Photo caption: Neil Hutchinson leaves Key West on the record crossing to Cuba on Dec. 21, 2001. Photo by Red Bull
and the text before final editing if you can't make out the article in the second photo.
"Roots – The 2001 World Record Red Bull - Key West To Cuba Crossing
By Rick Iossi
In 2001 kiting was growing in popularity, gear was improving and riders were looking for new challenges. Five kitesurfers left Key West for Cuba on December 21, 2001. Eight and a half hours later three arrived in Cuba traveling 98.3 nautical miles, earning them the first official kiteboarding world distance record. The riders included Kent Marinkovic, Neil Hutchinson, Fabrice Collard, Paul Menta and Oliver Butsch. Gilles d'Andrieux organized the crossing and secured Red Bull sponsorship. I helped with insurance, logistics and spread word of their accomplishment worldwide in a series of articles on the old kitesurf email list.
Harsh 20 to 30 knot winds blasted into the Gulfstream tearing off 10 to 17 foot waves, severely challenging kiters and support craft. Kiters had moved on to larger four line C-kites with limited depowering and shorter twin tips from the smaller two line inflatable kites and longer directional boards of the early days. Neil and Kent were over-powered the entire time on large kites with short twin tips making surfing hard. Fabrice selected the ideal smaller kite and larger directional board making his crossing more manageable. Single minded determination got them to Cuba as skill alone wasn’t enough. Neil said that “he would make it to Cuba “on his board or in a body bag!”
Paul was being treated for a stomach virus in the hospital and still reduced when he checked himself out to join the crossing. He kited 50 miles before passing out through the effects of dehydration, exhaustion and internal problems. He was dragged over a hundred feet unconscious before rescuers could catch him. Oliver was disqualified when his kite ripped in two after striking one of the support boats near the start. He made the trip by boat though which was likely far worse for the major seas.
They met the extreme challenges of the crossing, made history and through continuing leadership have helped to evolve kiting into the sport we know today."
Way to go guys!