Inside the Ride: Antonio De La Rosa’s Pacific-Crossing Super-Craft

On Saturday morning, Antonio De La Rosa made ocean-crossing history as the first person to standup paddle from the mainland U.S. to Hawaii.

Hours after completing the historic voyage, the 50-year-old Spanish endurance athlete connected with local photographer Tony Heff to run through the design essentials of his custom-built 24-foot-long SUP super-craft dubbed Ocean Defender, which he paddled upright for 2,900 miles over 77 days, solo and unsupported.

The craft’s peanut-like profile allowed De La Rosa to paddle midship from either side without adjusting his stance. The open deck is equipped with navigation equipment like compass/GPS while a single, central 65-pound “fin” keeps the craft stabilized and on track. Stored gear and provisions fill the sealed tail compartment while sleeping quarters plus electric systems occupy a cabin in the the nose. All in that’s 1,500 pounds loaded.

But beyond the interior comfort yields of the self-righting design that De La Rosa describes as “a prototype,” there’s another key upgrade from prior adventurers who have completed the crossing exclusively under human power: technology. De La Rosa was wired and connected the entire journey, providing daily video-log updates. His nose to tail rundown here starts with the satellite internet router as well as the trio of solar panels providing 225 volts to charge a pair of 90-amp batteries to help charge his computer, phone, and most critically: his water desalinator.

De La Rosa’s self-contained custom craft is a worthy successor to other recent solo, paddle-powered Atlantic ocean crossers like Aleksander Doba (2017, as well as 2014 and 2011), and most closely akin to Chris Bertish (2017), with a design oriented specifically to standup paddling. And it’s a worlds-different upgrade from solo paddle-powered Pacific crossers like the modified tandem kayak used by Ed Gillet in 1987, not to mention 22-foot wooden dory rowed by Patrick Quesnel, who claimed the first solo human-powered crossing to Hawaii in 1976. However, the unique challenge of a solitary ocean crossing remains unchanged, as De La Rosa relives the sleepless final nights of his voyage with sidewinds pushing him dangerously off-course as he paddled past Molokai to his target landing on Oahu.

— Read more on De La Rosa’s historic crossing, and recent landfall in Hawaii, plus local news coverage of the landing below.

The article was originally published on Standup Paddling

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