Cotopaxi has launched an annual international expedition called Challenge 113. For the inaugural adventure, a small team of entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and adventurers are sailing from Key West to Cuba and then kayaking back to Florida – a distance of 113 miles. While in Cuba, the team will be meeting with local entrepreneurs, learning their stories, and volunteering as mentors and thought partners to help them advance their goals.
Below you will find a feed of pictures, tweets, and blog posts that provide a look at their experience in Cuba, preparation for the paddle, and the crossing. Follow their live tracking link here.
Want to get involved? Challenge yourself to complete 113 miles of any human-powered activity by 11/3. Our partners will donate 10 cents for every mile you bike, 25 cents for every mile you walk/run. Sign up here!
After 34 hours of ingesting all manner of goo, ensure, and salt pills, a post crossing surf and turf feast (complete with #cuban lobster tails and #zebracakes) really hit home how incredible this entire expedition and the people involved have been. Hats off to @gearforgood for going above and beyond in every sense of the word with #challenge113. Definitely looking forward to @gearforgood future undertakings.
Last night a little after 10 pm, 35 hours after pushing off from Marina Hemingway in Cuba, we landed on the shores of Key West, Florida. It was an overwhelming feeling hitting land – a few paddlers immediately fell into the water, unable to stand. But exactly 24-hours earlier, the outcome was decidedly less certain. Six-foot swells and complete darkness had forced the five kayaks in to a tight swarm around one of our support ships. In the shuffle, our kayak caught a swell and was pulled under the bow of the ship. The fiberglass kayak made a loud crunch, pain shot through my leg and we capsized. We swam the kayak through the swell to the second support ship, to salvage it and continue. Once flipped back over, Davis climbed in. The swell overpowered the kayak again and took Davis down with it, slamming the kayak back into the support boat. Davis soon retuned to the ship, but the kayak wouldn't. It literally broke in half and sank. The next two hours would see a number of kayaks and paddlers go overboard. The conditions would remain too dangerous to re-enter, but we kept moving forward with one remaining kayak in the water, which would ultimately complete the crossing. Several hours later as the swells dissipated, Davis and I were able to safely return to the water and complete the remainder of the journey, paddling 90 miles over the 35 hours. An intense bond has formed with my fellow paddlers and our selfless support. You will forever be a part of me. And to our support at home, specifically my wife @thingsdaily, thank you for your messages and prayers, they sustained us through dark, lonely moments. And to my partner and friend @davismsmith, I love you. Thank you for this amazing gift. #challenge113 #cubakayak #mckayaking
Made it. All of it. 113 miles from Cuba to Florida in a kayak. 34+ continous hours in the boat. Never been so exhausted in my life. @franksedlar is a monster. Full story coming soon. Thank you to @gearforgood for making this insane thing happen. Photo credit: @redtractorproductions #cubakayak #challenge113 #ConnectedStates
Today the Cuban government held a press conference with national and international media to talk about our Cuba crossing. The Cuban Commodore's message to us was clear and inspiring. "When you feel tired at night, when you feel weak, remember that this is bigger than a sporting event. This is a message to the Cuban and U.S. governments. Undoubtedly, this crossing is a starting point in our friendship between these two peoples." The next two days are going to be brutal. Please keep me and our team in your thoughts and prayers. We depart at 12pm ET, and you can follow our path across the Florida Straight here: Cotopaxi.com/challenge113. #cubakayak #challenge113
U.S. #Olympic gold medalist @joe_jacobi displaying the just signed Friendship Agreement between US and #cuban kayakers at Marina #hemingway, the only yacht club in #havana to survive the revolution. So many things about to happen here in Cuba post embargo and camaraderie on the water will be one of them. #challenge113 @gearforgood @carryology
@gearforgood co-founder and CEO @davismsmith answering questions at the press conference about our #cuba to #florida crossing tomorrow. It's been incredibly humbling the support we've received in Cuba for this crossing and the larger implications this trip has for a post-embargo Cuba #challenge113 @carryology
Cuba's Club Nautico held a press conference this afternoon all about this hundred + mile paddle back to Florida #challenge113 and the beginnings of new relationships. this club is unique in that it was the only one successful in reopening after the revolution and is still the only existing yacht club in Cuba. paddlers will start here tomorrow at noon #theyarekindofabigdeal 😉
Beyond thrilled w/quality of entrepreneurs I've met. Incredible potential, incredible to run a web biz w/out the web pic.twitter.com/pbp1dL54js
— Adam Popescu (@adampopescu) September 10, 2015
