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Old 02-20-2014, 10:39 PM
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Default Escaping Cuba On A Windsurfing Board




Cuban windsurfer missing after attempting to cross Florida Straits
BY MICHAEL HASKINS
KEY WEST, Florida Thu Feb 20, 2014 6:58pm EST

(Reuters) - Three Cuban migrants attempted to windsurf across the Florida Straits to reach the United States on Tuesday, but only one is known to have reached dry land.

A second was rescued at sea by a fisherman Thursday morning. The U.S. Coast Guard continued late Thursday to search for the third migrant.

Henry Vergara Negrin, 24, said he left Jibacoa, Cuba, near Havana at 9 a.m. Tuesday with two companions on separate boards, according to a report by the Key West, Florida, police.

Jibacoa is a fishing village in the Mayabeque province of Cuba about 97 miles south of Key West.

Negrin came ashore at Key West's luxury Reach Resort nine and a half hours later. Hotel guests and the hotel's beach bartender helped him to a lounge chair where the staff took care of him, hotel spokeswoman Lisa Cole told Reuters.

"They made sure he was comfortable, got him some towels, water. They said he looked exhausted," Cole said.

Negrin is the first reported Cuban windsurfer to make the treacherous crossing in two decades. A couple of windsurfer cases were documented during a mass exodus of Cubans in 1994 known as the "rafter crisis."

Many Cuban have died trying to cross the Straits as they flee their communist-ruled homeland."

Continued at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/...A1J2E320140220

and


"Migrant windsurfs to U.S. from Cuba
BY ADAM LINHARDT Citizen Staff
alinhardt@keysnews.com
A Cuban migrant windsurfed from Cuba to Key West Tuesday, but two other windsurfers he was with were apparently lost in the Gulf Stream about 60 miles south of the Florida Keys, according to Key West police and the Coast Guard.

Henry Hugo Vergara Negrin, 24, came ashore at The Reach Resort, 1435 Simonton St., at 6:35 p.m. and told police he and the others left Jibacoa, Cuba, at 9 a.m. Tuesday bound for the U.S. on windsurfing boards.

Jibacoa is a fishing village in the Mayabeque Province of Cuba on the island nation's northwest coastline.

Coast Guard Cutter Key Biscayne from Key West and the Miami-based Bernard C. Webber Cutter, as well as a Coast Guard twin-engine HC-144 Ocean Sentry search plane, also from Miami, began searching for the other two windsurfers about 7 p.m. Tuesday, said Sector Key West spokesman Ensign Peter Bermont.

There are also fast response boats from Sector Key West patrolling the Keys shoreline in case the other two made it to shore elsewhere, Bermont said.

Negrin told police the other two men were known to him as Amando and Dwarta, but he reportedly did not know or did not provide their last names.

"We're saturating the search area," Bermont said. "He said he lost sight of them approximately 60 nautical miles south of Key West. Part of our search pattern includes following the Gulf Stream drift pattern as well as following the route of the one we know made it ashore."

Negrin was treated briefly Tuesday night at Lower Keys Medical Center after his 9 1/2-hour journey for blisters on his hands before being turned over to U.S. Custom and Border Patrol agents, who processed him at the CBP station in Marathon and then released on his own recognizance, said spokeswoman Elee Erice.

Negrin received aid from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Miami after he was released from the CBP station in Marathon, said Francisco Figueroa of the Church World Service resettlement agency."

More at: http://keysnews.com/node/53658


He may have worked at Breezes Jibacoa as they have windsurfing there. I recall another fellow who windsurfed to the USA from Cuba worked at a windsurfing concession in Cuba. You would need considerable windsurfing skill to make it to Key West in the conditions the Straits of Florida can throw out. It looks like the wind may have been easterly for some of the time in the low 20's making the crossing a beam reach. This is based on NWS records near Key West and Weatherunderground archive records for Havana and Varadero, Cuba. Jibacoa falls between these two places. There were points when the wind swung to the northeast likely creating short wavelength steep waves impeding progress.



Breezes Jibacoa, a possible point of departure from Cuba.


The Reach Resort, Key West

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Last edited by RickI; 02-21-2014 at 03:02 PM.
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:14 AM
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Stories of other windsurfers who made the crossing in the 1990's.

