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Old 03-26-2008, 08:33 AM
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Photo credit: Red Bull
Neil sets off on the way to Cuba, December 21, 2001. Other riders included Kent, Fabrice, Paul Menta and Oliver.




Here is an article from 2002 about the World Record Run:

Kiteboarding Magazine, May 2002

Behind the scenes of the Red Bull Cuba Crossing!
By Ryan Riccitelli

No one can deny that Neil Hutchinson, Kent Marinkovic, Oliver Butsch, Fabrice Collard and Paul Menta are CORE for even trying something like this. After 8 hours and 48 minutes, 88 miles, Paul Menta almost dying, Oliver Butch slamming his kite into one of the rescue boats and the variety of other political and weather-related set backs, it's a miracle these guys pulled this off. Despite the media hype and the significance of the accomplishment itself, there is another story to be told. These five guys trained for months and built a brotherhood of respect among each other, which ultimately helped them to achieve their goal. I caught up with Neil Hutchinson via phone, as he was just about to leave for the Gorge. RR: You guys are nuts, bro. How did you get involved in something like this?

NH: I was over in Maui for the Red Bull King of the Air and I received a phone call from Miami and half an hour later I was confirmed to join the team. It was a definite surprise for me to participate.

RR: How did you train for this?

NH: Gilles, the organizer of the event, did an excellent job getting all the right people involved. Red Bull assigned each of us a nutritionist to make sure we were eating right and prepared for the journey. As for riding, we did several down-winders--the longest from Miami to the Keys totaling 120 miles.

RR: I heard you were dodging the nutritionist because you didn't think she would approve of your diet.

NH: Mate, I wake up and have a cup of black coffee and three to four cigarettes. It's a breakfast for champions. I usually ride all day and do not have time for lunch. At about 7 p.m. I am so starving I look for the biggest steak you could imagine and wash it down with about six beers. Oh yeah … I smoke two packs a day and hate vegetables.

RR: What did she think about it?

NH: She was shocked, to be quite honest. She really tripped out on me when I told her I did the practice run to Key West drinking four bottles of Gatorade and eating two Snickers bars.

RR: What were you thinking about while you were kiting through the 10-foot-plus swells?

NH: I should have listened to Fabrice's weather report. Everyone except Fabrice rigged too big of kites, and we were overpowered and getting launched through the swells as the winds grew stronger off the coast. The hours seemed to melt together as the chase boats lied to us about how far we had come to keep us on track.

RR: Did Paul Menta really almost die?

NH: Yeah, mate! Each chase boat had a rescue diver. Gilles, the event organizer, saw Paul lying face down with a death grip on his bar. He was the first to jump in the water to rescue him. It took him three tries to grab him because his kite kept powering up and pin-wheeling, which ripped Paul from his hands. It was a close call!

RR: What was the first thing you did when you hit land?

NH: At this point my legs had pretty much given out. We couldn't actually kite to the shore due to Cold War obstacles submerged off the coast. I fell off the boat and laid with my back flat on the dock and proceeded to drink a nice cold Corona while, of all people, the event's doctor brought me my cigarettes. The rest of the night was blur of beer, tequila and Cuban rum. The local people were very hospitable.

RR: Do you still the ride with these guys?

NH: I ride with these guys all the time. Our friendships have grown stronger through what we have accomplished in breaking the world distance record for kiteboarding. The feeling that Oliver and Paul couldn't complete the mission only helped drive us to conquer our goal. For us, this was like conquering Mount Everest.

RR: Do you have anything else you want to say?

NH: There is NO DOUBT IN MY MIND that Paul and Oliver could have finished this.
Paul was bitten by a shark weeks before, suffered from food poisoning and was flown out of Cuba shortly after we arrived. Oliver made a simple judgmental error at the beginning, which jeopardized his success. He was so pissed that he did not make the trip he threw up his kite and took it out on the Cuban waterways. I remember seeing the local faces of unbelief as piles of 1950 Fords started rolling up as they watched Oliver inverted 40 feet up, smiling back at them on their normally quiet intracoastal waterway.
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