MIDTOWN — Julieta Gismondi became the first stand-up paddleboarder to sail around Long Island when she landed safely back in Manhattan Tuesday night, Gismondi and her collegues at the Manhattan Kayak Company told DNAinfo.
The 30-year-old Argentina native started her journey on May 9 from Pier 84 on the Hudson River, working her way around the southern tip of Manhattan and then up into the Long Island Sound.
“I still can’t believe I actually did it,” said Gismondi, who teaches boarding at the Kayak Company which is based on the pier at West 44th Street.
“Every single day I would think this is when I call it quits.”
Gismondi, who self-financed the journey, primarily camped out on beaches during the 300-mile trek. She survived on bags full of freeze-dried food and snacks.
She would paddle upwards of 30 miles a day, timing her journey to go with the tides.
“I was alone,” she said. “I had nothing to do during the day but paddle.”
Things got dicey a couple times, she said. Once, when she was about halfway through the trip, conditions turned foggy and windy.
“I was freaking out,” Gismondi said. “A couple times I told my family, ‘I’ll let you guys know if I need you to pick me up.'”
Her colleagues at the Kayak Company described Gismondi as a humble person with an adventurous spirit.
“I just think it’s one of those rights of passage,” said Kayak Company co-founder Eric Stiller. “Someone has got to be the pioneer and she is the one.”
The paddleboarder started intensive training last year before completing a 100-mile race in California in October, Stiller said.
She then spent the winter back in Argentina where she paddled in Patagonia.
Stiller encouraged Gismondi, who is not married and does not have children, to take the trip when she returned to the city this spring.
“I think it just was her time,” Stiller said. “She was in shape for it.”
Gismondi has been with the kayak company for 10 years, and though she works more in an administrative position now, she still teaches kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.
When she arrived back at Pier 84 at about 9 p.m. Tuesday there were about 20 coworkers, friends and clients barbecuing on the pier and cheering her on.
“It was amazing,” Gismondi said. “I wasn’t expecting anyone to be there.”