Wingfoiling across the Pacific

Published on August 31st, 2021

Chris Bertish plans to do something that could be viewed as crazy. He’s going to cross the Pacific on a hydrofoil board with a wing. Alone. He’s estimating it’ll take him around 50 days, completely unassisted.

His plan was to leave the coast of California from Half Moon Bay in June, wing across the Pacific, and end up on Oahu, Hawaii in July. However, the 2021 Pacific hurricane season started early which shut his weather window down for the season until early next year.

No problem. It’s unlikely anyone will do it before him.

Bertish is an incredibly accomplished human being. He’s done more in his life than most, and he’s done those things because he simply refuses to quit. It’s an old cliché, but the saying “failure is not an option” could have first been uttered about him. He’s a champion big wave surfer, a stand-up paddle world-record holder, a waterman par excellence, an author, a motivational speaker, and a staunch environmentalist.

Incredibly, the Pacific crossing he’s planning, dubbed the TransPac Wing Project, won’t be Bertish’s first go at crossing an ocean. On the morning of March 9, 2017, Bertish completed the final strokes of his stand-up paddle voyage across the Atlantic. It took him 93 days and around 2.5 million paddle strokes. Twenty-two hundred hours alone in the vast sea, paddling for the horizon, mostly at night to avoid the sun’s harsh rays.

The journey, which began in Morocco, was originally supposed to end in Florida, but, as could be expected when crossing the Atlantic on a modified SUP, he ran into bad weather and technical issues that would have forced most people to give up. Instead, Bertish diverted to Antigua, some 1,500 miles south of Florida. He still completed his mission across the Atlantic, crossing 4,000 miles of wild, untamed ocean.

Bertish began his journey at about 175 pounds and finished at a little over 140. He ate what could be described as astronaut food — freeze-dried packages — as well as biltong (he is from South Africa, after all), a bite of chocolate, and an electrolyte powder/recovery shake mixed with water once a day. “It was a pretty scientific approach to nutrition,” Bertish said. “I’ve been fortunate to have done this stuff before, and I’ve learned a hell of a lot from that – and applied it to this project.”

Now he’s got his sights set on the Pacific — but this time, on a wing and a foil.

“I’m super confident on the craft’s performance and ability in all conditions, and am looking forward to the restart next season, as soon as the weather window opens up again and allows me to restart,” said Bertish.

Maybe throw in a prayer for good measure. For updates, click here.


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