Mon, 6 March 2017
The champagne is on ice for Wednesday as Chris Bertish draws near to English Harbour in Antigua after turning the improbable into the definite, writes Spike with confidence.
Last week, when it started to become apparent that Chris Bertish is actually going to make it across the Atlantic Ocean, unsupported, solo and all that, some pretty important people started to sit up and take notice. Entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson and adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes were among the big names pitching in to urge the bedraggled big wave surfer toward his goal.
More than two million people have followed his journey, partly because his regular posts describing the rigours he endures have made for deliciously voyeuristic reading.
In recent days, he has been battered by squalls after 87 days at sea. As he approaches Antigua, with about 120 nautical miles remaining and the welcoming party organised for Wednesday at English Harbour, conditions have been quite severe.
If you've been through a tropical squall, you'll know they can be scary. A grey wall bears down on you, gobbling up the surface of the sea. You see the white caps coming, like a mob of misshapen creatures in full charge. Then suddenly, boom, they’re on you. The wind is howling, the raindrops are like missiles and the sea has turned into a heaving mess.
Bertish has fallen off his SUP ImpiFish numerous times. One photo from a GoPro mounted behind him shows a dramatic still of him lurching off the boat with his paddle in his right hand.
The closer he gets, and the more scary the moment and the more on tenterhooks we become, the more people are starting to sit up and say. "Oh my gosh. Maybe he's going to do it."
The naysayers and pessimists are starting to come full circle, coming out in droves to support him. In the orange haze of uncertainty in the world, we need an inspiring David vs Goliath myth to take root in our consciousness and flourish. Thankyou Donald.
He has broken a few world records. Perhaps the most remarkable on his relatively heavy craft is clocking over 62nm in 24hrs. But the whole thing is impressive enough, let alone the milestones. Strong trade winds at his back helped him to clock 210 nautical miles in four days at an average speed of 52nm/day.
In his Facebook posts, the language he uses is an outpouring of motivation for himself, with phrases like 'catalyst for change', 'new solutions', ‘changing paradigms’ and ‘my greatest asset’. They are what he calls his 'power words'.
Then it struck me. These words, engorged with the sublime and the exalted, are a form of fuel. In these final days, which in reality seem quite grim when you read beneath the understated narrative, he is using his own thoughts and words as a nutritional supplement.
These Internet ramblings are like Mark Cavendish popping a Gnu energy boost 20kms from the end of the race.
This must be one of the most digitally described adventure expeditions in history. You can track his progress on his website www.thesupcrossing.com and then suddenly see him pop up on your Facebook wall, or even Whatsapp, chatting and commenting like he was on the couch at home watching the Stormers beat the Jaguares on the weekend.
Recently I got a satellite phone call from him - as have many friends and family - but I missed it. Just wanted to chat and say howzit, he texted.
He likes to sign off his messages, Chris Bertish, Atlantic Ocean.
In a couple of days, he's going to have to revert to something a little more boring.