HONOLULU (KHON2) — In 2021, a kayaker trying to paddle solo from California to Hawaii was rescued six days after he set off to embark on a 70-day journey. Cyril Derreumaux had spent the last three years preparing for his biggest adventure, but it was cut short after he endured several issues.
This summer, Derreumaux is trying again. He knows what to do differently now.
“When it comes to learning about crossing an ocean as a solo person, you can read all the books you want, you can talk to all the people that have done it before, you can listen to all the podcast you want, you can even have done it before as a team, there is nothing that will prepare you for what’s actually coming other than living through it,” Derreumaux said. “That’s called experience, and it’s as raw as it gets, believe me.”
The 45-year-old father of two shared that there’s nothing that can prepare you to handle 14-foot waves in 35-knots of winds on a 23-foot kayak, other than going through it.
“On my first attempt, I had technical issues and limits that I have reached. Over the past year, I have trained a lot to improve on them, to give it my best shot today,” said Derreumaux.
Starting in June, Derreumaux will be using the same ocean kayak — named “Valentine” after his sister — to journey across 2,400 nautical miles of the Pacific Ocean.
“This amazing kayak is very seaworthy, built very strong and perfect for this kind of trans-oceanic expedition,” he said.
Following his first attempt and training runs, Derreumaux has made constant improvements all along the year. Those modifications include:
- Modification of the sea anchor system and its lines, to the rudder, to the daggerboard well
- Specific training in high wind situations off the coast of Santa Cruz, California
- Installation of a satellite communication system with an external antenna, enabling him to make phone calls and emails from inside the cabin
- Custom side panels were added to prevent side entry of water into the cockpit
- Addition of a manual bilge pump inside the cockpit, to second the electric one
“I have been preparing for this solo kayak adventure for four years now,” Derreumaux said. “Designing the boat, having it custom built, improving it for months and months, doing sea trials after sea trials, I now am approaching the starting line again. I am happy with my equipment and gear, I know how to use them and repair them, now I just have to put it all together and make it happen.”
As an ultra-endurance athlete, Derreumaux has a long list of expeditions under his belt.
In 2016, he successfully rowed across the Pacific Ocean from Monterey, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii, as part of a 4-man crew, in an expedition of just under 40 days. The journey earned them a Guinness World Record for the fastest crossing on that distance.
And Derreumaux is no stranger to crossing distances. After a quiet childhood in the north of France, he started to travel and live abroad. He’s lived in Spain, England, Italy, Argentina, Brazil and can speak five languages fluently.
At the age of 25, Derreumaux backpacked around the world for a full year. When he turned 32, Derreumaux started canoeing and kayaking when he moved to California, a place he’s called home for 14 years now. He said playing in the Bay Area led him to follow his heart over and over again.
“I like to push my own boundaries and live all the experiences that I dare to dream for myself,” Derreumaux said. “Each year, I took on a higher challenge, pushing my own limits and enjoying the process and the results along the way.”
To live a life of adventure, Derreumaux was inspired very early by South Afrikaner Mike Horn, and lately by Spaniard Antonio De La Rosa. For this adventure in a solo kayak, he was inspired by American Ed Gillet’s crossing of the mid-pacific in 1987, by British Peter Bray’s crossing of the North Atlantic in 2001, and Kiwi Scott Donaldson’s crossing of the Tasman Sea in 2018.
“My dream is to be able to keep having incredible adventures and share them through speaking engagements and group/personal coaching. Wouldn’t that be amazing to do that full time?! I think I have a natural talent for communicating my love for life to other, and inspire them to love it to, so I want to go after that,” Derreumaux said.
His goal after he reaches Hawaii? To spend some peaceful days on the island and then spend quality time with the people he loves.
“I will also make sure to rest mentally, and fully recover physically,” he said. “These adventures are hard, and you pay a toll physically. You lose weight, your muscles shrink, your tendons suffer, your body pushes itself to survival mode. It is very tough. Recovery is key if one wants to go for another go at it later in the future.”
Derreumaux adds that he will also go back to enjoying the simple things in life that we take for granted but are missing in a boat: a hot shower, dry sheets and pillow, cold ice cream, singing birds and lovely flowers.
“These expeditions have the great benefits of reminding you on how good life is, at every level!” he said.
Derreumaux is also no stranger to Hawaii — every time he goes, he loves it even more. He finished four times in the Molokai Hoe Canoe Race at Waikiki Beach, where he also finished his rowing adventure in 2016. It’s a place that now means a lot to Derreumaux, and he can’t wait to arrive there in a kayak.
“Life is an adventure, live it! Get inspired by my adventure, that’s great, but find and chase your own. I personally want to live life to the fullest. In other words, I want to live the best life that I can imagine,” he said. “For me, life is an adventure, so I imagine, plan, and go after what makes me vibrate. Wouldn’t want it any other way, and I hope to remind people that they should put a bit of that mindset in their own lives too.”
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A live map is planned to be updated every hour when Derreumaux leaves California in early June. Click here to follow his journey.
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