SAN FRANCISCO — A three-month paddleboat float across the Pacific Ocean might seem crazy to the rest of us, but for Antonio de la Rosa it was just another challenge.
The Spanish endurance athlete completed a 2,951-mile journey from San Francisco, California, to Oahu, Hawaii, on Saturday, using just a specially-designed stand-up paddleboard.
The journey took him 76 days — and he had company on every one: Plastic.
“I am feeling so good after 76 days in the middle of the ocean,” de la Rosa told CNN. He added that he hoped the trip would bring attention to the problem of plastic pollution in the ocean.
He said he saw plastic nets and other debris float past him every day.
He had set off from San Francisco on June 9 and posted daily updates on his Facebook page.
‘My arms and legs are my motor’
He didn’t have a support vehicle following him on the trip, so he packed everything he’d need — food, a desalinization system for drinking water and other necessities — on the 24-foot long paddleboard. There were solar panels on board to keep his GPS, communications, and other equipment charged.
The fully-loaded paddleboard weighed more than 1,500 pounds and it didn’t have any engines.
“My arms and my legs are my motor,” he said.
On a good day, he could paddle 40 or 50 miles, but if the current wasn’t cooperating, he might make it only 10.
The tiny boat had a sleeping area, but de la Rosa said he didn’t get much rest because he had to wake up every hour or so to check his GPS coordinates and make sure he was on course.
His sleep schedule still isn’t back to normal, but he said he’s able to sleep for a couple of hours at a time.
High seas birthday party
De la Rosa turned 50 during the crossing and said he celebrated with “one small cookie.”
He did catch some fish to add variety to his diet, but says he still lost about 25 pounds (10-12 kilograms).
He says he’s the first person to paddleboard from California to Hawaii.
In 2017, South African watersports pro Chris Bertish crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a paddleboard. He traveled from Agadir, Morocco to English Harbour Antigua in 93 days.
This wasn’t de la Rosa’s first epic journey.
In 2014, he rowed across the Atlantic Ocean by himself in a rowboat, paddleboarded through the Arctic Circle in 2016 and participated in extreme-distance cross country skiing and mountain bike races.
“I love this kind of life,” he said.
De la Rosa said he’s already thinking about his next expedition. He hasn’t worked out the details, but says it will be on land and probably somewhere cold.
He had a more pressing mission when he got to Hawaii, which was to “drink beer and have a hamburger.”