Stand Up Most Miles Paddled in 24 hours World Record


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Justin DeBree, 27, a territory manager for DeWALT Power Tools, began his 400-mile journey from Key Biscayne to St. Mary’s, Ga., on a stand-up paddle board last Thursday. He hopes to conclude the journey on July 4.

He estimates he has spent 75 hours on the water — averaging about 15 a day — since beginning and has experienced the best and worst nature has to offer. The longest distance he has covered in one day has been about 38 miles.

“The weather’s been so unpredictable,” said DeBree, who is making the journey without support on the water. He is propelling himself and his 14-foot epoxy board with a 6-foot, 6-inch single-bladed paddle in a solitary journey that is bonding a young man with the sea.

“I’ll be in the zone, and out of nowhere a massive thunder and lightning storm comes through with hail and (waterspouts),” he said. “That’s definitely been the number one problem and challenge I’ve faced.”

The storms have caused DeBree to seek shelter on land from distances as far as a mile offshore and in whatever structures are available from dune crossovers to pavilions to the support RV being driven on land by friend Justin Raines. DeBree also sleeps in the RV at night.

But when he has been on the water, anywhere from 50 yards to three miles offshore, with just his feet on the board and a three-gallon pack on his back, he’s basically at the mercy of the ocean.

“As corny as it sounds I’m pretty much one with the sea,” he said. “I have no fear being out there. I’m basically like a fish. I feel like I can talk to them.”

He’s certainly had the opportunity.

“I’ve seen so much wildlife,” said DeBree who came ashore at Coconut’s in Cocoa Beach on Wednesday and planned to spend the night before resuming his trip.

“It’s been completely entertaining. I’ve seen tiger sharks. I’ve seen tons of tarpon and cobia, I actually had four schools of cobia follow me. I can’t tell you how many turtles I’ve seen. It’s been unreal.”

The beneficiary of DeBree’s journey is the World Skin Cancer Foundation’s new Beach Signage Sun Safety program, an initiative to introduce informational signs to beaches and parks throughout the United States.

More than one million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year and more than 10,000 people die from skin cancer annually, the foundation said.

DeBree, a Long Island native and veteran surfer, is using his work vacation time and donating his salary from DeWALT for each day of his journey. So when his trip is complete, DeBree will return to the daily grind with memories gleaned from his solitary, possibly life-changing journey, fresh in his mind.

“Sometimes when you go do challenges like this, it makes me think everybody can make a difference, even my little self,” he said. “I think it’s going to make me do other things to help the world, as lame as it may sound. It just makes me want to do more.”

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