In a quest to mark his 60th birthday in an exceptional manner, a Nebraska resident named Duane Hansen from Syracuse set his sights on a remarkable goal. Determined to surpass the existing Guinness World Record for the longest distance traveled in a pumpkin boat, Hansen aimed to paddle his way into the annals of history.
The previous record had been established by Rick Swenson of Minnesota, who, in 2016, successfully navigated a pumpkin boat for an impressive 25.6 miles, embarking on a memorable journey from Minnesota all the way to North Dakota.
Duane needed a pumpkin. A BIG pumpkin
Duane became acquainted with the world record during his attendance at a Giant Pumpkin Growing seminar in 2017.
Having a passion for cultivating oversized pumpkins, gourds, and various other vegetables as a hobby, he found joy in the process. In fact, he achieved remarkable success by nurturing pumpkins that reached impressive weights ranging from 400 to 500 pounds.
Duane wanted to grow one even bigger.
At the seminar, Duane crossed paths with a woman experienced in sailing pumpkin boats, and everything changed.
Ever since that encounter, Duane has been consumed by a single-minded obsession: shattering the existing record. Over the course of five years, he dedicated himself to cultivating the ideal pumpkin that could support his weight as he paddled it across the water.
He finally did it.
After carefully nurturing a pumpkin that boasted an impressive circumference of approximately 146 inches, Duane triumphantly christened his 800-pound creation as the S.S. Berta.
On August 27, 2022, Duane embarked on his remarkable journey by transporting the S.S. Berta to Bellevue Marina in Bellevue, Nebraska, utilizing a trailer.
With a backdrop of encouragement from his loved ones, at 7:30 in the morning, Duane fearlessly boarded his pumpkin boat, ready to tackle the waterways while his family and friends cheered him on from the safety of the shore.
It was gonna be a long day.
With the intention of documenting and validating his extraordinary endeavor, Duane made a stop at the Mayor’s Office in Bellevue to secure official witnesses for his remarkable adventure.
In order to have his achievements officially documented in the Guinness Book of World Records, he had to ensure the presence of official witnesses.
The book’s guidelines stipulated that a minimum of two individuals who were not part of his family must be present to witness the event, capturing it through photographs and videos.
Duane received assistance from two witnesses provided by the Mayor’s Office to ensure his record-breaking attempt was properly documented.
They were very surprised though.
The witnesses initially believed that Duane’s intention was to float the 800-lb pumpkin for a distance of 30 miles. However, they were taken aback when they discovered that Duane’s plan involved riding inside the enormous pumpkin.
This just got even more exciting.
However, for Duane, the boat ride was an incredibly nerve-wracking experience.
Apparently, “it’s like riding in a cork.”
“Once you’re on the river, that damn thing was so tippy, it was unbelievable,” Duane shared. “It was like riding in a cork. You just could tip over at any second. You’re using your balance the whole time. I’ve never paid so much attention to any one thing in my entire life.”
Duane’s ambition extended beyond simply breaking an existing record; he was also aiming to set a new personal record.
Surpassing the existing record required him to reach a distance of 25.7 miles, but Duane had his sights set higher.
He planned to paddle all the way from Bellevue Marina to Riverview Marina in Nebraska City, covering a total distance of 38 miles for the entire journey.
Did he do it?
The witnesses from the Mayor’s Office joyfully announced at 2:52 pm that Duane had successfully surpassed the previous record. However, Duane wasn’t satisfied yet. Determined to push his limits further, he decided to continue paddling for an additional distance of over 12 miles to complete his race.
Just after 6:30 pm, Duane successfully completed his remarkable 38-mile journey. In an impressive span of eleven hours, Duane Hansen secured his place as the official record-holder for the “Longest journey by pumpkin boat (paddling).”
The Guinness Book of World Records has duly recognized and documented this incredible achievement.
See Duane’s glory post documenting his journey just below!
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