Cuba to Florida on a Surfboard?

US athlete wants to promote better US-Cuba relations

Benjamin-Schiller-Friberg at the Hemingway Marina in Havana. Photo: AIN

HAVANA TIMES — A US athlete today began a journey estimated at 20 hours to try to cross the Florida Strait from Cuba to Key West paddling on a surfboard.

Benjamin Schiller Friberg, 35, jumped into the water with his board in the Marina Hemingway on the west side of Havana on Thursday, to try to cross the strait that separates Cuba from the United States rowing while standing on his board.

The trip seeks to “promote friendship between the peoples of Cuba and the United States, and promote a healthy and active life among people”, Schiller told the Cuban News Agency.

The idea is to cross about 100 miles (about 170 kilometers) separating the Cuban coast from Key West in about 20 hours and arrive at his destination in the early hours of Friday (local time).

Schiller said the voyage also seeks to impose a record for “paddleboarding”, rowing while standing on a surfboard.

A catamaran with a team of specialists is escorting Schiller on his journey through the waters of the Atlantic.

Attempts to cross the symbolic form about 100 miles between Cuba U.S. have recently become an obsession for extreme sports enthusiasts.

In mid-June, the Australian Chloë McCardel tried unsuccessfully to become the first person to cross the Florida Strait swimming without the protection of a shark cage.

McCardel, 28, had to give up her attempt after 11 hours, after suffering from jellyfish stings.

The veteran US swimmer Nyad, 63, and Australian Penny Palfrey also failed in the last two years with attempts to swim from Cuba to Florida.

The Australian Susie Maroney was the first to cover the distance swimming in 1997, although she did it protected by a shark cage.


5 thoughts on “Cuba to Florida on a Surfboard?

  • August 2, 2013 at 9:10 am
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    It would be appropriate if Schiller Friberg would issue a press statement acknowledging the thousands of Cubans over the years who found watery graves in their attempt to make the same crossing but without the benefit of a catamaran with a team of specialists as an escort.

  • August 2, 2013 at 7:51 am
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    I don’t live in the USA, I’m Canadian. In no way did I dictate to him what he should or should not do, I merely pointed out how offensive his stunt is. Fidel & Raul have never harmed me, but they have harmed and continue to harm the Cuban people whom I greatly respect and admire.

    I fail to see how his stunt in any way promotes friendship between the people of Cuba and the people United States. Could you explain exactly how this goal is accomplished? By whitewashing the watery graves of tens of thousand of Cubans? By promoting the Cuban tourism industry which is run by the Cuban army?

    The fact is there is no lack of friendship between the people of the United States and the people of Cuba. The animosity that exists is between the governments of the two countries. Will the Raul Castro now say to his Minister of Defence, “You know, we used to hate the USA, but now that an American athlete paddled his little surf board across the Florida Straits, I think we should all kiss and make up, now. That Bay of Pigs thing was just a big misunderstanding. Let’s hold free elections, ok?”

    Will President Obama say to Senator Rubio, “You know, we used to hate the Castros, but now that an American American athlete paddled his little surf board across the Florida Straits, I think Communism isn’t so bad anymore. Let’s all kiss & make up, ok?”

    Really? IS that how it works?

    I chose the word “narcissist” to describe this athlete because it accurately describes the mindset of a man who believes his ego-driven stunt can make people forget 53 years of hostility, suffering, and the memories of lost loves ones he’s gliding his surf board over.

  • August 1, 2013 at 9:48 pm
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    Dear Griffin: Talk about narcissism. Well, I’m offended by your truculent attitude. You’re entitled to your opinion – but you seem to forget this is THE USA you now live in, and we are free to act as we see fit, and we don’t need to conform to YOUR dictates of what is acceptable political correctness, even. I say more power to him as you also fail to recognize WHY he’s doing this – to promote friendship between the peoples of both nations. Judging from your antipathy, you’d have us always at each others throats- all because Fidel/Raul rule as they do and you can’t handle that. It’s tragic, and yes, due to the Castro regime, so many have died trying to cross the Straits. But don’t conflate this effort with your ideological purity.

  • August 1, 2013 at 8:10 pm
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    Good challenge!!

  • August 1, 2013 at 8:09 pm
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    Does this clueless athlete have any idea how offensive his stunt is to the families of the thousands of Cubans who have drowned in those same waters while attempting to escape the dictatorship that is Castro’s Cuba?

    What a narcissistic jerk!

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