24-hours from this minute the two of us will push our kayaks off the dock in Havana and begin a 30 to 40 hour paddle across the Atlantic to Key West. If successful, we'll be the first to accomplish the feat. Cuban officials have been amazingly supportive and are actively working towards a successful journey with us. The Cuban nation kayak team will be warming up with us tomorrow morning, in fact, and they're actually holding a press conference later today to celebrate our journey. We'll be accompanied by 8-other paddlers that range from Olympic gold medalists and world record holders to journalists wanting to be close to the experience, if even for a time. We have two support boats who will be standing by if needed. @davismsmith and I will be attempting an unassisted paddle between the two countries, meaning no physical contact with the ships. The weather is still an unknown, but after all we've come through for this trip over the last 7-months, I have faith we'll come through. Here goes… #Cuba #cubakayak #challenge113 #mckayaking
Many have been asking about my safety. I am. I spent the last few days in Cuba's interior: lindo y sin comunicacion pic.twitter.com/PttLW1BmUv
— Adam Popescu (@adampopescu) September 10, 2015
I first went diving in the Bay of Pigs in 2010 during my first trip to Cuba. It was the location where World War 3 was almost triggered. 114 men died in a botched US invasion, and 1,200 men were captured and imprisoned. It is also one of the most beautiful dives in the world, with a 2,500 sea wall accessible from a shore dive. It was the perfect way to relax before our paddle in 48 hours! #cubakayak #challenge113
Cuba's nothing if not musical. These live samba bands are playing all over Trinidad. It's less for tourists (because there just really weren't many), and more for themselves and the desires and streets they hang out in. This man, pictured, was as steady as his wooden blocks that he clapped. No smiles. No eye contact. When I approached him, I asked him if it was ok to take his photo and he nodded and cracked a little smile, but by the time the shutter closed, it was gone. You win this one, guy. #Cuba #cubakayak #challenge113
Cuban grocery store. This is literally the only thing on the shelves. With a monthly ration booklet, every Cuban gets a small monthly supply of beans, rice, flour, sugar and soap. One taxi driver told me: "Foreigners love Cuba because it is like waking through a living museum, but for those of us that have to live in the museum, it's hell."
I''ve never owned a car in my life but it's impossible not to fall for the old cars that fill the streets of #havana. Despite an influx of #soviet made cars, the old #chevy #ford and #generalmotors vehicles are still the preferred mode of transport. Boasting diesel engines and in meticulous conditions, cruising through the #cuban capital with a beer in hand in one of these cars is a great way to spend an afternoon. #challenge113 @gearforgood
While wandering through old #havana we came upon the equally as old #bacardi building. The quiet bell man ushered us into a creaky elevator which miraculously got us to the top floor. What greeted us was the faded colors of Havana stretching before us and the faint beat of #salsa from below. #challenge113 @gearforgood @carryology
After clearing #cuban customs we tied up in marina #hemingway in western #havana. Our captain George had a cousin George who drove us through the streets of Havana in his 52 #chevy. All the cars in #cuba have been retrofitted with diesel engines. The smell of #Venezuelan diesel mixed with a Cuban seabreeze is a smell that doesn't soon leave your senses. #challenge113 @carryology
Hello from Cuba! The journey over was nice and smooth. We're waiting on our friend from NOAA to tell us whether we need to start paddling back tomorrow morning or if we have another weather window on Saturday. We're all hoping for Saturday so we get more time to explore. Fingers crossed! #ConnectedStates #challenge113 #cubakayak
Update from Havana. It looks like our best weather window will be this weekend. We plan on hitting the water Friday at noon and not stopping until we reach Florida. Will be keeping an eye on the weather in the meantime but that looks like our best shot. In the meantime, we've got some exploring to do! Woooo! #cubakayak #challenge113 #ConnectedStates
…searching for WiFi at hotels that charge $10 an hr, or a handful of hotspots in Havana, w/state run access cards.. pic.twitter.com/bH1czXnewy
— Adam Popescu (@adampopescu) September 7, 2015
So, I'm about to voyage to #Cuba in this crazy boat with a group of fellow crazy people and @gearforgood. The plan is to explore for a few days (or a week, depending on weather) and then kayak back to Florida. It will be 113 miles from one port to the other and we think it will take between 30 and 50 hours of paddling. We'll be in tandem kayaks and yes, we will have support boats. I'm going to do my best to do the whole thing, but if my body gives out on me I won't have an ego about it and I'll let someone sub in for me, relay style. The team goal is more important than my individual goals. We're working with NOAA and are keeping a close eye on developing storms, so we're being as safe as we can be while doing something inherently unsafe. Will probably be offline until I'm back, but will have much to share upon my return. Wish me luck! #cubakayak #challenge113 #connectedstates #kayak #kayaking #imonaboat
For those following the saga, the Coast Guard and OFAC had been denying our voyage in to Cuba. But the word has come down and it's official! We set sail in three hours and counting! I've been writing about the whole journey so far (and you can follow the entire journey) at blog.cotopaxi.com/challenge-113 (link in bio) #mckayaking #challenge113 #cubakayak #coastguarddrama