"3 Cubans Windsurf To Freedom
May 01, 1994|By Knight-Ridder/Tribune.

MIAMI — Three Cuban refugees who escaped the island on sailboards glided for 12 hours as sharks circled them-then, exhausted, they stretched out and took naps. Three hours later, at 3 a.m. Wednesday, they heard the rumble of a boat and sent up a flare. It was a group of American fishermen on their way back from a tournament in Cozumel.

"I was thinking, `Please, let a boat come by and pick us up. Enough with the heroism,"' said Alexander Morales, 21, a professional windsurfer. "And the boat did come." Hitching a ride with the fishermen, Morales, Carlos Lopez Gonzalez, 26, and Roberto Gonzalez Ortiz, 22, arrived in Key West Wednesday morning.

The men first concocted their plan more than two months ago. They rigged their sailboards for the trip across the Florida Straits with special seats, similar to swings, and sturdy sails. And they trained every day, at least four hours a day, often longer. But they lost a powerful ally the moment they left the coast of Santa Fe, their hometown, at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. The wind died, leaving them idle and impatient for long stretches. The sharks edged in closer. At night, the predators never left them alone.

"It's very risky, very tiring," said Morales, who competed on Cuba's windsurfing team. "You are nothing compared to the sea. So insignificant." Cuba's border guards never suspected a thing. Windsurfers sail along the Santa Fe coast all the time. "We had done this all our lives, so the border guards couldn't say anything to us," Morales said. Just to be safe, he and the others hugged Cuba's coastline as they sailed toward Mariel. They each carried a liter of water. Twenty miles offshore, they changed course and headed to Key West. They didn't feel safe from Cuban authorities until nightfall.

Their conditioning served them well: During 12 hours of non-stop windsurfing, their feet and hands throbbed, but they didn't think about the pain. Only at midnight, after they nearly collapsed from fatigue, did they let down the sails to rest. "I had trained my whole life for this," Morales said. The men aren't alone. Three other Cubans have windsurfed their way to South Florida this year, according to the Church World Service resettlement agency.

On Friday, Morales was reunited with his father, Alexander Morales. Father and son hadn't seen each other since 1979. Morales' mother and half his family are still in Cuba. "That's a small little board, 3 inches of width. You have nothing to protect yourself with," Morales' father said. "It's unbelievable.""
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1...ng-sails-cuban


and


"Boardsailing: Freedom Jiber

Outside magazine, May 1994

How long had he planned the daring crossing, reporters wanted to know last February. Eugenio Maderal Roman, who'd just arrived in Marathon, Florida, after a nine-hour, 110-mile boardsailing odyssey from Cuba, hadn't planned it at all. "If I'd thought about it twice, I wouldn't have done it," said Roman, a 21-year-old boardsailing instructor at the Club Tropical hotel in Cuba's Varadero Beach resort area. Actually, Roman knew it was possible because a boyhood friend had made a similar journey in 1990, but he never seriously considered such an insane stunt. "I went surfing, to catch some air," said Roman, who launched from his girlfriend's house on Varadero Beach at 1 P.M. on February 8 and headed for his aunt's place a few miles east of there. But the winds were unfavorable for a family visit, so Roman sailed out to sea instead--and he kept sailing. Navigating first by the sun and later by the North Star, he rode the steady eight- to 15-knot easterlies until he was five miles off Marathon. When the winds died, he stood on his board and rowed with his mast until he rolled up, exhausted, on the beach. Roman, who hopes to be granted political asylum in the United States, said, "Something was calling me.""
http://www.outsideonline.com/adventu...dom-Jiber.html

and


"April 23, 1990 A New Dawn
Lester Moreno Perez fled Cuba by boardsailing toward Florida under cover of darkness
by Sam Moses

In the annals of great escapes, the flight by 17-year-old Lester Moreno Perez from Cuba to the U.S. surely must rank as one of the most imaginative. At 8:30 on the night of Thursday, March 1, Lester crept along the beach in Varadero, a resort town on the north coast of Cuba, and launched his sailboard into the shark-haunted waters of the Straits of Florida. Guided first by the stars and then by the hazy glow from concentrations of electric lights in towns beyond the horizon, Lester sailed with 20-knot winds, heading for the Florida Keys, 90 miles away.

