Physical Toll on the Body – Chatting with Chris Bertish, Part I

Chris Bertish homecoming Antigua
Chris Bertish arrives in English Harbour Antigua on Saturday, a little worse for wear and tear, but whole and happy. Success!
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I had the chance to do an online interview with the man, the legend, Chris Bertish upon his arrival in Antigua.  He is, in person, as he is:  larger than life, full of good force and energy and enthusiastic about his project, stoking other people out and being of service.

I was and am wildly inspired by his journey, as I know you are too.  Here’s a quick snippet from our convo and a smattering of what you can expect in our feature article on Chris in our upcoming Characters of Sup print edition.

Chris Bertish Antigua The SUP Crossing
Chris Bertish in those final miles to English Harbour in Antigua, takes in the reality of it, his journey and his success. Photo by: Marco Bava @Marco_bava_

Paddling 14 to 16 hours a day becomes your new norm

I asked Chris how he was feeling, physically, after having landed in Antigua at the end of crossing 4050 nautical miles of ocean, alone and unassisted, on a paddleboard.  He laughed.  Then he said,

“It’s amazing.  My body feels super strong after 93 days of paddling.  At first, it was confused why/how it had stopped.  It’s incredible what the human body can do, can adjust to.  For example, I was paddling 14 to 16 hours a day! But, you can tell your body what to do and then it gets used to that new reality.  That becomes your new norm.”

Chris Bertish arrival antigua
How does a 42-year-old body withstand the strain for paddling 4050 miles? With the mind, says Chris. Photo by: Marco Bava @Marco_bava_

Incredible Stress and Strain

Chris did say that there was incredible strain and stress that he had put on his body.  Shortly before he left – 4 months prior to his departure from Morocco – he had undergone rotator cuff surgery on his left shoulder.

“It was from overuse,” he said.

The surgeon, who was a good guy, told Chris that as he had been over compensating for the injury by over using his right side and he probably had about 5 or 6 years left before he’d have to have the other side done.

Chris laughed again.

“He probably wasn’t expecting me to put in over 2 million rotations over the next few months and spend 93 days paddling at sea!”

Chris is headed back to the U.K. for rotator cuff surgery when he gets home.  Other than that, he mentioned his hand was perpetually cramping from holding his Ke Nalu paddle for so long.  He’s hoping that will just go away after his body begins to realize the hard work is done – for now – and can rest.

Stay tuned for Chris’ discussions about mental strength and endurance, using the power of his WHY, next here at Standup Journal Online!