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June 11, 2012

A First! Across the Gulf Stream on a Paddleboard

Two watermen have made the crossing from Bimini to Florida on stand-up paddleboards, the first-ever such Gulf Stream crossing, to raise awareness for the problem of plastics in the ocean.

A pair of watermen completed a 60-mile crossing of the Gulf Stream on June 9 on their stand-up paddleboards, the first such crossing in history.

 Starting with a first paddle at the docks of the Bimini Big Game Club Resort & Marina to a final stroke landing just north of Haulover Beach in Miami Beach, Miami Watermen Bill Whiddon and Thaddeus Foote made history Saturday, June 9, 2012, becoming the first to cross the Gulf Steam on stand-up paddleboards.

The pair, paddling to raise awareness for Surfrider Foundation's Rise Above Plastics campaign, battled rainsqualls, searing summer heat and the natural northern drift of the Gulf Stream, to complete the 60-plus mile epic journey in 17 hours, 11 minutes and 43 seconds from the first stroke to the last.

"It was paddle, hydrate, eat and paddle more," said the 58-year-old Whiddon. "We did battle a 40 minute tough squall with the first hour of leaving the Bahamas and the seas went from flat to three-foot swells breaking into us."

To counteract the north pull of the Gulf Stream, Whiddon said he and Foote, 38, started a heading more southwest out of Bimini and then after 10 hours turned the course more to a due westerly direction that increased speed and pushed to the north.

"We only had one fish encounter when we woke up a huge sun fish basking on the surface," Whiddon recalled. "The fins on the fish were at least two feet long. We also had a school of dolphin swimming under our boards for a long time, using the shade for some relief from the blistering sun."

The cause behind the "Bimini to Miami Blue Water Challenge" is to raise awareness for Surfrider Foundation's Rise Above Plastics campaign to reduce plastics in the ocean.

"This crossing was a great opportunity to highlight the impact that plastics are having on our world's ocean and how our actions, as a society, can make such a big difference," said Foote.

C4 Waterman, a Hawaii-based adventure sports equipment company supported the crossing by supplying the paddlers with the innovative X-Wing Paddle. C4 is also dressing the paddlers from head-to-toe in their new line of performance apparel.