BOARDERS GET BELLYFUL OF ADVENTURE
A TEAM of four British surfers are set to cross 112 miles of ocean on
The adventurous paddlers will use only their hands and arms to propel
themselves from Cuba to Florida.
Their endeavour, which aims to raise more than £40,000 for Cancer Research
UK, will also involve an added fear factor as sharks inhabit parts of the
Team leader David Smart, 36, of Isleworth, Middlesex, will spearhead the
challenge. He will be joined by fellow thrill seekers James McKenzie, 34,
from Bushey in Watford, Herts; Jason De Groot, 35, from Braunton, North
Devon; and Monty Young, 33 from Kennington, South London.
They were inspired to raise funds for Cancer Research UK after Mr
McKenzie’s wife Denise was successfully treated for a brain tumour.
The quintet will be competing against four other teams two from Florida,
one from South Africa and an international women’s team.
All are due to set off from Cuba’s capital, Havana, in July and expect to
arrive in Florida’s picturesque Key West 20 hours later on fibre glass
boards – similar to normal surf boards though longer – which have been
specially designed for endurance paddling and open ocean crossings.
David Smart says: "Our greatest fear is the possibility of a shark encounter.
"Tiger and Great White Sharks inhabit the Straits of Florida, along with
migrating whales, Manta Rays and 1000’s of jelly fish. I’m sure it will
encourage us to paddle a little faster."
Monty Young adds: "Another huge challenge will be the weather. Hurricanes
and torrential rain squalls can pass by in an hour but leave a trail of
devastation in their wake.
"Our families and friends are firmly behind us but they must be secretly
thinking that we are completely crazy."
The crossing was first completed in 2000 by a four-man American team. Last
year an all-girl USA team failed in an attempt to repeat the challenge.
James Mckenzie says: "My wife was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2001
and the doctors recommended a trial drug. Treatment worked but it has left
Denise with a long road to recovery, which she embraces every day and
continues to grow stronger.
"If I can help to make things easier for others who endure what I and
wife has gone through by supporting Cancer Research UK, I will be a happy man."
In preparation for the challenge, the team is planning to paddle their way
across a number of UK inland waterways and circumnavigate the Isle of Wight.
They are currently seeking sponsorship for the event and anyone wishing to
support them can contact Cancer Research UK Community Fundraiser Emma
Carlisle on 020 7009 8595.