Chris Bertish – the most inspirational paddler alive?

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Chris Bertish Captain's Log January 12, 2017 The Sup Crossing
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Chris Bertish is a huge source of inspiration.  In the middle of January, he’s out there alone, working his way across the Atlantic on a standup paddleboard to raise money for underprivileged children in Africa.  And, he hopes to inspire US as well. 

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Big Wave champ, Chris Bertish, sports his Maverick’s t-shirt in the middle of the Atlantic ocean to remind us we can manage bigger swells, and, if we can hunker down and wait, it always gets better. Mahalo, Chris!

Heart of a Champion

Chis Bertish is a champion.  Not only did he win the 2010 Maverick’s Big Wave International surfing event in the biggest waves ever recorded in the history of the sport, but beyond that, he’s testing his skills and limits today (right now!) in order to support children’s causes for underprivileged youth in South Africa.  Chris is paddling, by himself and unassisted, across the Atlantic Ocean.

Chris began his journey on Dec. 6, 2016 when he launched his standup paddle craft, the ImpFish, from the coast of Morocco with the Florida coastline in his sights for his finish line.  He’s prepared for years to make this transatlantic crossing, dubbed #thesupcrossing on his website, in order to raise awareness and funds for charities close to his heart.  His voyage thus far has brought him south through the Canary Islands and now he’s headed away from the African coast out into the Atlantic Ocean.

“Leaving Morocco the water was dirty and lots of pollution, plastic and general rubbish were all over the place in the water.  The further I paddled away from mankind and the effects of the modern world, the cleaner and the deeper the blue, the water became less and less polluted.”  – Chris Bertish


Chris Bertish Live Tracker
Jan. 14th, 2017:  screen shot of Chris’ exact location in the Atlantic via his LIVE TRACKER featured on this website.

The “Why” of the Project

No man has succeeded in accomplishing what Chris Bertish has set out to do:  a solo crossing of the Atlantic on a standup paddleboard.  But Chris attributes his positive focus, unbounded energy and victory mindset to the “Why” behind what he is doing.

” I believe with every fiber of my being in this project, ” says Bertish in his recent Captain’s Log dated January 12, 2017, “and how it’s changing and impacting the lives of millions around the world, not just the kids I’m helping.” 

Through donations made to The Sup Crossing, Chris and his team are helping to feed hungry children, paying for life-changing operations for kids born with cleft palates, and raising money to build up to five schools in the poorest regions of South Africa.  Chris hopes these schools “will breed the future heroes, doctors, lawyers and teachers of our country for the next ten generations to follow.  While simultaneously, this project is also hopefully inspiring thousands around the world to believe in their dreams again and in themselves and what is possible.” 


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Chris takes time to swim with the dolphins whenever he can, staying connected with his aquatic traveling companions   Photo by: Chris Bertish

Believing in the Impossible

Chris Bertish believes in going after the Impossible as he says in his video by that title. He is inspired by pushing his own boundaries, overcoming his physical limits and spending time in the ocean.  The ocean, he says, is a place where we need to ALWAYS remember to enter with the greatest amount of respect remembering that it is all powerful and humbling.  He hopes that the achievements and goals he has set for himself helps to inspire other people to go after their dreams and remember what’s possible.

“Take nothing for granted and give a little something back.” – Chris Bertish

Chris is by no standard an optimist.  He knows that planning and physical preparation go a long way to achieving one’s goals. Chris has planned this journey meticulously over the past five years and has been training for the rigors of paddling 10-14 hours a day for months at a time.  He has studied the physics of what he needs to do mechanically with his body to proceed at the marathon pace he has set for himself for the 4,600 miles he needs to cross.  In addition, he’s been coached on developing a strong mental strategy for being tough out there in the face of fear, unexpected hardship and the unknown.  That training is coming in handy as Chris reports on Jan. 12th from his standup paddle craft, the “exponential amount of challenges is indescribable.”


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Chris is working with Two Oceans Aquarium to document his historical transatlantic journey Photo by: Chris Bertish

No Fear only a Deepening Connection with the Ocean

In the past several days, Chris has had great encounters with sea life.  Everything from multiple species of dolphins, to sea turtles, blowfish and Man o’ War jellyfish have dropped by.  His encounters, he says, reminds him that he is never alone out there.  In his most recent Captain’s Log, he reveals his belief that the dolphins are there to help him feel safe.  Being sentient mammals, he believes they can sense his discomfort and sometimes stress and come around to keep him company, to make him feel less alone.

” I wasn’t really appreciating the dolphins as much as I normally would, as I was stressing about the many challenges I was having to deal with daily.  It only really dawned on me a couple days later, that I realized, that I believe dolphins, being one of the most intelligent mammals in the planet, can hear/feel/ read your signs/emotions/energy and were picking up my solo emotional stress and anxiety, and they were just coming by to check in on me for support daily, as they came by every day for the first 7 days straight.”


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Sea life surrounds this intrepid man and paddler, every stroke on the way

Staying Focused

Chris Bertish believes he is going to make it. His pace is steady, he is overcoming multiple challenges and his faith is intact. He is several hundred miles out into the middle of the Atlantic with a lot more to go before he can make the turn towards the United States and pick up the Easterly winds he hopes will help him arrive on Florida’s coastline.  His passion for raising money for these children (his efforts to date have raised just under five million dollars), his physical preparedness and his mental conditioning all make him a prime candidate for success.  He also attributes his deep personal connection with the ocean as being a guiding force on this journey.  He says, there is,

 ” a special connection I have with the deep blue out here.  It’s pretty incredible and to be perfectly honest, almost indescribable.”


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Sea Turtles or “Tarta-ruga” in Portuguese are his favorite 🙂 Photo by: Chris Bertish

You can Come Along on the Ride

You can help Chris by supporting his causes on his website The Sup Crossing project.  Those charities include:

Signature of Hope Trust:  whose aim is to build at least five schools in some of the poorest regions in South Africa.
The Lunchbox Fund:  seeks to establish an annuity that will provide a monthly dividend to feed and educate thousands of children
Operation Smile:  wants to establish an annuity to pay a monthly dividend to pay for life-changing cleft lip and palate surgeries for children born with them.

If you want to see something cool, check out Chris’ location on his LIVE TRACKER where you can follow him on the water and read his daily inspirational posts and Captain’s Logs.  Whatever you do, keep this guy in your thoughts because the further away he pulls from land, the more inspirational he becomes day by day, or as he says, “stroke by stroke.”

What do YOU stand for?



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Evelyn O'Doherty, editor & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0 is a former school teacher gone rogue. She left her career as a teacher in order to spend more time near or on the water after learning to surf turned her life around (upsidedown?). She is a year-round surfer and paddler living on the eastern tip of Long Island in NY who is a certified SUP instructor, seasoned SUP racer and avid longboard surfer. Evelyn was hired as Online Editor to Standup Journal in 2016. Her passion for the project quickly led to her success and eventually taking over the mag herself in Oct. 2018. Today, as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer at Standup Journal, Evelyn keeps her toes wet writing, traveling, paddling, surfing, and learning to foil. You can find her most days paddling out on Gardiner's Bay or surfing Ditch Plains in Montauk, NY.