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4 Women Halt Paddleboard Crossing of Florida Straits

July 26, 2002|From Reuters

KEY WEST, Fla. — Halfway across the Florida Straits, bad weather forced four women on Thursday to abandon their attempt to paddle to Key West from Cuba with their hands, on an 18-foot board.

The women had hoped to break a men's world record in paddleboarding set last year of 20 hours and two minutes for the 112-mile voyage.

But they gave up about halfway across because of storms and lightning, organizers said. The captain of the support boat made the decision to pull them out of the water.

The four would have been the first female paddleboarders to make the dangerous crossing frequently attempted by Cubans leaving the communist-run island on boats, rafts and inner tubes.

The team was led by Ramona d'Viola, 43, of Santa Cruz and included Brazilian-born Aline Paterson, 27, from Deerfield Beach, Fla.; Montreal-born Christine McCrady, 28; Kelley Jo Helt, 25, originally from Pennsylvania; and, alternate April Noon, 23, from Fort Lauderdale.

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