TURKS AND CAICOS (Dec. 17, 2013) – Six kiteboarders, including American Eric Pequeno, 30, of West Bloomfield, Mich., have completed the first ever non-stop kiteboard crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, a one way trip of well over 4,000 miles. The team departed Nov. 20, 2013, from Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands to cross the Atlantic Ocean en route to the Blue Haven Resort and Marina in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and reached their destination after 27 days and nights of travel. The HTC Atlantic Kite Challenge is the first-ever kiteboarding relay of its kind crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
“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 kiteboarders’ welcome at the Blue Haven Resort And Marina began at sea when they were met by a contingent of Turks and Caicos-based kiteboarders organized by local eco-adventure company Big Blue Unlimited, who rode the final few miles alongside the record-setting athletes. The kiteboarders’ families were also on hand to watch them make their first landfall in over three weeks.
“The feat of the Enable Passion organisation in completing this marathon across one of the world’s wildest oceans is awe inspiring,” said His Excellency Peter Beckingham, Governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands. “I toast the team for its commitment, effort and for choosing the Turks and Caicos as its ultimate destination. Their remarkable journey deserves the remarkable beach party that I know our friends at Blue Haven have organised for them this evening.”
HTC Atlantic Kite Challenge is the brainchild of Netherlands-based Filippo van Hellenberg Hubar, founder of the Enable Passion Foundation (www.enablepassion.com). Filippo is one of the six kiteboarders who participated in the crossing.
“It is unbelievable what the Enable Passion team has achieved with this crossing.” Said the Honorable Premier of the Turks and Caicos, Dr. Rufus Ewing. “I am proud that the Turks and Caicos Islands are the official arrival destination and are able to provide a very warm welcome to the riders.”
Kiteboarders strap themselves to boards similar to wakeboards, and then tether themselves to 46 to 56-foot wide parasails, or “kites.” The sole American on the expedition was Eric Pequeno, who won a slot on the adventure through a sixth rider Facebook competition. He has been a devoted kiteboarder since 2008, having become an experienced kiter on the Great Lakes.
The kiteboarders have ridden through schools of leaping flying fish, left trails in bioluminescent algae at night, sailed next to whales, passed sharks, and faced storms, lightning, and becalmed conditions where no progress could be made.
The six kiteboarders were accompanied by a catamaran, a Lagoon 500 called the Double-A, with five crew members including the 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 distance. For more about the expedition, log onto http://www.enablepassion.com.