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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Thu, 9 March 2017

Chris Bertish became the first person to Standup Paddle across the Atlantic Ocean. Chris has paddled into English Harbour after the most memorable downwinder of his life, writes Spike.


LAST GASP: 4,500 miles down, 8 to go. His position as of 12.45pm today. ETA around 4pm SA time. 

Driven along by a pumping ENE wind and 3 metre windswell, it was a tricky but fitting way to become the first person to Standup Paddle across the frikken Atlantic Ocean. A live feed of the end of his momentous trip showed him hooting and lighting a flare and generally going mal as his brothers Conn, Greg and big wave legend Jeff Clark pulled up alongside him in a speed boat to talk him through the last half a mile.

Once in the harbour he was presented with a hamburger and chips. 

Chris has gone not from A to B, but from A to A - Agadir to Antigua. After 91 days at sea, his extraordinary feat culminated in a raucous reception of friends and family at Nelson's Dockyard in the small town of English Harbour. There was champagne and hugs and screams of laughter.


BROS IN ARMS: Big wave legend Jeff Clark and brothers Conn and Greg are there to meet him.

nelson1His arrival has been imminent for the last few hours, and his eventual arrival comes at 2.45pm or so SA time. There is a live feed on Facebook you can watch to share the moment.

Nelson's Dockyard is named after Admiral Horatio Nelson, who lived here from 1784 through 1787. Nelson's Dockyard is a fitting place for the reception party. As Wikipedia says, Admiral Nelson was a heroic figure "noted for his inspirational leadership, superb grasp of strategy, and unconventional tactics".

Sound familiar? Well, there's more. "He was wounded several times in combat, losing most of one arm in the unsuccessful attempt to conquer Santa Cruz de Tenerife and the sight in one eye in Corsica."


OCEAN LOOKOUT: Brothers Greg and Conn (taking photo) waiting for their boet.

The admiral was a tenacious fighter, a do or die kind of character. After all the doing, however, the choice was wrested away from him by fate. Nelson was shot dead in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Otherwise they may have had to move the reception party to an island further south.

For Chris Bertish, it's very much about the doing. His downwinder into Antigua with a howling wind behind demands peak 'doing', but luckily he tracked far enough north when he realised this wind would blow so it becomes essentially a downwinder. Otherwise they may have had to move the reception party to an island further south.

Paddling into Nelson's Dockyard, Chris brings a serious ailment that need urgent medical attention. His rotator cuff sounds like it's in tatters. He has battled all sorts of demons - some imaginary but many very very real like when the white shark buzzed him and the squall monsters came to smash him and play with his head and when he tore a piece out of his finger and stuff kept breaking and food supplies got soaked.

Welcome to terra firma, and the history books, Chris Bertish.



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