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Capetonian Chris Bertish has just become the first human ever to cross the Atlantic ocean on a stand up paddleboard.
He arrived in English Harbour on the Caribbean island of Antigua today, after a gruelling 3 month journey alone at sea.
Chris set off from Morocco on 6 December 2016. He had to paddle the equivalent of a marathon every single day, for 7500 kilometres. Read all about his journey here.
On his way, he smashed the world record for distance covered in 24 hours of stand up paddling on his way.
— Chris Bertish (@chris_bertish) February 17, 2017
But Chris didn’t just take on this epic journey for the kicks and world records. Every stroke of the way, he has been raising funds for some incredible charities through the donations of his supporters. The money will go towards building schools, feeding hungry children and performing surgeries on kids born with cleft palates. If you want to donate R30 to the cause, SMS the words StandUp to 42146 or visit the donation page for more options.
The ocean pioneer, big wave champion, SUP record holder, professional speaker, waterman and extreme adventurer knows all about facing fear and overcoming doubt. This is his advice to readers wanting to chase giant dreams:
1. Trust your instincts
In early 2010, completely broke and in huge debt, I was faced with the most important decision of my life: to buy another ticket – with money I had to borrow – and get on the plane and fly halfway round the world, before anyone knew they were going to run the event or not. The only flight that would get me there in time was due to leave an hour before the the Mavericks Big Wave Invitational organisers could even make a final call to run the event. I had to trust my gut then and there, and believe with every fibre in my being that it was the right call, the right decision, without hesitation or doubt. It ended up being the right call. The event was called on while I was halfway across the Atlantic; I surfed in the event and won it, and it changed my life forever. Never doubt yourself. Ever.
2. Nothing comes easy
I’d given everything to get to Mavericks. It meant there was no turning back – no matter what, I was going to give it my all. And after travelling for 42 hours, a few hours after almost drowning, with no sleep and on borrowed equipment, I managed to come out on top against the world’s best. Heart, resilience, determination, sacrifice and commitment are the key ingredients to succeeding in life. Whatever you set out to achieve, it’s about having fire, passion and self-belief.
— Chris Bertish (@chris_bertish) February 12, 2017
3. Never give up
At one stage on a solo 350-km unsupported paddle up the west coast of Africa I nearly got blown out to sea when the wind picked up. I had to make it to this island at all costs, or I was dead. You can never quit, even when your back’s up against the wall and you’re fighting for your life. In your darkest times, when you think you have nothing left, that’s when you find your greatest potential.
4. Do what you love. Love what you do
Find your passion and have the courage to follow it. Once you know what you enjoy and what drives you, chase it. Once I realised that I wanted to pursue big wave surfing and endurance adventures – and realised that these created amazing stories, which I now use as a speaker, author and film director to inspire others – everything became clear. If you find your passion and follow it, your purpose will find you.
— Chris Bertish (@chris_bertish) February 25, 2017
5. Face your fears to live your dreams
We all have fears. It’s how we deal with them and how we face them that defines us and separates us from others. Our attitude (how we see and deal with these fears) also mirrors how we deal with life’s opportunities and obstacles. I got caught inside a rogue 20-metre wave at Mavericks in 2010. We all get hit by those curve balls in life, those rogue sets, but it’s how we deal with them – how we face them or run from our fears – that dictates the outcome. We have to face down our fears; we have to stand our ground in order to conquer them. It helps to slow things down, take a deep breath, calm your mind, reduce the panic and make good decisions – to know and believe that you will get through even the toughest situations.