A Cuban windsurfer braved treacherous currents, sharks, and fickle weather to successfully cross the Straits of Florida last week.
Henry Vergara Negrin, 24, left Havana Tuesday morning with two companions. Nine and a half hours later, he reached Key West after navigating the 105-mile stretch of open water. He’s the first reported Cuban windsurfer to make the crossing in 20 years.
Negrin carried only a water bottle and a picture of his girlfriend, according to Surfer Today. “In those minutes, in those hours, you cannot get tired. You have to be very strong,” he said.
During the past few decades, thousands of Cubans have braved the dangerous waters to escape the Communist-ruled Caribbean island. Most don’t reach their goal, but Negrin is one of the lucky ones. Thanks to the “wet foot, dry foot” policy that states Cuban migrants who reach U.S. soil can stay in the country, Negrin won’t be sent back to Cuba.
The U.S. Coast Guard found one of Negrin’s companions Thursday adrift at sea. The next day, they spotted the final windsurfer near the Marquesas Keys, uninhabited islands about 20 miles west of Key West.