PADDLER: Justin Riney
This year marks Florida’s 500th birthday. Justin Riney, founder of conservation group Mother Ocean, wants Florida’s wildlife and its habitat to be around for 500 more years. So he’s spending half the year circumnavigating Florida’s coastline and the other half exploring inlets, estuaries and rivers all to connect with communities and raise awareness for these sensitive areas. Riney is paddling unassisted with 143 pounds of gear on board as he takes on the waters of the Sunshine State. He’s also running his non-profit on the go, spending one day out of six doing laundry, replenishing supplies and answering emails. That’s multi-tasking.
PADDLER: Scott Mestrezat
Who doesn’t daydream of quitting their job and going on a grand adventure? That’s just what Scott Mestrezat did when he recently quit his gig in finance to paddle the length of the Missouri River. The 100-day, 2,341-mile journey will all be done on Mestrezat’s wooden, hand-built paddleboard from Chesapeake Light Craft. He’s also raising money for Big City Mountaineers, a program that provides wilderness experiences to inner city kids who might not get the chance otherwise. “I’m doing it because I had tons of outdoor opportunities when I was younger and it shaped who I am,” he says.
PADDLER: Chris Bertish
Chris Bertish needed a warm up. The South African chose the west coast of his home country, a 320-kilometer stretch from Cape Point to Lamberts Bay known for it’s cold water, powerful wind, raw surf and large, toothy marine life. Bertish had to earn his finish: he only had nine kilometers of downwinding the whole trip (sometimes fighting a 30-40 knot cross-wind), he paddled past sharks, he got as far as 15 miles offshore and his exposure to the sun was so intense that he temporarily went blind and lost the skin off the top of his feet. But he made it in eight days completely unassisted, with no safety net. “I thought I was going to die numerous times,” he told SUP magazine. What was he warming up for? Bertish is planning a 3,500 kilometer supported paddle across the Atlantic for this winter. Hardcore.
PADDLER: Shane Perrin
If you were robbed of your necessary gear in the middle of the night during an eight-day, 300-mile stage race would you quit? Shane Perrin almost did during the WaterTribe Everglades Challenge, yet another grueling paddling race in which Perrin was the first standup paddler to enter. He said he was done, via Facebook, because he didn’t have the necessary gear to continue. The post rallied his supporters, however, and soon Perrin had enough in donations and borrowed schwag to keep going. He finished the race and continued on another 100 miles past the finish line to Key West to raise awareness for tissue and organ donation. Because that’s how Perrin rolls.
PADDLER: Bart de Zwart
Bart de Zwart is a man who knows how to push his limits. He’s SUPed nonstop across the Hawaiian Islands, crossed the North Sea from England to Holland and won the Netherlands’ famed five-day, 220 kilometer stage race, the 11-City Tour, four times. Yet de Zwart wasn’t (and isn’t) satisfied. In May, he completed the 11-City Tour course in one continuous push. It had been done earlier in the year by Jasper van Overbeek in 37 hours. De Zwart smashed the record, finishing in 28 hours and 21 minutes. Why? “After you have done something hard, life is even more beautiful after that,” he told SUP magazine.
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