Most people do not feel like holding a paddle or being on the water after the grueling 220km SUP Eleven City Tour. Not so Mr. Endurance Bart de Zwart. He flew straight to Canada from Holland for another insane 220k endurance challenge race, which he won.
Bart, congratulations on winning the SUP division of Muskoka River X in Canada. For those not familiar with the event, tell us a little bit about it, what kind of race and experience is it?
This race is very different from anything else not only because of the distance (220 km) but also because other than with the help of some maps and a compass you have to find the way your self. You have to bring food, clothing, safety gear, camping gear on your board and race with it for the whole 2 days. No support what so ever, other than some encouragements and smiles at the check points. Different also, because there are 37 portages, places where you have to get your board out of the water and carry it through the wilderness around waterfalls, beaver dams and rapids
I looked up the race and came across the mandatory safety equipment list. That’s a lot of stuff and it all sounds pretty serious. Can you explain a little about all the gear required and what it is needed for? Did you take all that with Hollland to you already? How do you deal with the cold in both Holland and Canada?
Yes there is a serious gear list and gear check before the race. I brought everything form Maui to Holland and then to Canada. Key is to have everything on the list but still go as light as possible. First of all you need food for 2 days and and 2400 cal of emergency food, I bring bars, nuts, chocolate and mostly powder sport endurance drinks. Then you need 2 sets of extra clothing plus race clothing. I brought my Patagonia down pants and jacket and super light sweater and pants. And then you need a bivac bag, emergency blanket, medicine and other safety gear, rope, extra paddle, compass and many small items. I stayed warm because I brought the down gear and had a super light Supksin drysuit in case it would rain during the night or during the compulsory sleep stop on day 1.
In which ways is the paddling experience different from Holland, also in terms of board choice?
This is adventure but also more demanding because it took me 31hrs of mostly paddling and carrying the board. I went slightly wider with my board because of the different conditions. There is lakes, down river up river, rapids. So you need a versatile board with some extra volume for the gear you have to carry on the board.
What advice would you give some one who has been paddling a while and wants to get into endurance racing and challenges like crossings and circumnavigations, how can they get started and how should they go about it?
There are 2 things. Preparation and mind over matter. If you are prepared with your gear and know the conditions and are prepared for anything what can go wrong you are half way there. During an expedition or crossing it can be tough and rough so you need to really want this and keep going no matter how hard without taking any unnecessary risks. So start small and work your way to bigger tours and expeditions.
You paddled the Starboard Sprint in Holland and the Allstar in Canada, tell us a little more about the boards and what is your prediction for SUP Race Boards. Can they get any faster or have we reached a plateau? Will most of the innovation come in other areas like touring or yoga SUPs?
I work with Starboard on their boards so I know that the plateau is not reached. So far we have made the boards after every year. This year we went a little more narrow but with better stability. And stability is also speed. The Sprint is a pure flat water board with a very high average speed over longer time, narrow still stable because of the deep deck. The All star is more versatile and has a higher deck and is easier with buoy turns. Good in downwind too, and just slightly slower in flat water, very close though. The All star type board has made the biggest improvements. It is almost perfect in almost any condition which is pretty remarkable.
The other areas where there is more innovation coming is touring and fishing boards. Starboard comes out with my signature expedition board. A board made for longer trips, with extra volume and a front rudder for any kind of wind from any direction. For day trip to 7 day expeditions.
I know you just got back, but what is your next race? Do you have any new endurance challenges planned?
My next race is the Chattajack in Tennessee, a 31 mile river race with 300 competitors. The race was sold out within 10 days months ago. So this will promise to be a good one. I will be working this winter on a new expedition not sure where I will go but there is still so much to explore. I just found out a I had a parasite from Ethiopia in my system which didn’t let me perform 100% so in a couple of weeks I will be fit again and ready for the next race and I probably have to come back to the 11-city and proof I am still up there.
Oh wow, that makes your achievements even more impressive! Thanks Bart, we hope you feel 100% again soon, enjoy your time at home!