Paddleboarding women plot course from New York to Key West for charity
MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- They call themselves the Atlantic Super Girls, and they are paddleboarding from New York City to Key West to help out two charities.
Louanne Harris and Jules Gismondi left the Big Apple, where they live and work for the Manhattan Kayak Company, on Oct. 12 and arrived in Charleston a few days ago.
The next leg of their 1,500-mile trip begins on Sunday, the journey's 77th day.
Ater competing in stand-up paddleboarding races together, the two women decided to take on a bigger journey. It's just the two of them, some essential items, and their paddleboard.
"It's been really cool. Ups and downs. The physical part is really hard but obviously the mental is really rough as well. We've had some really crappy days but overall it's been amazing. A really, really awesome experience," Harris said.
Gismondi says there are only two other people who have paddled up and down the East Coast, so they will be in rare company when the trip is over. What's more, they're doing the trip unassisted.
"Just seeing the -- I mean, almost the entire coast of the United States. It's pretty amazing that we get to see it all, like literally it's been every inch we've paddled. It's not like we have a car following us down and we put in and drive down to the next surf shop or whatever. No, we've paddled every inch of it and that has been the craziest and the most rewarding thing," Gismondi said.
The two friends, one from Alaska and the other from Argentina, aren't just paddling for themselves. They're also looking out for others and raising money along the way, donating to a pair of organizations dear to their hearts.
"We're fundraising for Mission Blue and First Descents. Mission Blue is Dr. Silvia Earl's Oceanic Conservation Organization, and then First Descents does outreach and outdoor adventures and excursions with young adults and kids affected by cancer," Harris said.
"The two organizations that we've picked resonate with our concerns about the health not only of the planet but of the human race," Gismondi said.
They are halfway to their goal of $30,000, and they hope to have raised the full amount by the time they paddle into Key West. They have been using social media to reach out to people and have a GoFundMe account.
Harris and Gismondi says they have found a lot of support from the Lowcountry's paddleboarding community. After hearing about the trip,Ryan Kennedy couldn't help but join them and made his way to Wrightsville Beach to meet up with them.
Kennedy owns the Water Dog Paddle Company.
"I said, 'If they didn't mind a boy crashing the girl party that I'd love to join and hopefully provide some local knowledge and insight around these areas,'" Kennedy said. "It's been a better experience than I could have hoped for really."
The trio left Shem Creek Saturday afternoon and will make their way towards Key West on Sunday with hopes of making it there by the end of January.