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He made history. On 9 March 2017, Chris Bertish became the first man ever to complete a solo SUP trans-Atlantic crossing. Setting his mind and heart on it, he dreamt it, saw it, believed it… and achieved it after 4600 miles, 2 million strokes and 93 days alone in the ocean.

It doesn’t get much more extraordinary than Chris. He burned 12 000 calories a day, which is the equivalent of an Ironman every day and for 93 days!

We followed his journey and learned some valuable lessons on the way. Here are 5 things Chris Bertish taught us from his SUP trans-Atlantic crossing experience:

1. Nothing is impossible

He proved his own life philosophy: “Nothing is impossible unless you believe it to be.” He banned the word “can’t” from his vocabulary, prepared for this journey over four years and believed he could do it. What makes his journey even more admirable is that he is by no means some sort of superhuman, full-time athlete. He is a regular working person, balancing his talent and work. Chris created his own opportunities to pursue his dreams and he never gave up.

In an interview with Magic Seaweed, he said: “Stay focused and determined and never give up, persevere, take actions towards your goals and dreams then you’ll eventually succeed. No matter what.”

2. One day at a time

When he finished his race, Chris Bertish told Magic Seaweed that he stayed focused day by day, one stroke at a time, one hour at a time. If you look at 93 days it’s terrifying but breaking it up and getting through that hour, that day is what got him over the finish line.

3. Keep calm in volatile situations

It was a unique challenge – no matter how volatile it got, nothing was going to change. He needed the endurance to get through every single day – or night. He paddled at night to avoid the scorching sun. And if he stopped paddling, he would not survive or get to the finish line.

“You can feel very inconsequential at sea. When that happens, you have to tune in and get in sync with what’s around you and go with the flow,” he said in an interview with the New York Times.

It was more than endurance, it was mental management. He needed to keep calm with a clear head in a volatile environment.

“That took every bit of strength and courage I’ve gained over the last 20 years of mental preparation and training.”

4. Let passion be your drive

He was all in. And even though it took four years to prepare for this journey, it was a lifetime of preparation that got him through it. In his interview with National Geographic, Chris said: “It was pretty radical, pretty incredible, driven by a passion and purpose greater than yourself – and that powered me to get through everything, day in and day out.”

5. Make it matter

Chris embarked on his journey to raise money for various charities. Through his efforts, he has set up donations as an annuity fund, to pay out every month for the next 20 to 30 years. He raised money for:

  • 164 Schools
  • 273 Operations monthly with operation smile
  • 5460 meals, every month, going to children with the Lunchbox Fund.

He completed his extraordinary feat to inspire hundreds of thousands of people around the world and changed the lives of millions of kids. He said that it was the purpose of the project that helped him overcome the challenges.”I knew that every single paddle I took would put a smile on a kid’s face and provide food for them, literally every stroke was the equivalent of one lunch box.