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

190916-AC75

U.S. Team Launches First America’s Cup Boat

Fast forward to around 2:25 to see the boat in action. First day out and already doing full-foiling gybes: not too shabby! Hard on the heels of the unveiling of New Zealand’s first AC75, the New York Yacht Club’s American Magic team has now launched its first America’s Cup ...read more

GGTobCaysHorseshoeColors

Picking a Charter Destination

Picking a destination should reflect the interests of your group, says People often ask about my favorite charter destination, and invariably, I sidestep the question with one of my own: “Well, what do you want to do on your vacation?” Most often I hear an incredulous, “Why, ...read more

sinking

Waterlines: Chasing Leaks on Boats

Chasing leaks on boats is a time-honored obsession. Rule number one in all galaxies of the nautical universe through all of nautical history has always been the same: keep the water on the outside. When water somehow finds its way inside and you don’t know where it’s coming ...read more

BestBoatNominees2020-Promo

Best Boats Nominees 2020

Bring on the monohulls! In a world increasingly given over to multihull sailing, SAIL magazine’s “Best Boats” class of 2020 brings with it a strong new group of keelboats, including everything from luxury cruisers nipping at the heels of their mega-yacht brethren to a number of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Relieve the load  One of the ancient arts of the sailor is setting up a “stopper” to relieve a loaded rope without letting anything go. The classic use for a stopper is to take the weight off the genoa ...read more

05

Ask Sail: Water Getting into Coax

Q: While inspecting behind the nav station for my spring cleaning, I discovered water behind my chartplotter and VHF radio stack. Freshwater to boot! Do electronics leak? I didn’t think so. — Everette Gracy, Norton Shores, MI Gordan West Replies  Last winter your region was ...read more

Instrumentation-Vakaros-Atlas-Head-On-(New-Main-Screen)

Gear: Vakaros Atlas

Small-boat Race Instrumentation The compact Vakaros Atlas provides real-time, on-the-water performance data as well as off-the-water analytics aboard smaller raceboats. Among the parameters measured are GPS speed, magnetic heading, time-to-line, VMG, pitch and leeway. The system ...read more

JeanneSocrates02

77-Year-Old Completes Solo Circumnavigation

After 320 days at sea, British sailor Jeanne Socrates, 77, arrived in Victoria, British Colombia, on Saturday, completing her latest circumnavigation and in the process becoming the oldest person ever to sail solo, nonstop around the world. Prior to the voyage, Socrates was ...read more