- 23 February 2014 | Windsurfing
A Cuban windsurfer has successfully crossed the Straits of Florida, between Cuba and the United States of America.
Henry Vergara Negrin, 24, left Jibacoa, near Havana, and reached Key West, Florida, in nine and half hours. The total distance is of 105 miles (170 kilometers).
The Cuban sailor was only carrying a water bottle and a picture of his girlfriend. "In those minutes, in those hours, you cannot get tired. You have to be very strong," Negrin told.
"I felt like I was in heaven. I felt good, that I accomplished what I wanted. It's a dream, a dream come true."
Negrin is the first reported Cuban windsurfer to make the crossing in two decades. Half a dozen windsurfer attempts were documented during the 1990s. Now, Henry wants to be a professional windsurfer.
Later, a second Cuban windsurfer was rescued by the US Coast Guard, after sailing for four days in shark-infested waters. The sailor was spotted near the Marquesas Keys, an uninhabited island group about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Key West.
"He was unable to move himself, and the officers had to use his surfboard to carry him," explains Peter Bermont, the US Coast Guard spokesman. A third windsurfer was found adrift and rescued.
The Straits of Florida are known for its tricky currents and gusty winds, but that doesn't stop thousands of Cubans from trying to escape the communist-ruled regime, in the last decades.
In March, 1990, Lester Moreno Perez tried to cross the Strait of Florida when he was only 17. He was rescued by a freighter 30 miles from Key West.
The "Wet Foot, Dry Foot" policy says that a Cuban caught on the waters between the USA and the Caribbean nation will be sent home. One who makes it to shore gets a chance to remain in the United States.