Boardsailing: Freedom Jiber

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Outside magazine, May 1994

Boardsailing: Freedom Jiber
By Todd Balf

How long had he planned the daring crossing, reporters wanted to know last February. Eugenio Maderal Roman, who’d just arrived in Marathon, Florida, after a nine-hour, 110-mile boardsailing odyssey from Cuba, hadn’t planned it at all. “If I’d thought about it twice, I wouldn’t have done it,” said Roman, a 21-year-old boardsailing instructor at the Club Tropical hotel in Cuba’s
Varadero Beach resort area. Actually, Roman knew it was possible because a boyhood friend had made a similar journey in 1990, but he never seriously considered such an insane stunt. “I went surfing, to catch some air,” said Roman, who launched from his girlfriend’s house on Varadero Beach at 1 P.M. on February 8 and headed for his aunt’s place a few miles east of there. But the
winds were unfavorable for a family visit, so Roman sailed out to sea instead–and he kept sailing. Navigating first by the sun and later by the North Star, he rode the steady eight- to 15-knot easterlies until he was five miles off Marathon. When the winds died, he stood on his board and rowed with his mast until he rolled up, exhausted, on the beach. Roman, who hopes to be
granted political asylum in the United States, said, “Something was calling me.”

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