who go on transoceanic or long distance solo expeditions wake up one day and
think ďI want to row across the Atlantic
ocean?Ē Historically people have taken every kind of watercraft & even
swam themselves across oceans, but a new breed of adventurers has arrived. Rugged and daring individuals who find that Standup
Paddle Boarding across great distances of water is fulfilling and are summoned
to the challenge by higher powers or perhaps the voice within.
We all know
paddle boarding is a workout in itself; therefore the people who attempt these
types of expeditions truly take stand up paddling to the next level. Expedition
paddle boarding requires very specialized gear, intensive training and large
amounts of planning. Did I forget to mention the extreme athletes have an
extreme courage and passion that not many people possess? Besides the mental
qualities and physical stamina required letís take a look at the other elements
required for SUP expeditions.
Expedition boards: These boards are some of the most
unusual and sophisticated SUPs out there. They are wider and longer than a
standard touring board. They are often modified, with removable decks for
storage of water and supplies. They have steerable rudders to help keep the
boards moving in the right direction and help reduce fatigue. Each person who
chooses to embark on a SUP expedition uses a custom board they have modified to
their specifications and preference. Expedition boards are also often much thicker
and bigger than a standard board to accommodate all the extra weight of gear.
Planning and preparation: Paddle board expeditions face
unique challenges, because riders are spending the majority of their time
standing up during the journey. Planning these expeditions typically starts a
year prior to the actual expedition. Since many of these expeditions take place
on oceans or in very remote parts of the world, people planning expeditions
have large teams and sponsors who help with support, weather forecasting,
packing, etc. Preparing for an extended paddle means vigorous training for
months leading to the actual expedition. Learning survival skills, first aid,
proper diet and hydration practices must all be learned. Being in peak shape is
very important and the ability to remain calm in emergency situations is vital.
Those who attempt expeditions are often world class athletes who also compete
in various other athleticisms across the world.
The gear an
SUP explorer packs is one of the most important considerations. Because there
is very limited space on board, what you bring must be carefully thought out.
is an example of an SUP explorerís packing list for a 5 day SUP trip:
Board: Custom expedition board with navigation and steering assists equipped
with grab line around the perimeter for attaching all the gear to.
Gear: 2 paddles, 3 leashes, Sea anchor, Survival blanket, GOPRO Camera Hero
3, Small waterproof hand camera, 2x GPS units, Tracker, iphone, Hand desalination
device, 3x Compasses , 2x Headlamp, Strobe lamp, VHF radio, Backup batteries
for all devices plus solar battery charger.
Clothing: Dry Suit, 2 x under layer
pants , 2x thin under layer shirt, 2x warm under layer shirt, 1x thin down
1x thin down body, 3x warm socks, 3x Hat, 2x surf shorts, 2x long arm lycra
Water and food: 25+ liters of water packed
in several 2 or 4 liter containers stored within internal board cavities, electrolyte powder, liquid bike food , protein powder, recovery drink powder, oat
breakfast with milk powder (just mix in water), dry freeze meals, heat packs, sport
bars, nut and dry fruit mix, chocolate bars.
Medicine package: Strong painkillers, 3x antibiotics, athletic tape, bandages,
sunscreen and blocker, survival first aid kit, allergy medications.
Repair kit: Epoxy, tools, rope, tape,
2 pocket knives.
Emergency: Flares, life vest, mirror,
whistle, sea chart.
Sleeping kit: Inflatable bed, small hand pump, straps.
All of this gear is for a 5 day trip that is confined to the space on and in
the riderís SUP. In addition to the
riderís necessary space on the board, the deck becomes a very cramped space. Paddlers
also sleep on their board so their bed is often small and uncomfortable.
World Record SUP Expeditions:
past year has seen some world record breaking SUP expeditions including the
first solo Canada to Mexico voyage on an SUP. Will Schmidt of Are You Inspired Yet navigated a SIC F-16 stand up paddleboard solo and largely unassisted
from Neah Bay, WA to Swiftsure Bank in the Strait of Juan de Fuca (Canadian/US
border) and paddled south 1386 miles to the USA/Mexico border fence in Border
Field State Park, Imperial Beach, CA. The voyage lasted 61 days total with 58
days of actual paddling. Schmidt surfed to the shore and touched down at the
border fence at approximately 6:45pm on Saturday, July 26th, 2014. He was
raising money and awareness about active duty and veteran US service members
suffering from post combat anxiety, depression, PTSD, and traumatic brain
2014 was also the first time someone paddled
unassisted from Tahiti to Bora Bora. Bart de Zwart paddled 4 days and 3
nights to become the first person to paddle unassisted across French Polynesia.
He has also spent a week in 2013 in the Arctic Circle paddling the Greenland coast, starting in Ilulissat and
finishing hundreds of kilometers south of there in Sisimiut, to help raise
awareness about the rapidly melting ice fields in the Arctic Circle.
These expeditions and the countless more starting to make news all over the world are helping spread the SUP craze and help causes gain attention from the public. Remember expedition paddling isnít something just anyone can go out and do. Itís dangerous, full of challenges and shouldnít be taken lightly. Consider the New Breed Of SUP Explorers to be world class athletes that are in amazing shape.