Using only the power of the wind, it took Christopher Columbus over five weeks to cross the Atlantic. Filippo van Hellenberg Hubar and his friends hope to do it in less than three.
There's one small difference: these guys are using kites.
With boards under their feet not much bigger than a lunch tray, the six intrepid kite boarders set off from the Canary Islands on Wednesday, 20th November, aiming for the Turks and Caicos islands, nearly 6,000 km away.
At almost one week in, they've suffered a few equipment breakdowns (one kite control bar – don't worry, they've got 17 spares) and been both threatened by sharks and escorted by dolphins. Whatever else happens over the next couple weeks, it's sure to be an adventure.
Each of the six riders will have two two-hour shifts in every 24 hour period – one during the day, and one during the night, keeping a kiter on the water at all times.
Making things more interesting is the presence of Eric Pequeno, the 'sixth man'. Needing six kiters to cover a 24-hour day while leaving others adequate time to rest, the original team of five opened up a competition. Pequeno, hailing from the Great Lakes area of the USA, has only been kiting for five years – but brings along natural enthusiasm and a broad range of experience with other water and board sports.
They are being supported by a 16.5m catamaran that will sail alongside the riders while they're kiting. The catamaran is crewed by professional sailors with years of ocean experience, as well as an on-board doctor in case of emergencies.
Once safely completed, the HTC Atlantic Kite Challenge crew will have set a new world record for the longest downwinder. The biggest challenges include inclement weather, open-ocean conditions (large rolling swell and high wind) and of course, simple exhaustion.
But so far, the trip has been nothing short of incredible. Says the team: “We are truly living the ocean life. This is the adventure we are searching for.”
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