On Friday, December 9th, 2011, Fanatic Team Riders Belar Diaz, Fred Bonnef, Ramon Blanco and Jaime Herraiz (www.wet-tarifa.com) set out for another SUP first: Paddling from Spain to the African continent and back on the same day. Belar and Fred had already proven they are up for tough challenges by crossing from Ibiza to the Spanish mainland on a SUP with Annabel Anderson earlier this year.

Crossing from Spain to Africa is possible via the strait of Gibraltar, a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea (but there are strong eastbounds current, as the Mediterranean Sea level is 1.4m below the Atlantic one and typically west wind is prevailing). The strait’s depth ranges from 300 to 900 meters and it’s one of world’s busiest waterways with about 300 cargo boats passing it every day.

The adventure started in the small village of Getarez near Tarifa around noon from there, the fabulous 4 paddled all the way to Ceuta, a Spanish exclave in North Africa (to avoid trouble with Moroccan immigration).
Belar Diaz crossing the Strait of Gibraltar on a SUP
They did the first crossing (22km) in an amazing 2 hours and 30 minutes. Yes, the conditions were good, very little swell & wind plus slight current in the back, but the fact that there had been a 3-day waiting period for the crossing may have also contributed to the record-breaking time, after all the waiting everybody was eager to finally get on the water and give everything.
The paddlers where accompanied by Moncho’s sailboat – made in Bavaria, Germany – with 2 blonde girls, Kim and myself, who would have very much liked to have paddled a bit too,  but instead had fun being the cheerleaders, passing bananas, Coca Cola, chocolate chip cookies, pieces of chorizo and the odd beer to the riders, refilling camel backs and taking pictures and videos.
After briefly setting their feet on the African continent and a taking short break for some food&drinks, Belar, Fred and Ramon decided to try to paddle all the way back as well.
SUP Crossing the Strait of Gibraltar

The return paddle was much harder as it was against the current – it took 3 hours 50 minutes for 25km. The sunset paddle back was an amazing experience. There were lots of dolphins accompanying us part of the way, they seemed to have fun playing hide and seek with my camera and randomly jumping out of the water either to the left or the right of the SUPs and the boat. For the last few kilometers it was dark already, it was 6:50 PM when Belar, Fred and Ramon arrived back in Getarez, tired, but happy.

Equipment used:
2 Fanatic 14’ Downwind Boards, one Fanatic 14’ Flatwater Board and the white 12’6 x 30.5“
Quickblade Carbon Paddles and Fanatic Full Carbon Prototype
Boardshorts, Lycras, Spiral Leashes and Booties and Camelbacks
Paddling with Dolphins….
SUP Crossing the Strait of Gibraltar
And here’s what Belar and Fred said after the crossing:
Congratulations, Belar! How was it?
“The conditions were amazing for the strait, it was a beautiful experience, also paddling with dolphins and having huge cargo boats crossing right in front of us was unforgettable”.
Hey Fred, well done on the crossing, how was it for you?
“I have been living 7 years in Tarifa, just in front of Gibraltar s strait, and always had the idea of crossing it with my windsurfing board… Yesterday, finally, the dream came true with my stand up paddle board ! That was just amazing: I have never been that close from the dolphins and big cargo boats.  A once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Big thanks to Moncho with the boat, Wet Watersports, Fanatic and ION for making this adventure possible!
Here are some pics (click on the rectangle for fullscreen)
There are more pics on www.facebook.com/supguide. The video can be found here: