His friends thought it was a crazy idea, but Thomas Oschwald did not let himself be put off, even when the first two attempts failed. The third time he succeeded. He travelled by water from Geneva to Basel, using only two means of transport: his SUP and his feet combined with a trailer by reacha. We asked him to share his experiences with us.
There are many ways to get from Geneva to Basel: By car or train the journey takes just under 3 hours, by plane the distance would be less than an hour. Using a little muscle power, you could reach your destination by bike in 15 hours or on foot in 50 hours.
But there is also a waterway that runs from Geneva to Basel. And this is exactly what the stand-up paddler Thomas Oschwald had chosen for his ambitious "project". The goal: a trip from Geneva to Basel - alone on rivers, canals, lakes and other waterways only with the SUP and a trailer to be able to transport the stand-up paddle always to the nearest shore.
First try, second try, third try
The idea first came to the mind of enthusiastic stand-up paddler Thomas Oschwald when he was thirty years old. Two years later he set off, but an intestinal infection crossed his plans during the first attempt. Two months later, run number two followed: Oschwald paddled all the way to France, but encountered impassable obstacles there: ship locks, canal tunnels and power stations seemed to make the dream of a crossing via SUP finally burst. Or is it?
The fact that the adventurer was finally able to fulfill his dream 10 years later, he also owes to his reacha hand trailer because that was one of the biggest hurdles:
Flexible equipment is crucial
When you talk to Thomas Oschwald about his unusual journey on the water, you will meet a person who quite deliberately doesn't seek adventure in remote places, but rather in the midst of civilization - ideally on his doorstep. The uncertainty about a route that has never been travelled in this way did not worry him, but - and this is important to him - he wants to be equipped in such a way that he can react flexibly to all possible eventualities:
Up and down with the reacha
For example, Thomas Oschwald had a few stages on his way to Basel, where hydroelectric power stations or ship locks were repeatedly in the way at intervals of a few kilometres, making it impossible for him to continue his journey with the SUP. Then and there he paddled to the shore and loaded his inflated SUP onto his raecha trailer, which he sometimes folded up and sometimes carried with him in one piece with his stand-up paddle:
Pull or push? The main thing is to keep moving!
On some days, Oschwald was even forced to walk for several hours along the trail. For water-poor rivers, hurricane-like headwinds or impassable channel tunnels drove the stand-up paddle enthusiast ashore time and again. Oschwald was of course particularly grateful to his reacha trailer, but not only because it can easily transport up to 60 kg (a maximum of 35 kg can be transported on a bicycle trailer), but also because he could pull and push it:
Thomas Oschwald had to bypass some of the channel tunnels on roads and paths
Handy and multifunctional
Only from the mouth of the Rhine did he continue exclusively on the water. From there to a little bit further than Basel, Oschwald paddled an enormous distance with his SUP: over 1000 kilometers he defied the capricious currents of the Rhine. His reacha trailer was usually lying disassembled on the board. But on stormy days with bad weather or strong currents, the reacha was used again - just not as a trailer:
Oschwald had to cover the last few kilometres to the source of the Rhine on foot and used his reacha again according to its actual purpose: as a hand trailer.
Finally at the destination - without a single bottle of water
Oschwald finally reached his destination after two and a half months and almost 3000 kilometers. On his journey he "sailed" through six countries with his SUP and covered a distance of more than 2000 km - without using a single plastic water bottle. For this was another goal of his stand-up paddling tour: Oschwald deliberately did not use bottled water, because he wanted to find out for himself "how difficult the path to clean drinking water can be", or not.
According to him, this was not always easy, but finally, thanks to his follower, he was quite flexible in his search for suitable water points:
The fulfilment of a 10-year-old dream
We at reacha were excited and thrilled when we first heard about the unusual journey of Thomas Oschwald. The fact that one of our reacha athletes had travelled such a remarkable distance fills us with pride and of course also with gratitude. We are happy that we were able to help Thomas to fulfill his dream. It won't be his last dream or his last tour, as he said to us himself:
Finally, we wish Thomas for the future that he will be able to overcome all the obstacles that arise on his travels - we are more than happy to provide our reacha hand or bike trailers.
You can find out more about STAND UP FOR SAFE WATER and other projects of Thomas Oschwald at www.teachandtravel.ch.