Bruce Gipson and Lee McGregor set paddling record

Kayakers set record paddling from Bimini to Hallandale

Some people travel by speedboat or plane to cross the popular passage between Broward and the Bahamas.

These guys took a kayak.

Bruce Gipson and Lee McGregor kayaked 54 miles from the Bahamas to Hallandale Beach in a record-breaking eight hours and seven minutes.

Not bad for two men in their 60s.

They left Bimini at 5 a.m. on Nov. 1 and arrived in Hallandale Beach at 1:07 p.m.

Traveling in a 39-pound tandem surf ski that's 24.5 feet long and 19 inches wide, they set the record for crossing the Gulfstream by human power. The crossing is a common one taken by boaters in all kinds of power vessels, but rarely human-powered vessels like a kayak.

Gipson, 61, lives in Boca Raton.

McGregor, 64, spends time in Stuart each year with his sailboat, but hails from South Africa.

"They're machines for their age, for any age," said Kyle Shea, who manned the 27-foot support boat that set their course. "They did an awesome job. Just watching those guys go, they were machines. I got tired just watching them."

Gipson, a retired Miami Beach firefighter, set the record 31 years ago, traveling by kayak solo. He was 30 at the time. It took him 11 hours and 46 minutes to paddle from Bimini to Fort Lauderdale.

McGregor, a former South African Olympic coach, agreed to be his paddling partner last year after the two took first place for their age group in the 12-mile Masters Marathon race in Oklahoma City.

On their journey, they came across no sharks and few boaters.

Their biggest obstacle: seaweed.

"There was a lot of seaweed on the east side of the Gulfstream," Gipson said. "The rudder can catch the seaweed. We had to stop and pull the weeds off."

The last few miles were the hardest, Gipson said.

"I lost five pounds in eight hours," he said. "We could barely stand up."

That night, he celebrated with a mug of Magic Hat No. 9 beer and a dolphin dinner.

He has no intentions of tackling a third run.

"This is it for me," Gipson said. "Two is enough."

sbryan@sunsentinel.com or 954-356-4554

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