Elias Van Sickle, a junior at East Hampton High School, and Julian Verglas, a junior high school student in New York City, kite-surfed from Montauk to Block Island on Sunday to raise money for and awareness of the East Hampton Ocean Rescue Squad, a volunteer group.
The crossing took one hour and 45 minutes in winds that averaged 30 miles an hour with 36-miles-an-hour gusts. The feat raised $3,000 for the rescue squad.
Kite-surfing is akin to sailing, but with participants on surfboards or smaller kite boards rather than in boats.
The pair, who are each 16, launched from Gin Beach in Montauk, accompanied by three members of the ocean rescue team: Rich Kalbacher, in a 24-foot boat, and John Ryan Jr. and Rob Lambert, on Jet Skis. The kiters were sponsored by the Best Kites and Cabrinha Kite companies.
Seas generated by the strong westerly winds measured 7 to 10 feet with some bigger swells. As the kite surfers passed Montauk Point and entered the blue water between Montauk and Block Island, they met large ocean swells. Traveling straight downwind in the direction of the waves, the kiters often disappeared in the waves’ troughs.
Although Verglas used a kiteboard, which has foot straps, Van Sickle rode a surfboard without that benefit. Each was tossed into the sea a few times, but quickly recovered and continued in the company of the chase boats to Block Island. Because the Montauk to Block Island ferry had ended its service the previous week, The pair flew back to Montauk on a chartered plane.