Six Historic Paddling Expeditions To Follow This Year

by Conor Mihell

MEN’S JOURNAL

From the High Arctic to the Southern Ocean, human-powered paddling feats over wild, open water will mark a 2021 for the books. A handful of paddling expeditions are launching in the months ahead, ready to mark new chapters in the annals of the sport. Notably, two trans-Pacific Ocean crossing attempts will be setting off from the mainland U.S. to Hawaii, plus bids across the Drake Passage and through the Northwest Passage. Meanwhile, other endurance paddlers keep plodding novel extended courses closer to home, day by day, including one man‘s circuitous 7,500-mile crossing of North America and an unprecedented, multi-year effort of one woman to paddle 30,000 miles around the entire North American continent.

Chris Bertish’s Trans-Pacific Wing Project

Big-wave surfer and motivational speaker Chris Bertish is following up a 2017 standup paddleboard crossing of the Atlantic Ocean with a bid to make the first-ever trans-Pacific journey by wing foil. You read that right: hydro-foiling across the Pacific Ocean. Bertish plans to set off from Half Moon Bay, CA, in June, on an estimated 3,000-mile, wind-powered trip to Hawaii. Bertish upgraded the super-sized “Flying Fish” SUP he paddled across the Atlantic with hydrofoils for his TransPac Wing Project. Bertish plans to follow prevailing winds and currents in the north Pacific, covering between 40 and 80 miles per day.

Cyril Derreumaux’s Crack at a Legendary Crossing

Cyril Derreumaux giving his custom, 600-pound kayak craft dubbed ‘Valentine’ a winter shakedown prior to his May 30 launch from San Francisco, aiming for Waikiki, likely 70+ days and 2,500+ miles south and west, outside the Gate. Photo by Teresa O’Brien Photography

France-born American Cyril Derreumaux will get a head start on Bertish, departing in May for a solo sea kayak Pacific crossing from California to Hawaii. Derreumaux, who set a Guinness speed record for rowing the same route as part of a four-man team in 2016, will attempt a paddling feat that’s only been accomplished by Ed Gillet (sea kayak) in 1987 and Antonio De La Rosa (SUP craft) in 2019. He’ll paddle a custom-built, live-aboard, solar panel-clad sea kayak that’s sleeker and far more seaworthy than the modified off-the-shelf tandem Gillet piloted over three decades ago. Derreumaux anticipates spending 70 days on the water.

Freya Keeps Paddling

The global pandemic forced Freya Hoffmeister to take a year off from her attempt to paddle around the North American continent. Instead, she spent 2020 sea kayaking in Norway and Sweden. But the German super-paddler, who has already circumnavigated Australia and South American, got an early start this year, tracing the Sea of Cortez and much of Mexico’s Pacific coast. Pending COVID regulations, Hoffmeister could eclipse the 600-day mark of a 30,000-mile expedition she anticipates will take up to a decade to complete.

Neal Moore’s Final Act

In February, we caught up with long-distance canoeist Neal Moore, who has spent the pandemic year adrift on America’s rivers. After descending the Mississippi River, Moore is headed north, linking waterways up to Lake Erie. This year he’ll aim to complete the third and final “act” of a 7,500-mile solo sojourn at the Statue of Liberty via the Hudson River.

Norman Miller. On the Missouri River in the Gates of the Mountain, Montana

Arctic Cowboys: Northwest Passage

A trio of Texans are waiting out COVID to finalize their plans to make an epic sea kayak journey through the Northwest Passage. West Hansen (who led a National Geographic-sponsored expedition on the Amazon River in 2012), Jeff Wueste and Jimmy Harvey, aka the Arctic Cowboys, will attempt the first documented single-season kayak transit of Canada’s arctic archipelago, with no land crossings—departing from either Pond Inlet on Baffin Island or Tuktoyaktuk at the mouth of the Mackenzie River, depending on COVID regulations. Either way, the journey will span some 1,900 miles with the goal of documenting how climate change is reducing polar ice coverage and opening up the passage of a mythical northern seafaring route. Along the way the team will travel the frigid waters that gave birth to kayaking, exploring waters that have never been paddled in modern times, and making open-water crossings up to 60 miles long.

De La Rosa’s Next Big Ocean Epic

Spanish adventure athlete Antonio De La Rosa has plotted an ambitious triathlon for the austral summer, traveling by standup paddleboard, sail, and overland in Antarctica. De La Rosa will SUP 600 miles from Patagonia to the Antarctic peninsula, across the feared Drake Passage. Then, the recent Eco-Challenge Fiji racer will retrofit his custom-build ocean board for sailing, making a 1,200-mile passage to South Georgia Island—emulating the path of Ernest Shackleton. De La Rosa will then follow Shackleton’s footsteps across mountains and glaciers to finish at the remote outpost on South Georgia’s east coast.

5 thoughts on “Six Historic Paddling Expeditions To Follow This Year

  1. THOMAS EIER

    DUGOUT CANOES HAVE PADDLED THESE 22 RIVERS FOREVER!
    Wednesday June 2,2021 all of the 7th and 8th Grade class of CLARKSTON, WASHINGTON Lincoln Middle School experienced living history at HELLSGATE STATE PARK on the Snake River. They learned about the NIMIIPUU and the discovery of GOLD in 1860 that brought 10,000 crazy miners and their entourage to form the IDAHO TERRITORY which the NezPerce families fought to stop. They also learned about Thomas Jefferson and the LOUISIANA PURCHASE of 1803 which sent the LEWIS AND CLARK EXPEDITION west following the same rivers Neal Moore has paddled. MATO CHANTE AMERICA’S DUGOUT CANOE invited all 200 plus students to sit down inside him and dream of what NEAL MOORE is doing in 2021. Explore AMERICA and always have reverence for her life blood ICHIWANA that feeds MOTHER EARTH. Sgt. Ordway of Idaho salutes Neal for sharing his story one paddle stroke at a time. If you have followed the journey of the CORPS OF DISCOVERY you will recall that on this date in history 6-3-1806 the 32 Military men and one woman 14 year old Sacajawea with son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau were using Nez Perce canoes to shuttle their hunters back and forth across the Clearwater River at Long Camp aka Kamiah, Idaho waiting for the next full moon to cross the Bitterroot Mountains. Chief Twisted Hair told the Captains they must wait until the snow had melted. Neal has so many stories to share with the worlds children once he finishes his mission at the Statue of Liberty on 12-31-2021….TEE IN ID

      1. THOMAS EIER

        IDAHO HUMANITIES COUNCIL has SHARP GRANTS available from the AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN. The official SHARP grant stands for Sustaining Humanities through the American Rescue Plan. The Object of our Mission is to make it profitable to Brother Neal to come back next year to MY IDAHO to share your amazing story in 2022 about 22 RIVERS OF LIFE you have experienced with our great USA HUMANITY!

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