In between racing at St. Maxime and Lost Mills, Bart de Zwart embarked on yet another crazy endurance challenge, crossing the North Sea on a SUP, from England to Holland (arriving at the spot in Zandvoort), solo and unassisted. It was about 182 kilometers and it took him 37.5 hours. The details on the course, equipment and preparation are here.

We spoke to him at the Lost Mills Race in Germany to learn more about this adventure. Here’s what Bart said:
Congratulations, Bart on the inaugural crossing of the North Sea on a SUP, from UK to Holland, solo and unassisted! Tell us about it! How did it go? The North Sea is pretty rough, no?
The conditions were typical North Sea. I had everything: cold, windy, foggy, West wind, East wind, South wind, no wind, 2 crossing swells. And even a clear night with no wind. So the weather was challenging but made it really North Sea. Except for the fog and the head wind it was OK. The fog made it more challenging because of all the ships. I needed to listen and act fast. But most of the time visibility was enough to see a little bit ahead.
Which board and paddle did you use?
I used a STARBOARD race 14’ x 28 (coast runner) a reliable board which is good in flat water and down wind conditions. My paddle is a STARBOARD endure premium carbon size 475.
How did you plan your route? And how did you stay on track? How did you navigate at night, when it was dark?
I have been planning my route and checking the weather patterns for 2 months. My start in Lowestoft was based on expected wind direction. I used a  compass and have 2 GPSs to navigate and stay on course. I used a headlight at night to check the compass and every couple of hours I checked the GPS to monitor progress and direction I am going, It is actually relatively easy at night because the other ships are easy to spot and it’s easy to  see where they are going.
It took you 37.5 hours. Were you awake all the time? Did you paddle all the time? Or did you sleep in between?
I paddled almost non-stop, I had two 30 min and two 15 min. lay-downs  (you basically sleep maybe 5 min. after which you check shipping and then do another power nap). I had a short break almost every hour for a couple of minutes to eat something. Food is very important to keep paddling for more 38 hours.
What was the hardest part? Did you ever consider quitting?
The hardest part was after 24 hours of paddling when I got into head winds. I still had to paddle almost half the distance and my speed slowed down to 2 knots. I never considered quitting. You can’t, if you commit to doing something like this, quitting is not an option (only in life threatening situations I would). You have to know what you are doing, it is not good for Stand up or for me to quit so when I do something like this I know I will finish it….maybe don’t end up where I planned but I will finish. So apart from being physically fit the mental part is even more important.
Which crossing was harder, this one or the 300 Mile Hawaii Island Paddle?
The Hawaiian crossing was 5 days and night and in that regard hard and also because being wet for 5 days and nights isn’t easy for your body. But I slept/rested at night during those 5 days . On the North Sea crossing I paddled for more than 37 hours straight which made it hard in it on way. Every crossing has its challenges but that’s why I do them. You come out a different person after you go deep to reach that goal.
Thanks Bart, and we are looking forward to your next adventure!

Bart arriving at the Spot in Zandvoort , he was welcomed by about 30 people who stayed up all night to welcome him (http://www.facebook.com/TheSpotbeachclub)

 

Honour this great achievement by voting for Bart as Top Expedition in 2012: http://www.supthemag.com/sup-awards/vote/2012-top-expedition/