The number of countries with a communist regime has declined rapidly over the past 30 years. A few still exist. One of them is the Caribbean island of Cuba. For many decades, the small country has been in a permanent clash with its largest neighbor, which is also the world's only remaining superpower: the United States. But now a thaw is brewing. In early August, international observers believe, the U.S. could lift its restrictive travel bans to the island country. And a man from Düsseldorf wants to be the first to take advantage of this opportunity: Roger Klüh plans to sail a motorboat from Florida to Havana. "When my boat has been in the water, it has made history every time," says Klüh during the conversation in the cigar lounge "Casa del Habana" on Grünstraße.
But why does the son of service entrepreneur Josef Klüh want to go to Cuba, of all places? "It's exclusively about sports - not politics," he says, adding, "Besides, it's about bringing a piece of American history to the Cuban people!" By that, Klüh means his boat.
If it's up to Klüh, he'll be taking off on August 1. Sounds like a sunny trip, 110 miles across the Atlantic. But things aren't quite that simple. "At the beginning of August, the hurricane season starts in the region. There are also an above-average number of sharks," says Klüh. In the Habana bar, many things are already reminiscent of his destination country. There are Cuban rum bottles on a glass table, and on the wall are old Spiegel title pages showing a portrait of Fidel Castro - in uniform, of course.
Klüh doesn't want to talk about the cost of his extraordinary trip. His boat bears the name Apache Star. Many years ago, the 2700-horsepower vessel recorded numerous successes as a racing boat under the name Apache Heritage "My boat was world champion twice and also competed in Key West just twice," says the man who used to play ice hockey professionally, on the team that his father sponsored as the main sponsor. Every trip, then, a victory. The boat took two years to build specifically for one route. "And it is still considered the highest-quality powerboat of the last 30 years in the USA," says Roger Klüh. Now he himself wants to use it to set "a sign of freedom."
The journey is expected to take just under one and a half hours. At more than 220 km/h and with four men on board. Klüh's destination is the Hemingway International Yacht Club. This club, which is anything but international since there are no foreign boats in Cuba today, is the official supplier of the event. Klüh has already visited the place he wants to head for with the powerboat himself, has walked the route along which, when the time comes, he wants to sail the boat. He expects a large influx of visitors from the Cubans.
But it is not yet clear whether the Americans will actually grant their permission. Klüh is trying every conceivable avenue. In 2014, he received a rejection. Now things are supposed to go better. Three files are now filled with applications for permission to cross the United States and Cuba, and a new application has now been added - according to Klüh, it is currently before the White House in Washington for approval. Barack Obama, the president of the United States responded to him by email, he said. "Since Obama's historic meeting with Cuba's head of state Raúl Castro, I think I have a better chance," Klüh says.
If it works out, by the way, the man from Düsseldorf wants to play it safe. In case there is an accident on the 110-mile route, there is always a helicopter with divers near his boat Apache Star.
Source: RP Online