The Gulf-Stream Challenge


Words: Damien LeRoy

On Saturday, December 16th of 2017, history was made as Nick Ziegler, Rich Gardner and Damien LeRoy were the first to kiteboard though the Gulfstream, crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Pompano Beach in Florida to Bimini, in the Bahamas, by hydrofoil. It was an international adventure and a challenge never attempted before on a foil!

Conditions that day were questionable, but the team was ready for action. A small cold front was passing through but the big question was when would it hit? The Florida marine forecast showed winds of 10 to 15 knots and a one to two foot swell and, at 12:24pm, Nick hit the water in winds of just 5mph! It was tricky, but not impossible, to keep a kite in the sky and so the challenge was on with Nick, Rich & Damo all riding 15 metre Cabrinha Contra kites and getting up on their foils. 

Everyone questioned whether they would make it one mile, let alone 63 miles to the Bahamas, and then during the four plus hour adventure they fought cramps, marginal winds, excessive winds, tankers, clumps of seaweed, and the nagging wonderment at what might be lurking below. After a tough slog, the three adventurers made landfall at 4:41pm on the beautiful beaches of Bimini Sands Resort. They covered the full 63 miles distance in 4 hrs 17 minutes, landing at Bimini Sands in the Bahamas all in one piece and fully stoked!


Here are a few words from the adventurers after finally landing on Bimini beach.

Rich Gardner, 56
“I am getting to old for breaking Guinness records! I started cramping on the first dive of the kite!”

Nick Ziegler, 30
“I just wanted to prove that if you put your mind to something accompanied with pride, determination and hard work you can achieve anything.”

Damien LeRoy, 36
“Time is so precious, live now as tomorrow may never come! Believe in yourself and anything will be possible.”

The Stats

Saturday, December 16th 2017
Leaving from: NE 16th street /  Pompano Beach, Florida
Arrival: Bimini Sands Resort Marina /  Bimini, Bahamas

Total time: 4:17min
Total miles: 63.4

The Team

Nick Ziegler
Rich Gardner
Damien LeRoy

Antonio Marques: Marketing, Drone
David Daniels: Photographer
Chelsea Mercedes: Logistics Coordinator
Keith Willard: Captain
Mike Meskauskas: Transportation/GPS

Rich Gardner- Contractors Painting & Waterproofing Inc- Fuel- $600
BbTALKIN USA- Sabrina & Mark- Communications headsets
PKS Distributions- camera mounts and other misc
Bimini Sands Resort & Marina “Douglas Norris”
Bob Ziegler- Ziegler Builders Inc- $200
Chef Karina Rizzo- Mr. Pasta Catering- Food
Grace Gonzalez- Video equipment
Keith Willard- 34’ Venture
Antonio Marques- Photo and video equipment
Dave Daniels- Photo equipment
Shaun Bennett- Lift foil board
Mike Meskauskas – Transport/ GPS