American Hobie 16 Sailors Square Off Against Cuban Sailors in Havana Harbor

Author:
Updated:
Original:
Photo courtesy of Cross-Stream Exchange.

Photo courtesy of Cross-Stream Exchange.

As relations with Cuba continue to improve, sailboat races are returning to the long-forbidden island nation. The first of these, the Havana Challenge, took place from May 15 to May 21 when a group of American Hobie 16 sailors from Key West, Florida, raced to Marina Hemingway in Havana. Event organizers applied for and received the necessary permits, making this the first U.S. Government-sanctioned race to Cuba in 50-plus years.

The three-part event consisted of a 30-mile Gulf Stream Shakedown, followed the next day by a Havana leg, which brought the fleet across the Gulf Stream to Cuba. After that, came The Malecón, a series of inshore races that pitted Yankee sailors against their Cuban counterparts—including Cuban Olympic sailors and the Cuba National Sailing Team—in front of Havana’s iconic Malecón esplanade.

The Havana Leg kicked off at 0730 on a Saturday with a Le Mans start in Key West that saw an armada of five Hobie 16s and 14 support vessels setting off onto the 90-mile course, with the first boat arriving at the Marina Hemingway around 1715 that evening. En route, the competitors saw sustained winds of 18 to 20 knots, with gusts to 25-plus knots, and seas of up to 12 feet—tough duty for small beach cats.

“Forty percent of the fleet got ripped apart. One boat wouldn’t go any farther than Marina Hemingway,” said Capt. Joe Weatherby, who served as one of the event organizers, of the boisterous offshore conditions. “The piece of sailing they did was freaking heroic!”

Fellow event organizer Capt. George Bellenger and his (rotating) crew took line honors in Cuba, but—just as importantly for the event’s goal of fostering cross-cultural relations—the Cuban nationals mopped the racecourse with the Americans during the inshore portion of the regatta.

“They kicked our butts—it was spectacular!” said a delighted Weatherby, adding that organizers plan to turn this race into an annual affair. “Next year, we’ll take 500 raceboats down there!”

For more sailboat racing news, click here.

August 2015

Related

Pico-Michael

Cruising: Less (LOA) is More

The breeze kicks up. The boat digs in, and I tighten my grip on the mainsheet. It’s overcast but warm. The slate-blue water around me is patterned with whitecaps. Ahead, the low, tumbling hills of Old Mission Peninsula, a 17-mile long finger of land separating the east and west ...read more

2020-06-01_13-53-06

A New Era for Sailing Program Safety

As states begin to lift restrictions on gathering and marinas open back up, many sailing programs are still wary, especially since sailors from different households will necessarily be in close quarters, whether on their boat, in a launch or at a yacht club. Most will not be ...read more

MTcyNTIwMzc1NDYzMTkyNDkw

Zipwake

Zipwake Series S, the world's first inexpensive dynamic trim-control system, incorporates a state-of-the-art family of durable, fast-acting interceptors. The system is fully automatic, and is designed to significantly enhance performance, fuel economy, comfort and safety when ...read more

CCA-story-2048x

Safety Culture Starts with the Skipper

Sailing might not be the first pastime that comes to mind when you think of extreme sports, but that’s not to say risks don’t abound. The Cruising Club of America tackles many of them head-on in their newly released guide for skippers, Creating a Culture of Safety: The Skipper’s ...read more

GMR19_F53_0539

Boat Review: Beneteau First Yacht 53

Luxury performance-cruising isn’t entirely new. You can go fast and still be comfortable. You can even race if you make the right tradeoffs—or so says Beneteau, which recently launched its First Yacht 53, in the process also reinventing the company’s “First” brand. Design & ...read more

BirdonBoard

Cruising: Birds of a Feather

One of the neatest things about sailing offshore is the other lifeforms we encounter. We smile when we see flying fish skimming over the surface of the sea. We cheer when dolphins leap and dance in our bow waves. We are duly reverent when mighty whales sound and spout, and ...read more

pirate-marlin-logo

Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament

This Spring has felt a bit like a slow day of fishing but it’s almost time to time to Bait…and Switch. The Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournaments offer something for every member of your crew. Exceptional fishing, fun times with family, old friends and new. Our run is short, our ...read more