Standup adventure paddler Bart de Zwart, born in Holland and living on Maui, set a new speed and endurance record end of May when he completed the well-known 220km 11 Cities route in 28 hr 21m.
de Zwart, who made headlines last year with an inter-island Hawaii channel crossing in which he slept on his board four nights in a row, was hoping to beat the previous 11 Cities record of 37 hours.
"After doing the 220km 11-City race four times and winning it three times, I wanted to try and do this course non stop," says Bart. "In the beginning of this year fellow racer Jasper van Overbeek put in a time of 37 hrs. It was my ambition not only to do it non stop but also to put in a very fast time so the record will stand for awhile!"
Bart started paddling just before 6am in Leeuwarden, the first of the 11 cities. He maintained a strong pace right from the start, with his father offering support by vehicle. "I was eating as much as I could to keep the fuel coming in!" says Bart.
One of the biggest challenges was when nighttime fell, making navigation difficult. By the time he hit the twenty hour mark, he knew that if he was able to maintain his quick speed, he would be on pace to come in well under 30 – and indeed he did, beating the previous record by almost 9 hrs.
"I never crashed and could always keep a certain speed but I had a hard time after 21 hrs of paddling between 2 and 5 in the morning when I felt tired and sleepy at times," he said.
"I knew once I would get to Dokkum (the last city) I would be on my home stretch which would carry me to the finish."
The sprint was excellent training for two upcoming projects for de Zwart. One is a five day race in September but his main goal is to attempt to cross the Arctic in late June from Canada to Greenland. The multi-day expedition will have de Zwart eating, sleeping, and living on this SUP board. It's something he's done before, during a 5-day, inter-island channel crossing in Hawaii, but the conditions and temperatures with this adventure will bring new challenges.
“This one will be a very exciting expedition because it will be just above the Arctic circle,” he says. “And a challenging one because of the icebergs, weather and remote location. Right now I am in the middle of organizing this amazing crossing.”
We'll have more details on Bart's Arctic Crossing when he sets off. But in the meantime, check out his blog.