He Traveled From California to Hawaii on a Paddleboard — and He Didn't Like What He Saw

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Antonio de la Rosa Pacific Super Challenge 2019
Antonio de la Rosa paddled just over 2,900 miles powered by his arms and legs.

Posovisual.com/All rights reserved

Spanish endurance athlete Antonio de la Rosa took 76 days to cross the Pacific Ocean. He did it alone on a specially designed 24-foot stand-up paddleboard named the Ocean Defender.

De la Rosa completed the 2,951-mile trip from San Francisco to Oahu, Hawaii, in late August after setting out in early June. His goal was to raise awareness about man-made pollution in the ocean.

"SAVE the OCEAN," the side of his paddle board reads. "NO plastics, NO nets, RECYCLE."

Antonio de la Rosa
De la Rosa described his trip as 'absolute loneliness and self-sufficiency.'. Posovisual.com/All rights reserved

Plastic at Every Turn

Along the way, he saw plastic at every turn, some of which may have been part of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

"I keep seeing every day some plastic packaging and remains of fishing nets," he wrote on a translated Facebook post. "Although it is not much, there is no day that I do not locate some plastic floating. We need to change things as soon as possible [and] try not to return a single non-organic waste to the ocean."

First Solo Vessel Crossing of the Pacific

De la Rosa posted daily Facebook updates and videos that he shot on a GoPro camera. He shared everything from his physical struggles with sunburn and wind to his occasional successful attempts at fishing.

Because he didn't have a support vehicle following on his trip, he packed food, a desalination system for drinking water, and other necessities to last for his entire journey.

His vessel was a combination of a paddleboard and a small boat. It had a small watertight compartment for sleeping and storage, and weighed 1,543 pounds. Solar panels kept his GPS, satellite phone and router charged. There were no engines.

"My arms and my legs are my motor," he told CNN.

De la Rosa spent his 50th birthday on the paddleboard.
De la Rosa spent his 50th birthday on the paddleboard. Posovisual.com/All rights reserved

He estimated that on a good-weather day, he paddled about 40 or 50 miles. But if the current was strong, he maybe only went 10 miles.

De la Rosa says he was the first person to cross the Pacific Ocean on a stand-up paddleboard. But this isn't his first big expedition. He also raced across the Atlantic Ocean in a solo rowing vessel and canoed across the Canary Islands.

"I saw the curve of the world," he told Hawaii News Now, when he finished his adventure. "Every year I think, 'OK. What I do next year?' I love this kind of life."