Two hours past daybreak on Friday, Lester was sighted by the Korean crew of the Tina D, a Bahamian-registered freighter. The boom on his craft was broken, and he was just barely making headway, 30 miles south of Key West. The astonished crew pulled Lester aboard, fed him spicy chicken and white rice, and then radioed the U.S. Coast Guard, which sent the patrol boat Fitkinak to take him into custody. After five days in the Krome Detention Center in Miami while paperwork was being processed, he was issued a visa by U.S. immigration officials and released into the welcoming arms of his relatives.

Except for his rich imagination and broad streak of courage, Lester could be any 17-year-old who decides to leave home, He was raised in the shoreside town of Varadero, the second-oldest of five children in his family. "As soon as I started thinking a little bit—when I was seven or eight years old—I wanted to come to America," he says. Independent thinking ran in the family; his grandfather, Urbino, had been imprisoned for attending a counterrevolutionary meeting early in Fidel Castro's regime and spent nearly five years in jail. Furthermore, Lester's sister Leslie, who had been on the national swim team and had traveled to several foreign countries, had told intriguing tales of life outside Cuba. Lester also did not like the idea of serving three years in the Cuban army and then facing the possibility of having his career chosen for him by the Communist Party. There was also trouble at home; he and his stepfather, Roberto, were at odds, mostly over politics. So Lester decided he wanted to go to America, not Angola.

When he was 10 years old, Lester taught himself to windsurf by hanging around the European and Canadian tourists who rented boards on the beach at Varadero. "If you made friends with them, they would sometimes let you use their equipment," he says. As he grew older and got better at the sport, he found he liked the isolation and freedom of the sea. "Sometimes I would sail for eight hours without stopping, and go very far out," he says. His windsurfing to freedom seemed destined."
Continued at http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...6974/index.htm



"Balseros Ballenas"
http://juanminero.blogspot.com/2008_06_01_archive.html


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Last edited by RickI; 02-22-2014 at 06:20 AM.
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Old 02-21-2014, 08:31 PM
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They are focusing the search for the third windsurfer Armando, 28, in the Islamorada area.

"Following Negrin's arrival, the Coast Guard launched its search for the two others. Thursday, a boater found a man Negrin identified as Dwarta, 23, floating on a windsurfing board off Big Pine Key. Dwarta was suffering from exposure when picked up.

His location has the Coast Guard now focusing on Islamorada as the likely location for the third man based on tides and currents. Negrin identified that man as Amando, 28.

"If he's still on that board, then his chance of surviving increases significantly," said Coast Guard Ensign Peter Bermont.

He said that since Tuesday, the overall search with boats and planes had 20 specific searches covering more than 8,000 nautical miles."
http://www.keysnet.com/2014/02/21/49...r-focuses.html
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Old 02-22-2014, 09:15 AM
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I just saw an unconfirmed report and video of what was described as the rescue boat docking on Facebook that the third windsurfer, Amando, was found by the USCG off the Key West area yesterday at 5:30 pm. He was reportedly taken to the Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West for treatment. If this is true, I hope he makes a full, rapid recovery.


From: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v...type=2&theater


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Old 02-22-2014, 08:03 PM
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It is confirmed, the third windsurfer was recovered by the USCG on Friday.

"Cuban lost while windsurfing to Fla. found adrift

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
KEY WEST, Fla. -- The third and last Cuban migrant who disappeared while trying to windsurf across the Florida Straits has been found adrift.

Coast Guard officials found the man late Friday afternoon. He was barely able to speak. Coast Guardsman Petty Officer Third Class Alex Davis tells The Key West Citizen (http://bit.ly/1grZjWC ) the man would probably not have made it one more day. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is investigating and will determine whether the men will be taken back to Cuba.

The three migrants left Jibacoa, Cuba, on Tuesday. One made it to Key West more than nine hours later and told authorities that he lost sight of the others about 60 miles south of Key West. A second was found by a boater Thursday.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/02/2...#storylink=cpy "
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Old 02-22-2014, 09:57 PM
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The three windsurfers before attempting to cross the Straits of Florida

The article which included this photo indicated they took a year preparing for the journey, doing resistance exercises and strength training in addition to spending several hours exercising without water to help their bodies to adapt.


Henry Vergara Negrin is interviewed about his experience (in Spanish)




http://www.cubaenmiami.com/balseros-...a-de-windsurf/
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