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CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Spanish Count Discusses Jet Skiing Columbus's Path

Aired June 28, 2002 - 09:37   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Even if you are a count, it is good to be king. Alvaro de Marichalar, a Spanish aristocrat with connections to the Spanish royal family, just completed a record-setting trip across the Atlantic -- the first person ever to do this on a jet ski. His fantastic voyage from Rome to Miami took more than four months; it covered some 8,000 miles.

And the king of the jet ski set, the count, is with us this morning, and he is joining us from Miami.

Count, good morning.

ALVARO DE MARICHALAR, WORLD RECORD JET SKIER: Good morning.

KAGAN: For those of us Americans not familiar with you, explain to us first your royal connection. Your brother is married to the princess, the princess of Spain; is that right?

DE MARICHALAR: Yes, that's right. With Princess Helena.

KAGAN: You, though, have decided to dedicate your life to doing some pretty incredible stunts, including this jet ski trip across the Atlantic. Why did you feel like doing that?

DE MARICHALAR: I had four reasons to do this Atlantic crossing, on my little boat, as I called it: 2 1/2 meters-length boat. First, it was a dream. For the past 20 years, it has been my passion, my hobby, my favorite sport. I actually started -- start to navigate here in Miami, where I was a student, back in 1982. So it was to comply a dream. It was for me very, very important to try to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) precisely on the date of the commemoration of the 500 years of the fourth, and last, trip of Christopher Columbus.

The second...

KAGAN: So you have historical ties to your country as well.

DE MARICHALAR: Yes, exactly.

And the second reason was to set up a world record for Spanish navigation. That's been my seventh one through these last years.

The third motivation, and main one, which gives me a lot of strength to resist this long navigation days -- 12 hours a day navigating night, always standing up on the Sea-Doo, on the watercraft -- it was the anti-drug campaign and anti-alcohol campaign I do since 12 years now, collaborating with this foundation, this anti-drugs foundation, whose president is her majesty, the queen of Spain. What we do is we promote sports, we promote adventure, we promote the idea of being able to do anything by oneself without having this substance that kills, that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) your personality.

And we try -- with a video we do after these crossings. I take this video to universities, to summer camps, to schools...

KAGAN: Count, let me just jump in here real quick, because our time is so short, and I know our viewers are just fascinated with the pictures that they were seeing. Most Americans, when they think about jet skiing, they go out for a nice little trip on the lake for the weekend. What you were doing here, this looks really rough. You're standing the entire time, too; you just had to do that physically in order to make this happen.

DE MARICHALAR: Exactly. I have to stand up all the time, because if I sit, I would break my spine.

The seas were very rough all the way from Rome to the Canary Islands. That was 3,000 nautical miles. Then the Atlantic crossing itself, which was from the Canary Islands to Antigua -- another 3,000 nautical miles -- it was really scary, you know: big waves, you know, up to 18 feet, and trade winds of 30, 35 knots...

KAGAN: You had to have another -- did you have another boat riding along with you to carry your supplies -- if nothing else, fuel and food and a place to sleep?

DE MARICHALAR: That's right. There was a boat, but the boat would come very far away because my navigation is different. I go faster on the boat. And I would approach the boat each six hours to refuel and to eat. I would eat a lot, because I would lose like 3 kilos, 6 pounds, a day of weight.

KAGAN: Any point in the journey where you just had to think to yourself this was not a good idea?

DE MARICHALAR: No. I tell you, I was very happy to do it, because when I was tired, when I was almost, you know, crying of desperation and sometimes very scary also -- I saw sharks, I saw everything you can imagine.

On this big blue desert, which is the Atlantic Ocean, I thought about this motivation that takes me to this challenge, these kids. We convince them to say no to drugs. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we convince -- we want them to be courageous to say no the first time they have offered.

KAGAN: Very good. And quickly, before we let you go, tell us what's next for you. How do you top this one?

DE MARICHALAR: I beg your pardon.

KAGAN: What's the next thing, the next challenge for you? DE MARICHALAR: The next challenge is on the Fourth of July, I want to continue all the way to New York, because my dream is to end in the Statute of Liberty, taking all the flags of every country I visited. When I visited these countries, I gave the Spanish flag and the expedition flag, which is -- which is this one -- I will show you, and I will leave one here for you. And I took all -- all the flags for every country. And these flags I would like to put them, you know, in the Statute of Liberty. So this crossing, it will be a tolerance manifestation, demonstration -- tolerance between different races, cultures, religions, peoples...

(CROSSTALK)

KAGAN: We will be looking for you. We will looking for you. I'm sorry to cut you off. I know this is a very meaningful journey for you. It's just our time is short. Count Alvaro de Marichalar, congratulations on making it this far, and we'll look for you here in New York City.

DE MARICHALAR: Thank you so much.

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