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Cuban man seeking freedom windsurfs to Florida

Daily Deal and Travel Blogger

A Cuban man last week windsurfed his way from the Caribbean island nation to Florida, media reports said, becoming the first Cuban windsurfer to make the 100-mile crossing in two decades.

Henry Vergara Negrin, 24, and two friends left Jibacoa, Cuba, not far from Havana. He reached land at the tony Waldorf-Astoria Reach Resort in Key West, Fla. During the 9 1/2-hour trip, he crossed the straits known for "sharks, difficult currents and sudden squalls."

After four hours or so he lost sight of his windsurfing buddies, a Reuters story said.

Negrin told that after he left the island last Tuesday, he carried only 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," he said, adding he now hopes to go pro.

Negrin's two companions, however, didn't arrive under their own power. One was rescued Thursday by a fisherman south of the Florida Keys, and the third was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard on Friday after spending four days at sea. "He was unable to move himself and the officers had to use his surfboard to carry him," a spokesman told Reuters.

The Surfer Today story explains what will happen to the men: "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."

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman in South Florida told CBSMiami that Negrin gets to stay.

The last time freedom-seeking windsurfers from Cuba arrived on land in Florida was a few decades ago. Eugenio Maderal Roman, 21, in 1994 windsurfed from Cuba to Marathon in about nine hours. He had been childhood friends with a man who had windsurfed to Florida in 1990, the New York Times reported at the time.
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