Kurs Sudwest | In conversation with Lukas Borchers


Brought to you by WSO, the film "KURS SÜDWEST" captures the unrefined, rugged charm of Europe's most extreme coastline. Taking a peek into Lukas Borchers' world, it exposes his deep yearning for adventure and a fulfilling life. Don't miss the German premiere, commencing on August 29th for a month, followed by its online release. Curious to learn more, we sat down for a chat with Lukas.

"Adventure begins when things go sideways"


Tell us about your project, how did the idea come about?

I wanted to take a larger trip abroad during my time as a student. Since I had already done a kayak trip on the Danube a few years earlier, I had the idea to repeat it on a larger scale. 

Since the time frame was fixed and I would be traveling in Autumn, it was clear to me that I would be traveling in Southern Europe. Somehow I got the idea to paddle from Geneva over the Rhone and the Mediterranean Sea to Gibraltar. I could not foresee that everything would turn out differently and that I would paddle to the Atlantic Ocean instead of the Mediterranean Sea. In the end, I crossed France via the Rhone and the Louire once from east to west, then paddled for a while on the Atlantic coast and finally finished the trip on a historic sailing ship. In the most adventurous conditions, we sailed across the Bay of Biscay in decent storms in the fall.


You must have packed pretty light for your adventure, what were your essential items?

In fact, my equipment wasn't super light at all. In total, the fully loaded boat weighed about 80kg. But that also included water and food. But that was mainly because I wanted to make a film about my trip and had some camera equipment with me. 

The most important piece of equipment was probably my boat. In order to be able to travel by train and get the boat back home, I decided to take a foldable kayak. Specifically, I was traveling in the Nortik Argo. Besides that, I spent every night in my tent during the kayak tour, so I put a lot of emphasis on my camping gear, i.e. tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag and stove.


What was the hardest section of your journey?

The most exhausting part was definitely the work at the many dams and power plants. The dams were rarely equipped with ramps and it was always very exhausting to carry the boat over the steep banks and to get to the other side of the dam. With two people, this probably wouldn't have been so difficult, but since I was traveling alone, it took up a lot of time and energy every day.


What was your ‘go to’ snack whilst you were on the water?

I probably ate way too many cookies along the way. In my life jacket, I actually always had a couple of cookies and muesli bars. Apart from that, I always prepared something on my camping stove in the evenings ashore.

Did you have the opportunity to interact with the local culture or meet interesting people during your trip?

Since I don't speak French, it wasn't easy to get in touch with the local people, since you don't get very far in France with English. But despite this, I met super nice people on my trip. At the Atlantic Ocean I had to camp on a beach for almost a whole week, because the surf was just too heavy for me. There I met a super nice family who lived nearby and came to the beach every day. Since I had run out of supplies due to the long stopover at some point, they brought me water regularly and also charged my power banks.


How was the weather during your trip? Did it affect your plans in any way?

When I left it was still really summery and very warm during the day. With time, however, the weather became worse and it rained more often and there was also a lot of wind. On the Loire, the wind was just annoying and slowed down my progress a bit. But on the Atlantic, the wind made sure that I often had very big waves and completely stopped me from paddling. I have to say that I was an absolute beginner in sea kayaking and only felt confident to go on the water in good conditions. 


Were there any memorable or funny moments that happened during the trip?

In any case, our first day at sea left a lasting impression on me. We set sail in the evening, when the sea was still relatively calm. But when I came on deck the next morning, it looked completely different. We got into a decent storm and the wind was blowing at about 80 km/h and the waves were over 5 meters high. The sight of the boiling sea was really tremendous, it was hard to move on board and of course I got seasick. This combination of awe, happiness to be able to experience something like that and complete physical exhaustion is something I will certainly never forget in my life.


What advice would you give to someone looking to have an adventure like this?

If there's one thing I've learned on this trip, it's that it's often best to just do it and not plan everything down to the last detail. How many people dream of things they want to do someday, but then never get around to doing them. If you want to experience an adventure, I advise you to just go out and start somehow. Everything else will then come together.

To learn more about the film and it's online release, click here.

To shop kayaking gear, click here.

Published on 24th August 2023 in Kayaking

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