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Cyril Derreumaux paddles from California to Hawaii

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Cyril Derreumaux upon arrival in Hilo, Hawaii. Photo – Tom Gomes

After 91 days at sea – Cyril Derreumaux became the first kayaker to successfully paddle from California to Hawaii solo, 100% human powered and unsupported. Cyril traveled in the Valentine, his custom kayak, relying on his own power and determination to cross the mighty Pacific. After departing Monterrey, California on June 21st Cyril was welcomed by a joyous reception of friends, family, and fans in Hilo, Hawaii on September 20, 2022. The 2,400 mile (4,444 km) journey was Cyril’s second attempt at the herculean odyssey.

Alone with his thoughts, yet tethered electronically to his distant support crew back on land, Cyril demonstrated a steely resolve to succeed by focusing on completing one day at a time throughout the epic journey.

“It was a magnificent adventure, clearly also a spiritual journey. Before leaving I couldn’t really explain why I wanted to take on this challenge, but I finally found all the answers to my questions on the water,” said Cyril upon arriving in Hawaii.

The first seven days or so were some of the most challenging as Cyril labored to escape the tidal currents pushing him back towards the California coast. Cyril battled sea sickness and sleep deprivation to continue his forward momentum – often paddling for more than nine hours a day.

He experienced the ocean and its full range of emotions. At times serene and mystical, such as the time a bird appeared, seemingly materializing out of mid-air, to check in and offer solace after a week of bad weather. “Suddenly everything was perfect and the first thing I noticed was the long, slow, gently ocean swell,” Cyril told me. “The air was moist, humid, and warm. There was not much wind and no sound,” he said. “I turned around to see a beautiful pastel sunrise. Then a bird came to see me in the middle of the ocean. It was very special. It was just a perfect moment.”

Other times Cyril encountered Mother Nature’s violent throes and was forced to retreat inside Valentine’s sealed cabin for days. Hunkered down, unable to paddle. He was left with no option other than to succumb to the will of the Pacific as the wind and waves relentlessly pounded his kayak.

“When you have the wind coming from one direction. And the current from a different direction. And the ocean swell from another…that is pretty gnarly,” exclaimed Cyril. “I learned to really trust my boat, and that just comes with time on the water,” Cyril told me. “It is self-righting and built by the best kayak builders in the world.”

Along the way, Cyril overcame leaks and equipment failures – his primary electric powered water maker broke down on day 46. Cyril was also compelled to ration his food supply when he and his support crew determined mid crossing that he was off schedule. Cyril’s journey ultimately lasted 21 days longer than his planned estimate and forced him to make landfall in Hilo rather than his original destination of Honolulu.

Cyril was tethered to the Valentine at all times as a safety measure, even when the ocean was perfectly flat. As expected, he adapted his paddling stroke to the conditions of the ocean throughout his journey, but to his surprise, he only used one of the three different paddles he brought with him.

Two men in a small fishing boat off Hawaii were Cyril’s first in person encounter with people near the end of his trip after having crossed the expansive section of open water between California and Hawaii. “Ahhh! They ruined it!” Cyril told me with a laugh. “I was hoping to see my girlfriend first!”

About Cyril Derreumaux

Cyril is a dual French – United States citizen, born in Lille, France in 1976 and the proud father of two young boys – Oliver (16) and Simon (13). Conversant in six languages, Cyril has held a passion for adventure for decades and is an accomplished paddler in multiple paddle craft. He hopes to write a book about his solo paddle from California to Hawaii and is currently working on a documentary about his excursion.

Cyril is available for interviews and speaking engagements. Booking arrangements may be made by contacting Ashley Redmond.

Photos: Tom Gomes

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