HAVANA (Reuters) - With music, dancing and rum, Cubans celebrated on Friday the likely return of a record they consider rightfully theirs - the world's longest cigar.
At just over 148 feet 9 inches, the thick stogie stretched like a long brown snake through a room and out its front and back windows at El Morro, the old Spanish fort overlooking Havana Bay.
British diplomat Chris Stimpson made the official measurement, which he said would be sent to the Guinness World Records in London for confirmation.
"The best in the world, no?" said the cigar's smiling, ash-stained roller, Jose Castelar Cairo, better known as Cueto.
His six-day-long project, completed with several assistants, eclipsed the previous record of 135 feet (41 meters), held by Patricio Pena of Puerto Rico.
Breaking the record was a point of pride for Cubans, whose cigars are considered among the world's best.
"It's an honor for Cuba and I feel satisfied to do it for Cuba," Cueto said above the din of 50 or so happy Cubans sipping rum, singing and swaying to the lively music of a guitar-playing singer.
Cueto, who learned cigar rolling when he was 5 years old, is no stranger to big cigars. He held the record for world's longest three times before.
This cigar record was not without its drama. As late as Thursday, Cueto planned to roll a cigar 98 feet in length, thinking that would break the record.
But then he learned that Pena had bested it last year.
The veteran cigar roller worked until 5 a.m. to beat Pena's record, an effort which he said had left him "exhausted."
Friday, May 09, 2008