Antonio De La Rosa’s first contact with another human being since he paddled away from San Francisco on June 9 came Friday off the coast of Molokai.
Fishing captain Kekoa Seward spotted him.
“Aloha! Welcome to Hawaii!” Seward shouted.
“Thank you!” De La Rosa shot back.
The 42-year-old ultra endurance athlete from Spain paddled into the Waikiki Yacht Club at 8 a.m. Saturday, becoming the first person to cross the Pacific Ocean as a stand-up paddleboarder.
“This is record! For me and for everybody,” he said.
De La Rosa covered 2,500 miles of open ocean solo, using wind, currents and elbow grease.
“No. No motor. This is the motor!” he laughed, pointing at his bicep.
His 24-foot vessel named the Ocean Defender is a combination paddle board and small boat.
It’s custom-fitted with a sleeping cabin, storage bins, desalination unit and solar panels for powering electronics.
“The radio, GPS and computer,” he said
De La Rosa estimated it would take 70 days to cross the Pacific Ocean. He did it in 76.
There was no escort vessel.
He was all alone.
“I carried food for 90 days. And I’m happy. I have extra food on my boat,” he said.
GoPro cameras documented his days and nights at sea.
He estimates he lost about 10 pounds, but never got sick despite very little sleep.
“Every hour I get up, check the GPS, checking the direction, moving the system,” he said.
The effects from Hurricane Flossie pushed him off course and forced him to correct his direction.
“I was to the north, and I think, ‘Oh. What happened!'” he said.
Loaded down the Ocean Defender weighed more than 1,300 pounds.
“It’s difficult moving this kind of boat with a very small paddle,” he said.
On his journey he encountered floating plastics, nets and discarded lines.
Despite the eyesores he said the view out there was breathtaking.
“I saw the curve of the world. Every year I think, ‘Okay. What I do next year?’ I love this kind of life,” he said.
De La Rosa estimates the trek cost $100,000. He financed much of the money through the adventure companies he owns in Madrid. The rest came from sponsors.
He’s done many extreme adventures, once rowing across the Atlantic Ocean.
Now he’s conquered the Pacific.