With so many ultra long distance successes behind him, one would be forgiven for wondering what further challenges Bart de Zwart could possibly set for himself. But the indomitable Dutchman is not one to remain idle. On the eve of his tenth participation in the SUP 11-City Tour in his homeland, Bart de Zwart was kind enough to answer a few of our questions.
Bart, you are going to take part in another SUP 11-City tour. How is this race different that the challenges you already accomplished such as the 24h or the Yukon River Quest?
That is a very good question, because only 9 years ago when the 11-city was born, it was considered the longest race in the world and one of the biggest challenges. Now, with the Yukon River Quest being a 62-hour event with 52 hours of paddling, the 11-City doesn’t seem to be all that extreme any more.
Having said that, I think every race is a challenge because you always try to go as hard as possible. If you race 5 hours a day for 5 days it is at a different race than when you race for 50 hours, but both push you to the limit. This year, to challenge myself, I will take part in the 50-hour event, and then follow up with the 5-day 11-city race.
The race is to be held in Holland, where you are originally from. Has it been an advantage for you over the last few years to compete on home turf?
The advantage for me is that I have family there and after having competed 9 times now, I know the course very well. As the course is the same every year, the challenge lies in the racing, not in knowing the course.
Although I still mix up each city’s name. Most of them are more like villages. They’re small, but they have city status.
What are you expecting from this year’s event?
My goal is to finish first in the non-stop event and still do well in the 5-day race. To reach the top 5 or the top 10 in the latter would be great. We will see how it goes after the non-stop. This summer has been very windy in Holland, or so I’ve heard.
So this year might be a very different year than the previous ones. We have gotten lucky these past few years conditions-wise. I think we are due for a windy and tough 11-city race, which will make it a very different event than before. This year is also interesting for 2 additional reasons.
Mistral will show up with a big team, mainly from Tahiti, and Starboard will also bring out the heavies. It will be interesting to see how that goes. And this year we will have 2 time-trial stages, where you are not allowed to drift and people start with 30 second or 1-minute intervals. The first half of day 2 and the last day will be time-trials.
You have broken almost all the ultra long-distance SUP records. With all these achievements behind you, what further goals do you have?
In the future I will still take part in some of the ultra long distance races, but I’ll also participate in an increasing number of expeditions.
This November I will notably take part in the Marquesas Expedition. A trip between all the French Polynesian islands, following in the footsteps of Thor Heyerdahl. We will be paddling and doing some windsurfing between each island.
The Marquesas are a beautiful part of the world with a very interesting landscape and culture. I still have many ideas for other expeditions. So much to explore out there.