Chris is a Mavericks Big Wave Champion, Sup Guinness World Record Holder, Inspirational Speaker, Author and Ocean Pioneer
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 12 September, 2017 - Chris Bertish of South Africa has been named 2017 Supconnect’s Editor’s Choice Award’s “Man of the Year” with his extraordinary accomplishment of the first successful, solo, unsupported Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
The Sup Crossing presented by Carrick Wealth was dubbed “the greatest open ocean adventure ever attempted” and deemed what many people thought to be impossible. Andre Niemeyer, Publisher at Supconnect Magazine exclaimed, "Chris Bertish has done more than the unimaginable: he has placed stand up paddle boarding at the forefront of mainstream and captured everyone's imagination.”
“It’s a huge honor to be named “Man of the Year – 2017” for this year’s Supconnect’s Editor’s Choice Awards," commented Bertish. "I hope the SUP Crossing has helped inspire people to believe in themselves and what’s possible. When you set your sights on a goal, believe in it with every fiber in your being and know it’s going to have a positive impact on others. You have the courage to never give up and follow it through, against all odds. We all have the ability to make a positive impact on others and the world, so give back whenever you can. Be the best version of yourself you can be and be the change you wish to see in the world."
Chris, Mavericks Big Wave Champion, Sup Guinness World Record Holder, Inspirational Speaker, Author and Ocean Pioneer, launched off the coast of Africa in Agadir, Morocco on December 6, 2016, traveling southwesterly past the Canary Islands, out into the open Atlantic Ocean. For 93-days, he navigated through some of the most harrowing ocean conditions conceivable. Under the masterful guidance of his offshore weather and routing guru, Leven Brown, Chris traversed 4,050 nautical miles/4,660 miles and over 2 million paddlestrokes, before landing to a hero’s welcome in English Harbour on the Caribbean Leeward Island of Antigua, March 9, 2017.
Bertish was among 30 Man of the Year finalists that included such prominent names in the sport as Bart de Zwart, a multiple world record holder and original pioneer in expedition paddling and Kai Lenny, the watersport enthusiast and numerous SUP title holder from Hawaii.
Supconnect's rigorous award selection process was based on ambassadorship, involvement, performance and support, and included consultation and observations from the advisory board, made up of members who are passionately involved in standup paddling and have unique perspective on the sport. Supconnect considered the many thousands of online interactions with the Awards from fans and consumers. An evaluation from the Supconnect Editorial Board and extensive feedback with retailers in the industry was also included. In the end, it was Chris’s unprecedented Sup Crossing Achievement that crowned him victor.
“In a world where nearly every frontier seems to have already been explored, Bertish has shown that there is still a grand world out there calling for adventure, which in his case meant crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a standup paddle board to raise funds for charities benefitting children.” said Andre.
Fueled with a gritty determination to make a difference in the world and to leave a self-sustaining philanthropic legacy, Chris raised over $400,000 USD for an annuity in his support of several charitable initiatives close to his heart. Bertish added, “No matter what it was going to take, I knew I had to get to the other side because I had the lives of millions of kids on my shoulders.”
The children and charities that will benefit over the next 15 years from the Sup Crossing initiative include:
The Lunchbox Fund, a Non-Profit Organization that focuses on fostering education via nutrition and providing a daily meal for orphaned and at-risk school children in township and rural areas across South Africa and where over 10,000 children will receive meals monthly from the Sup Crossing.
Operation Smile South Africa (OSSA), the initiative that provides free cleft lip and cleft palette surgeries to children and adults throughout Southern and Central Africa, as well as educational and training opportunities that promote sustainability and self-sufficiency throughout the region will receive funds every month to cover 5 surgeries.
Signature of Hope Trust, will build 1-2 small schools, which Bertish will personally help construct in areas where there’s a lack of money and facilities to educate and inspire future leaders, doctors, lawyers and teachers for generations to follow in and around South Africa.
In addition to the epic milestone of the Transatlantic SUP Crossing achievement, Bertish set multiple world records along the route including a new world record for a 24-hour solo unsupported and unassisted open ocean distance SUP. The total distance of the Sup Crossing in comparison is 23 times the equivalent of de Zwart’s 2014 previous world record. Bertish is no stranger to World Records, as he holds multiple SUP distance World Records, as well as the 12-hour SUP Distance Open Ocean Guinness World Record which still stands today.
With his experience as a keynote and inspirational speaker notorious for inspiring audiences with his tales of courage and determination, Chris says, “If you're driven by passion and powered by a purpose greater than yourself, you can get through any obstacle and obtain your goals and dreams."
Andre concludes, “His reach into the mainstream with SUP at the forefront does more than introduce the sport to millions, it encourages people to get up, get out, and conquer new frontiers. And for that, he is Supconnect Man of the Year 2017.”
On November 1, 2017, Supconnect will open online voting for the People’s Choice Awards. Consumers, fans, and the people who make this sport so great, will vote for their favorites in many categories including Paddler of the Year and SUP Event of the Year. The polls are vote based only, anyone can nominate themselves or anyone they think deserves recognition and the categories are completely different then the Editor’s Choice Awards.
Chris and the Sup Crossing is the current cover story on this month’s Stand Up Journal. The 14-page feature written by Evelyn O’Doherty is now on newsstands in the US. This volume of the magazine has been nicknamed “The Bertish Edition” by Clay Feeter, Publisher and Founder, as Bertish shows up in articles about Jeff Clark, Chris’s long-time friend, mentor and Mavericks pioneer and Richard Hallman, legendary Surf/Sup photographer.
Voting is still open at Sup the Mag where Chris has been nominated for Expedition of the Year. Chris will attend the Sup the Mag Awards Ceremony at Doheny State Beach, Dana Point, California on September 28, 2017 at 7 p.m. prior to the Pacific Paddle Games.