An average speed over the duration of the crossing was equal to 20.4 km per hour. This sporting and cultural event became a symbol of tight and brotherly relations between the people of Russia and Cuba. The team consisted of the famous Russian kiter Konstantin Aksenov (Carlito), traveler and director of “Sodis” Vladimir Popov, experienced kiters Evgeny Yevtushenko and Anton Yakovlev.
At 08:05 a.m., Vladimir Popov was the first to start on the shore Marina Gaviota Cabo San Antonio in Cuba, immediately followed by Evgeny Yevtushenko and Konstantin Aksenov. The wind speed at the start made 20 knots (37 km/h), and the wave height reached 4-5 meters.
The unique crossing, dedicated to the legendary French kiter and surfer Arnaud de Rosnay, became an outstanding event in the history of kiteboarding. Initially, the event was planned to be held on February 10, but because of poor weather conditions and the faulty state of an escort boat, the start was postponed several times.
“The team had to do a solid piece of work to prepare the crossing. This involved not only physical training, but also equipment tests and, of course, collective training of kiters on the water to master and improve their interaction, because they all wanted to set the world record together. We had to cope with things, which are usually named â€œforce majeure circumstancesâ€. In forty minutes after the team’s departure from Istanbul to Havana, Turkey was convulsed by a devastating earthquake. We took off just before that disaster. Another unpleasant surprise was the breakdown of the boat during preparation works. We had to postpone the start for several days because of its malfunction. And the weather conditions at the starting point were also unfavorable. Cuba welcomed us with a cyclone. The crossing turned out to be very rough, and all the kiters were overstretched”, said Vladimir Popov.
“I would like to point out that no one has crossed the Yucatan Channel on kiteboards before. This expedition became a real try-out for all of us, and the team has passed this test with flying colors. Every step of ours was continuously recorded with three cameras, and the entire route was recorded onto seven GPS trackers. Now, we made an application for an entry into the Russian Book of Records to register our achievement”, said Vladimir Popov.
On the part of Russia, the team was supported by the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry, travel agency “Sodis”, experienced kiter Dmitry Nayshuller and CEO of â€œCGC Investmentsâ€ Alexander Belchikov, who rendered every assistance to the kiters and provided technical and organizational support. As for Cuba, the crossing found active support on the part of the Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Cuba, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Cuba, athletes from Cubadeportes and travel company “Gaviota”, which accommodated the crossing participants at the sports and tourist camp â€œMaria La Gordaâ€.
The teammates already have a great experience of making joint kiteboard-crossings at international scale. In 2018, an international team, consisting of 9 kiters, covered a distance of 200 km across the Indian Ocean from Mauritius to Reunion Island within 9 hours and 9 minutes. This crossing set a world record and was also entered in the Russian Book of Records.
Konstantin Aksenov and Vladimir Popov’s sixth Bahamas-Miami crossing through the Strait of Florida in February 2022 became an outstanding event. The kiters covered a distance of 108 km within 5 hours 55 minutes.
The kiter Konstantin Aksenov says that kiteboarding has become an Olympic sport, which brings together sportsmen and like-minded people from different countries even in times of travel restrictions and closed borders.
“I hope that such international crossings will be held more frequently, and different countries will actively assist their kiters in obtaining the documents to cross the borders in this unusual manner. I am sure that this will help attract people from all over the world to kiteboarding and make the sport even more popular with both young and more experienced sportsmen. But the fact that this sports discipline was included into the Olympics 2024 is already a great victory for all kiteboarding fans”, – said Konstantin Aksyonov.
For his part, the president of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry made a note of importance of such events for strengthening of friendly relations and sports ties between the countries.
“When people participate in similar sports events, where they have to display their strength, skills, persistence and do something that others have never done, it always wins my admiration and makes me believe in the inexhaustible potential of the human spirit. That is why, as the president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, I was happy to render assistance to the member of our organization, â€œSodisâ€, the oldest travel company, in organizing the most challenging kiteboard-crossing from Cuba to Mexico. During my trip to Cuba, I met with the Minister of Sports of that country and also contacted the Mexican authorities, and I told them about this interesting project and asked for their support in organizing the event. After all, without the support of the two governments, the crossing could not have taken place, as this event is related to border crossing. We received a positive response and were supported with receiving visas and other important documents. So, thanks to efforts of several countries and several non-profit organizations, this crossing finally took place. Russian kiters bore that rough and challenging crossing with fortitude and displayed their strength of mind. And that’s amazing, we can and should be proud of it”, said the President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vladimir Platonov.