5 days and 4 nights. Last month Nicolas Jarossay put his Transatlantic SUP Crossing board prototype to the test in live conditions for the first time and his confidence is rising… In January 2016, he will embark on what is expected to be a 2-month journey accross the Atlantic ocean.
Hello Nicolas, first of all, where and how far did you go over 5 days?
We left at 2 pm on Monday August 3rd from Antibes in the south of France on the Mediterranean sea and we headed south. We covered 180 kilometers in total. So basically we went half way to Corsica and returned to Antibes on the Friday. I was accompanied by the Septentrion Environnement team on a sailboat.
What distance did you cover everyday ?
I paddled everyday for about 40 kilometers and very often in upwind conditions. On my biggest day I managed to paddle for 50 kilometers. This is pretty satisfactory as we met some adverse winds right away. One night we even drifted for 30 kilometers. Given that I should have favourable currents and winds with me during the Crossing in January, I am fairly confident and expect to paddle 60 kilometers per day then. On one of the 5 days, I had between 12 to 15 knots with me and I did an average of 7,5 kilometer per hour, so yeah, it’s promising and it definitely lends some credibility to the project. Basically between January and March I will need to do 12 times what I did last month.
How stable is your board ?
Very. In the med, we have a cross swell with lots of breaking waves. One night I was pretty shaken sideways but also forward and backward. On a couple of occasions, I thought the board would capsize but it didn’t. I also tested the drift-anchor and it works really well, even in very tough conditions. With a force 4 to 5 wind, the board would face the waves and stay still.
How much water do you need to drink on a daily basis? How much will you take with you?
I need to drink 8 liters per day. In the morning, I woke up with the sun before my team on the boat and would pump my drinking water for 1 1/2 hour to 2 hours. Having enough drinking water for the day is compulsory. The rule is simple : No water, no paddling. I am still trying to find another way to provide for my daily needs of water. I am studying various sun-powered systems but there any many cons against it, weight being the most obvious one.
In January I will leave with 20 liters in stock with another 10 liters in my survival kit. The 20 liters will be used if I need to take a refuge in the board for a few days during a storm. And I’m hoping to not have to use the other 10 liters.
What did you eat?
At last I could have a real taste of the freeze-dried food and the result is that I lost 2 kilos over 5 days so I need to fine-tune this with the 3 nutrionnists who follow me. We have figured out that I need to intake 6000 calories per day and the freeze-dried bags are just not enough. We are looking for ways to introduce more fat in my diet, maybe through dry fruits and cured meat. I am expected to lose 10 to 15 kilos in 2 months of crossing so it’s really important that I don’t lose half of it in the first week. Water and energy is a key part of this challenge.
How did you sleep?
Surprising well. I woke up often but my sleep sessions were deep and restful. My subconscious mind might have been at ease due to the sailing boat not being too far though…
Did you stay on the board for 5 days non-stop ?
Not exactly. I joined the Septentrion Environnement crew in the evening for dinner and in the morning for coffee. I only ate my food the whole time though and managed to resist the temptation of having a bite at theirs. Apart from that I was on my board the entire time and the sailboat stayed a few miles away from me during the day. I actually think it was a much harder 5-days for them than it was for me. A sailboat with no sails is no fun. It rocks a lot and it is really slow.
What wildlife did you get to see ?
On the Thursday, an army of dolphins accompanied me for half an hour. There were maybe 40 or 50 of them. It was a true magic moment. Some baby dolphins were playing in the ripples created by the board. In order to keep up with them I had to speed up and the faster I would go the more fun they would have.
I also witnessed tunas hunting pilchards. They hunt in groups and jump vertically out of the water, then fall on their back on hundreds of pilchards.
Lots of jellyfish were attracted by my front light and I saw a lof of bioluminescent plankton which is an amazing sight to witness. There was also a whale but I only saw it from a large distance. The team on the boat had a much better glimpse.
I also saw some amazing sunsets and moon rises. I had never experienced a moon rise before. A red moon with an amazing light. It was superb.
Is there anything you need to improve on the board ?
The board I am using right now is a prototype so this 5-day test was crucial for me to identify the areas that need to be improved for the definite one. The number one issue to solve is that in the event of capsizing, the board currently fails to find its initial position.
Also, this is pretty obvious, but I need a waterproof door to the sleeping cabin. Other minor improvements will include portholes on the cabin sides, storage spaces under my feet in the middle of the deck and handlebars here and there….
Are you planning to train hard until January?
Over the next three months I will train but the idea is certainly not to over do it. I will be doing a second VO2MAX test soon but over 1 hour this time. My physical trainers are pretty confident.
At the end of the month, I will take an ocean survival course with the french customs forces.
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