Cyril Derreumaux, after his California-Hawaii crossing by kayak: “I am no longer the same man”


"You have just come from set foot on the ground in Hawaii. How was this last day?
It was a long day. Last night (Monday evening), I dropped the floating anchor a few nautical miles from the bay. At 2 am, I wake up and realize that I am drifting northwest. I was 6 miles away, so I got back on the oar at 2:30 a.m. and gave it my all. It was great to be able to fully enjoy the sunrise from the kayak. On the one hand, I was ready to go home, and I wanted to find my loved ones. On the other hand, it was a kind of heartbreak to tell me that this adventure, which was my daily life for 91 days, was coming to an end.

Did you have a welcoming committee to welcome you to Hawaii?
My parents came from Lille, and many of my relatives made the trip: my partner, my brother, friends... I felt a really strange feeling, almost too much positive emotion. I feel a bit overwhelmed by this amount of feeling.

Throughout your adventure, you posted a lot of messages for Internet users who followed you via a GPS tracker, about your daily life but also about broader topics, sometimes philosophical...
This journey was almost spiritual for me. In the messages I posted every day, it was essential to be myself. I only saw a few feedback, the most touching, that my partner communicated to me. One person thanked me for giving him the courage to donate a kidney to his sister. It's extremely strong, and it gives you crazy energy. I rowed 10 hours a day, so the only thing I had to do was think. It's a unique experience to be cut off from the cacophony of the modern world, social networks, emails, and even everyday life in a way. I wanted to talk about certain topics. Love, which for me is what makes people successful in life. Or fraternity, this sometimes utopian notion but which is essential.

Cyril Derreumaux at the finish.  (T. Gomes/DR)

Cyril Derreumaux at the finish. (T. Gomes/DR)

How was your daily life on the kayak?
The first two weeks, we have to get out of the California coast, so we have a little nose to the grindstone. Then, we quickly get into a real routine, with a discipline that is important to respect. I woke up with the sun, at 6am. Half an hour later, I was already outside, having prepared my food and my clothes for the day. From 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. I had to make water with my manual water-maker, because the first one was quickly broken. Then I left for 5 hours of rowing, until noon. I gave myself a little break to eat, take a nap, check my ground support, and I left from 1 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. Before nightfall, I took time for my hygiene, for the desalination of the body. Then a moment for me: to write my blog, make a short video, watch a short episode of Seinfeld, before going to bed quite early, around 8 or 9 o'clock. The sea anchor kept me from drifting too much.

Did you have any technical problems?
I was lucky on the first five days of the crossing, everything went very well. Afterwards, I started having some problems. But the idea is that if something breaks, you fix it. And in general, if everything lasted two weeks, it will last until the end. I had my water maker broken, my rudder lines starting to bother me, but I fixed one problem after another. And nothing that made me give up on my project. I had been preparing for 4 years, I had planned three or four backup options for each possible problem. I was even ready to face the difficult climatic conditions: if the kayak turns over, it is designed to be put back in the place, and the cabin is completely waterproof.

“Three months seems like an eternity. But on the scale of a lifetime, it's nothing! »

You thought you were going for about 70 days, in the end you took 91 days and 9 hours. How to manage this change of program in full crossing?
Halfway through the distance, I was already at 49 days. From there, it was rationing. Basically, I had 80 days of food on me, so I managed to have 15 more days. Every day, I spoke with my support on earth. We said to ourselves that we were really taking each day one by one. Without thinking of those who have passed or those who are yet to come. There, I really realize that it took 3 months. It seemed long at times, but we forget that when we're on the boat, in particular thanks to the respect of the routine.

In the meantime, what conclusions do you draw from this experience?
I am no longer the same man. Three months seems like an eternity, but on the scale of a lifetime, it's nothing! I savor the little pleasures, and I will continue to savor them even more. Just eating a slice of pizza is happiness. Hug people, even those you love. I am super sensitive. On the performance itself, it's a little weird to think that I'm one of the 4 or 5 people who have crossed an ocean in a kayak. My goal was to make the crossing with human power, with a pedalo for the legs and oars for the arms, and I managed to do it. It will even allow me to be in the Guinness Book (laughs)! With worries of previous years, victory is even sweeter. »



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