The number of countries with a communist regime has fallen rapidly over the past 30 years. There are still a few. One of them is the Caribbean island of Cuba. For many decades, the small country has been in a permanent clinch with its largest neighbor, which is also the only remaining superpower in the world: the United States. But now a thaw is in the offing. At the beginning of August, international observers believe, the United States could lift its restrictive travel bans to the island country. And a Düsseldorfer wants to be the first to seize this opportunity: Roger Klüh plans to take a motorboat from Florida to Havana. "When my boat was in the water, it made history every time," says Klüh during the conversation in the "Casa del Habana" cigar lounge on Grünstrasse.
But why does the son of the service entrepreneur Josef Klüh want to go to Cuba of all places? "It's all about sport - not politics," he says, adding: "It's also about bringing a piece of American history to the Cuban people!" By that Klüh means his boat.
If Klüh has his way, it will start on August 1st. Sounds like a sunny trip, 110 miles across the Atlantic. But things are not that simple. "The hurricane season begins in the region at the beginning of August. There are also an above-average number of sharks," says Klüh. In the Habana bar, there is already a lot that reminds you of your destination country. Bottles of Cuban rum stand on a glass table, old mirror covers hanging on the wall show a portrait of Fidel Castro - in uniform, of course.
Klüh does not want to talk about the cost of his extraordinary trip. His boat is named Apache Star. Many years ago, the 2700 hp ship enjoyed numerous successes as a racer under the Apache Heritage name the team that his father promoted as the main sponsor. So every ride is a victory. The boat was purpose-built for a track for two years. "And it is still considered the highest quality power boat of the last 30 years in the USA," says Roger Klüh. Now he himself wants to set "a sign of freedom".
The journey should take almost one and a half hours. With more than 220 km/h and four men on board. Klüh's goal is the Hemingway International Yacht Club. This association, which is anything but international as there are no foreign boats in Cuba today, is the official outfitter of the event. Klüh has already visited the place he wants to go to with the power boat himself, has walked the route along which he would like to take the boat when the time comes. He anticipates a large influx of Cuban visitors.
But it is not yet certain whether the Americans will actually grant their approval. Klüh tries every imaginable place. In 2014 he received a rejection. It should be better now. Three files are now filled with applications for permission to cross the US and Cuba, and a new application has now been added - according to Klüh, it is currently in the White House in Washington for approval. Barack Obama, the President of the United States, replied to him by email. "Since Obama's historic meeting with Cuba's head of state Raúl Castro, I think my chances are better," says Klüh.
If it works, the man from Düsseldorf wants to play it safe. There is always a helicopter with divers near his boat Apache Star in case there is an accident on the 110 mile route.
Source: RP Online