Turks and Caicos

Kite boarders arrive in Turks and Caicos after 4,000-mile trek across the Atlantic Ocean

 
 
Six athletes, including an American, successfully kite boarded more than 4,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean.
Six athletes, including an American, successfully kite boarded more than 4,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean.
Courtesy of HTC Atlantic Kite Challenge

jcharles@MiamiHerald.com

Six kite boarders ended a 27-day, 4,000-mile-plus crossing of the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday, touching ground in the Turks and Caicos just before 6 p.m.

For more than three weeks, the kite boarders rode in teams across the ocean, gliding around schools of flying fish, leaping past whales and sharks and staving off lightening and storms to make the dangerous trek from Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. They left on Nov. 20.

The successful feat is said to be the first-ever, non-stop kite board crossing of the Atlantic.

Their historic journey was tracked on social media by fans including tourists and Gov. Peter Beckingham of the Turks and Caicos. He called the marathon crossing “awe inspiring.”

“I toast the team for its commitment, effort and for choosing the Turks and Caicos as its ultimate destination,” Beckingham said.

As they arrived under the cover of darkness on the beach, they were greeted with local music and cheers at the Blue Haven Resort and Marina. The hotel set up a live stream of the arrival, which also included local kite boarders who finished the final few miles alongside the record-setting athletes.

“This is a landmark of human achievement,” said Caroline van Scheltinga of Blue Haven Resort and Marina. “The successful ocean crossing demonstrates the power of human passion, and ingenuity, working as a team in harmony with nature.”

The HTC Atlantic Kite Challenge was the brainchild of Netherlands-based Filippo van Hellenberg Hubar, founder of the Enable Passion Foundation. Filippo is one of the six kite boarders who participated in the crossing.

The only American in the group — Eric Pequeno, 30, of West Bloomfield, Mich. — won his slot through a Facebook competition.

The kite boarders were accompanied by a catamaran with five crew members, including Dutch sailing professional Erik van Vuuren as team captain. Every kiter took two two-hour shifts per day — one in the daytime and one at night — so one member of the team was always out on the ocean going the trip.

During the journey, the kite boarders themselves kept a blog of their challenges, including intense weather conditions and the scaring feeling of seeing a teammate disappearing under water after getting hooked onto the dinghy.

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