California to Hawaii in 76 days by Paddleboard

Antonio de la Rosa has become the first person to paddleboard from California to Hawaii. On August 24, the Spanish endurance athlete completed his 4,750km journey in Honolulu, 76 days after setting out from San Francisco.

A lei-bedecked Antonio de la Rosa in Hawaii, left, and on the open Pacific. Photo: Antonio de la Rosa

After two years of planning, De la Rosa set off on June 9 on his custom-designed paddleboard. This “paddleboat”, as he has calls it, includes a sleeping area, a desalination system for drinking water and solar panels for his GPS, radio and computer.  The seven-metre-long craft also carried three months of freeze-dried food. All together, it weighed 680kg when he began.

De la Rosa’s custom-designed paddleboat. Photo: Hawaii News Now

Previously, he had paddleboarded along the Arctic Circle, rowed alone across the Atlantic and circumnavigated the Iberian coast on a SUP. This latest challenge was a completely solo journey “of absolute loneliness and self-sufficiency”, as he put it. He celebrated his 50th birthday alone and adrift in the mid-Pacific. He had no safety vessel.

De la Rosa paddled for 10 hours a day and woke every hour at night to check his location and make sure that he had not been blown off course. During his journey, he encountered whales and other marine life, and had to overcome strong currents, blistering heat, winds and hurricanes.

At one point, he was within 100km of Hurricane Flossie, which pushed him off course and forced him to change direction. But the most challenging part was getting past California’s coastal waters. It took him 10 hard days to put the currents and onshore winds behind him.

The first person to cross the Pacific on a paddleboard. Photo: Antonio de la Rosa

Even though paddleboarding is his favourite sport, he admits that he won’t be doing it again for a few years. Instead, for something different, he’s considering a mountain biking or winter expedition.