An American duo on Thursday crossed the Florida Straits by powerboat in a new record time, covering the distance from Key West, Florida, to Cuba's capital in an hour and 18 minutes.

The time established by Nigel Hook and Jay Johnson eclipsed the previous record - set by Germany's Roger Kluh in August 2015 - by 12 minutes.

Hook and Johnson told reporters at Havana's Malecon, the capital's seaside esplanade, that they would now try to beat their record time on the return journey.

"It started off very, very challenging," Hook said, adding that he and his partner had to deal with choppy seas and had gained newfound respect for that body of water between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

He added that once they spotted the Cuban coastline conditions became calmer and they reached a top speed of 127 miles (204 kilometers) per hour.

The Americans piloted a 48-foot-long SilverHook powerboat that they said they had personally designed and considered the best monohull in existence.

Hook said he hoped their journey would boost friendship between the two countries.

American Gard Word set the first United States-to-Cuba (Miami-to-Havana) motorboat record in 1922 when he made the journey in nine hours and 23 minutes on a 50-foot watercraft.

That was later eclipsed by American Forrest Johnson, who covered that roughly 100-mile (160-kilometer) distance in six hours and 23 minutes.

The record most recently was held by Kluh, who completed the crossing in one hour and 30 minutes on Aug. 1, 2015.