3 women to paddle board for charities from Cuba to Key West

HAVANA – Using only their hands, three women plan to paddle the Florida Straits from Havana to South Florida.

At Havana's Marina Hemingway Local 10 News reporter Hatzel Vela met Aimee Spector, 43, who was lying on her stomach, paddling across the water on a 12-foot board.

"Our arms are our engines," fellow paddleboarder Cynthia Aguilar said.

It will be a long trip back home for the women, and probably the first of its kind.

"We wanted, like, a real challenge," Aguilar said.

Aguilar is one of the three women who plan to paddle the Florida Straits using only their hands. She said they will be followed by a leading vessel.

The weather was just right for them on Thursday, but it can always turn.

"Wind, currents -- currents are the strongest thing out there," Aguilar said.

Most people are not used to navigating the ocean, and would probably worry about other issues, like sharks or jelly fish. But the women said they are fully prepared.      

"We're going to get stung, shake it off (and) keep going," Aguilar said.

The longtime Miami Beach lifeguard said she knows sea life in and out of the water.
"Our biggest obstacle is probably fatigue, just knowing the distance that we're going," Spector said.

The journey across the Florida Straits will be a relay race, meaning they're taking turns paddle boarding.

The women will paddle for two hours each at a time and will then reduce the time, which will allow them to rest longer.

The adventure is not just for fun. The women want to bring two charities to the forefront, Oceans of Hope and Special Olympics 305.

"We want to show them whatever you put your mind into, you can make it happen," Aguilar said.

"It's just really the foundation of what we believe in," paddleboarder Karen Figueroa, 53, said. 

Figueroa said she was onboard the idea since the beginning.

For them, the voyage from Cuba to Florida is simply about paddling, inspiring and giving back.

The goal is to make it to Key West in 25 hours. Of course, weather is going to be a big factor, but Local 10 News' cameras will be on the other side waiting for them to arrive.


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