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Meet South Africa's most positive person, Chris Bertish

Chris Bertish (center) © Ocean Driven Film/Ryan Chris




SurfersVillage Interview

Giant surf, giant trans-Atlantic paddling and speaking in front of strangers are some of the challenges Bertish has tackled

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 23 April, 2017 -Bertish does scary, scary things like charging giant surf, solo paddling the Atlantic and (gasp!) speaking in front of large audiences. Here's how gnarly he is: Moments after nearly drowning, Chris Bertish charged the then-largest waves ever seen in a competition at the 2010 Maverick’s event. And won.

The well-spoken South African has also just completed a 4,500 trans Atlantic journey on a hybrid SUP, written a book and keeps busy giving motivational talks. He’s also the subject of a film titled Ocean Driven, a tale of overcoming obstacles and fears and redefining what is possible.


How would you describe what you do for work to a very small, inattentive 

I am very fortunate that I’ve worked really hard to be able to create an opportunity for myself to be able to follow my passions and do what I love and love what I do that really inspires me by surfing and SUPing and chasing big waves around the world and doing really cool adventures and by doing that I get to inspire lots of people around world, inspire lots of kids and change the lives of millions of little kids all over the world which is pretty cool.

What is that you do professionally that you are most proud of?
Hopefully inspire people to believe in themselves; to push their own borders, limits and boundaries; test themselves in what’s possible; redefine their own possible; change the lives of millions of little kids; protect the oceans; protect humanity and leave a positive impact on the world and on the planet.


What are you currently working on that you’re really excited about?
I’m excited about getting the next book done but it’s a big project and so is the film but I think the next project I have planned for 2020/21 I’m super passionate and excited about just because I see the potential in this project and how it can inspire millions and change the lives of literally 30 to 100 million people and that’s really awesome for me because I see the potential in everything and I see what we accomplished with the Sup Crossing and it can magnify tenfold and inspire the world and really make a dramatic impact and that’s pretty incredible and that will be focused on inspiration, education, and conservation around the world.

Tell us what has been your biggest mistake and what did you learn from
that mistake?
I don’t believe that I ever really make mistakes. I believe that everything  I do is just a giant learning curve and everything that I do there is no such thing as a mistake only a failure to try so when you try and you don’t succeed I don’t believe you’ve made a mistake or failed you have just learned another way on how not to do it and you’re closer to finding a solution on how you can get it right, You take everything you’ve learned and take all of those lessons take the knowledge and wisdom that you have gained from it and then apply it to be able to help you succeed and become better, wiser, stronger and more successful. That’s how I see it.

Share with us your biggest Rocky Balboa moment (you know, punching meat
in a freezer then running up the steps of City Hall with your own
special theme music blaring.)
Leaving Morocco on this adventure to “The Eye of the Tiger”, finishing in Antigua to similar music and winning the Mavericks event in 2010. Both of those are pretty high up there and pretty incredible monumental moments. Then on Christmas Day, I was having a low day, I was listening to INXS “Sweet Sensation” getting out there and rocking it while I was paddling in 25-30 knot wind and five meter seas and that’s what kept me going and my spirits up while wearing my Christmas hat.


If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? Selling shoes?
If I wasn’t doing what I am doing I would be working towards doing what I am doing.  I believe that a life wasted on doing something you hate is the greatest sin on earth. There is nothing more disappointing in life than dying with your music still within you.  So if I was not doing what I am doing, I’d be working towards doing it. It’s been a long hard road to get where I am but you know it’s been worth it and it just goes to show that the path less traveled is not the easy road but in life the easy road doesn’t get you to where you want to go.  Don’t follow the herd, march to the beat of your own drum and follow your passions and you will be amazed at what you’ll achieve and your dreams will be accomplished if you stay true to your passions.

OK, you get to drop into three moments in history – surf or otherwise.
Please name them and why.
    1.    When the South Africans won the Rugby World Cup in 1995 and united the Rainbow Nation
    2.    When Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as President
    3.    Muhammad Ali’s Funeral

I would have loved to be there for all of those events. Mandela and Ali are my two most inspiring people on the planet that I believe in. I believe in their morals, their principles and their message. Those who believe they can change the world because those are the people that usually do.

Bryan Dickerson

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