Cuban migrant who windsurfed to Key West shares ordeal - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Cuban migrant who windsurfed to Key West shares ordeal

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Cuban migrant Henry Hugo Vergara Negrin Cuban migrant Henry Hugo Vergara Negrin
The Cuban migrants' trajectory The Cuban migrants' trajectory
Henry Vergara (right) and his two windsurfing companions (from left), Amando and Dwarta Henry Vergara (right) and his two windsurfing companions (from left), Amando and Dwarta

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. (WSVN) -- The Cuban man who garnered national headlines after he and two other migrants attempted to flee their homeland using only windsurfing boards, shared his survival story.

Twenty-four-year-old Henry Vergara said he and his two companions on the perilous journey across the Florida Straits left Jibacoa, a fishing village about 100 miles south of Key West, Tuesday around 9 a.m.

Vergara said he left with nothing but a water bottle and a picture of his girlfriend, who is still in Cuba. "In those minutes, in those hours, you cannot get tired; you have to be very strong," said Vergara in Spanish, Saturday, from his family's Southwest Miami-Dade home.

Vergara, who said he spent a year preparing for the voyage, arrived in Key West just over nine hours after departing from Jibacoa. "In the middle of the Florida Straits, there are strong currents, strong wings, but I achieved it," he said through a translator.

Despite exhaustion and blistered hands, Vergara said he felt a great sense of relief. "I felt like I was in heaven; I felt good, that I accomplished what I wanted," he said. "It's a dream, a dream come true."

That dream also became a reality for Vergara's friend Amando, 28, who was found by Coast Guard officials on dry land Friday morning. The third migrant, 23-year-old Dwarta, was found in the water a few miles from Key West, Thursday morning, which according to the U.S. "Wet Foot, Dry Foot" policy, means he will be sent back to Cuba.

Vergara said he became very concerned when he did not spot his friends upon arriving in Key West. "I thought the worst; my friends hadn't arrived, but thank God they're OK," he said.

Vergara, who said he aspires to become a professional windsurfer, said he was able to pull through with much determination. He said he plans to go to school and begin a new life in the U.S. He added he will continue to windsurf and take on some other water sports.

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