“If you truly believe in yourself and persevere, anything is possible!” So says South African sportsman extraordinaire, Chris Bertish, who made headlines as a world record holder for the first, solo, unsupported transatlantic SUP crossing early in March. The amazing spirit with which he approached this remarkable adventure is a spirit that all South Africans will to well to embody and imitate now.
In an interview with David O’Sullivan describing the 93 days it took to cross the Atlantic Ocean, he said, “I was constantly under water and constantly wet and being thrown around pretty dramatically and pretty violently a lot of the time.
“I think there’s nothing that can really prepare you for that… I didn’t realise that it was going to be as tough as it was for as long as it ended up being. I think it was just about having the right mental state and attitude and gratitude… and trying to find the positive in the negative. And an opportunity in an obstacle and just keeping very positive from a purpose perspective and that’s what sort of to help drive me and be able to get me through the most difficult times.
After setting off on 6 December 2016 on the greatest ocean adventure ever attempted from the eastern coast of Morocco, he had about 7 500km to go before he reached English Harbour in Antigua. On arriving there, a flotilla guided him to the finish line to a hero’s welcome. His friends and family, Antigua locals and project supporters from around the globe turned out to watch history being made, and cheer him on during the final strokes to the finish.
His travels in the ImpiFish were to a particular end: Bertish undertook the crossing project in aid of children’s charities, The Lunchbox Fund‚ Operation Smile and Signature of Hope, raising in excess of R5 million so far.
Sporting quite a tan and looking wirier than ever, he hugged his loved ones who wiped away tears of joy and relief. Bertish spoke more remarkable words: “If you truly believe in yourself and persevere, anything is possible… After over three months’ solo on the open ocean, I am here, on land again with friends and family – my feelings of accomplishment and extreme gratitude for everyone that made this incredible journey possible are beyond words.”
— Chris Bertish (@chris_bertish) February 26, 2017
Liesl Jobson is an writer, photographer and musician. Formerly a consulting editor of Books LIVE, she is now Fetola’s media co-ordinator. She is the author of Ride the Tortoise, 100 Papers, (which was translated into Italian as Cento strappi) and View from an Escalator as well as three Book Dash children’s books. She enjoys promoting the success of the small business entrepreneurs who make South Africa work.