the blood of Neptune, Poseidon and Oceanus running through his veins – some kind of mythical intervention would make how he made this staggering crossing seem more possible.
But, you have to have more than just an affinity for water to decide to undertake a trans-Atlantic SUP crossing. Besides needing to have steely determination and an immense amount of tenacity and grit, you have to be ok with your own company, like, really ok with it. Out on the Atlantic, Chris was effectively alone, paddling the equivalent of a marathon distance on a daily basis, covering 7500 km of open water. Not a dam or a lake, no, the open ocean, with no land in sight and lots of tremendously large and toothy sea creatures below.
Amazingly, though, Chris made this seemingly impossible journey his own. He not only completed it, he did it in style, making incredible memories along the way. In one of his Captain’s logs, he detailed having dolphins swimming alongside him for seven days. Realising that his stress and nerves could be felt by these incredible creatures, he understood that they were there to tell him that he was not alone and, that while the ocean can be an unpredictable and scary space, that they had his back. That kind of connection with nature is not something we’ll all get to experience. It’s pretty incredible, to say the least.
His journey was not only a personal victory but more importantly raised significant awareness and millions of Rands for several charities including Operation Smile, The Lunchbox Fund and The Signature of Hope Trust, benefiting children in need.
There are a million questions that we would have loved to have asked Chris about his journey – silly, everyday things like, “did he ever brush his hair?” or “did he ever talk or sing to himself out loud?” Instead, we narrowed it down to these ten in the hopes of getting a little insight into this utterly awe-inspiring feat…
Click the play button below to listen to the audio Q&A session with Chris…
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