Saturday morning was a significant day for Caroline Raphael, a Lebanese stand-up paddleboarder, as she attempted to beat the Guinness World Record for the one-day longest distance on a 4.2-meter stand-up paddleboard (SUP).
Raphael began her journey in the wee hours of the morning around 3 a.m. She planned on paddleboarding along the Lebanese coast from Arida, in the northern region of Akkar, to Naqoura in the South Governatorate to cover a total distance of about 180 kilometers–not an easy feat.
This distance was to be covered over a 24-hour period, which would have put Raphael at a speed of approximately 7.5 kmph without any stops. As she made her way down the coast, she documented her journey through her Facebook page in live videos and by posting updates.
Raphael’s attempt was the first in its kind for her, and she told The Daily Star in an interview back in February that she was “confident with [her] strength.”
However, Raphael wasn’t alone in preparation for this brave attempt. The current world record holder, American sportswoman Seychelle Hattingh, was coaching Raphael through an app. Hattingh’s record stands at 177 km.
Yet, the conditions in which Hattingh made her journey were different than those of Raphael: Hattingh made her journey on flat water, whereas Raphael embarked on the more challenging open waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
While Raphael did not accomplish beating the current world record this time, she definitely put up a good fight and covered a distance of 99.91 km by 8 p.m., 18 hours after she had embarked on her mission. Her last stop ended in Manara, Ras Beirut, due to weather conditions and minimizing the risk of physical injury. Raphael remained gracious nonetheless.
“Thank you every single one for your support and cheers over social media, thanks for all who bonded with me along the way, thanks to my lovely family for escorting me and giving me positive vibes,” Raphael said in her final Facebook post for the day.
Despite her not beating the world record, Raphael has definitely made Lebanon proud with her perseverance and ambition.
It’s not easy to go a distance of almost 97 km on a SUP, let alone with choppy waters, wind, and mild rain, and we admire her bravery and determination. She will still be viewed as a champion in our eyes, and surely in the eyes of many other Lebanese.