In just a coupe of short years, hand-held inflatable kite wings have completely revolutionized the board-sailing world. Existing somewhere in the middle ground between kiteboarding and wind surfing, the wing has exploded in popularity like almost nothing we’ve ever seen. Prominent sailors like Jimmy Spithill, Francois Gabart and a host of others have become big advocates of the sport and frequently fill their Instagram accounts with pics and videos of them foiling around on their days off, propelled by nothing more than the wind and a simple hand-held wing.
While out-of-touch boomers will inevitably argue that “that’s not sailing”, they couldn’t be more wrong. Tacking, gybing, easing in puffs and trimming for speed, wing foiling is about as pure a sailing experience as you can get. The embrace of the wing by the sailing world – with major players like Ullman Sails and North Sails subsidiary Duotone becoming industry leaders – only further strengthen the ties between the sailing world and the wing foiling world.
With this entirely new type of sailing taking the world by storm and exploding in popularity, it was only inevitable that some crazy fucker would eventually try to cross an ocean with one. That man is apparently Chris Bertish. The South African born big-wave surfer, adventurer and motivational speaker has successfully attempted a number of extreme challenges in his life time. From winning the big-wave surfing contest at Mavericks in 2010 to being the first person to ever paddle a standup paddleboard (SUP) across an ocean in 2017, Bertish is quite an accomplished and well-rounded waterman. Hell, he’s even done some sailing and tasted victory in the So Cal 300 aboard the DSS-foil equipped Infiniti 46 Maverick.
Chris now has now set his sights on arguably his most ambitious challenge yet however; sailing across the Pacific on a small boat powered by a hand-held wing. Planning a solo and unassisted voyage from Half Moon Bay, California – the site of his beloved surf break Mavericks – to Honolulu, Hawai’i, Bertish has billed the journey ‘The Transpac Wing Project’.
With a slick fundraising video that seemingly tries to bill the journey as both a cure for COVID and a way to save the world, Bertish is trying to come up with 50 large to help fund the effort. With a remarkably high production value, some nice environmental and humanitarian tie-ins and a narrator that sounds like the guy from ‘300’, we have no doubt he’ll rustle up some dough and get to the starting line. Combine that with Bertish’ track record as an ocean pioneer and all around bad ass, we fully believe in Chris’ abilities to turn this dream into a reality.
Extensively re-fitting the craft that he standup paddled across the Atlantic in 2017, Bertish is aiming to add hydrofoils, a better autopilot and even a self-steering wind vane to help keep the boat on course to Hawai’i during this summer’s planned expedition. Look for Bertish to ship his boat from the UK to California in the Spring and rock up to Honolulu around the same time as the Transpac fleet. – Ronnie Simpson.