Sunday, January 22, 2017

Key West to Cuba Preview

Key West Havana Race (Key West, FL)- The old Conch Republic Cup has been revitalized after years of not taking place.  Last year the teams that participated had a wonderful time sailing from Key West to Havana, Cuba to relax in the nicely appointed Marina Hemingway along the waterfront. The event, also known as Key West Cuba Race Week, starts Sunday, January 22nd (after Key West Race Week) and continues through Friday, February 3rd.

The 2017 event is to be the second Conch Republic Cup since U.S. tensions began easing with Cuba. The historic race began in 1997 with a Key West race to Varadero and expanded to include Havana in 1999. This will be its ninth edition.

Hosted by Key West Community Sailing Center and Cuba’s Hemingway International Yacht Club, the race is a triangle: a 100-mile adventure from Key West to Varadero, a 90-mile race from Varadero to Havana and a 90-mile leg from Havana to Key West.

J/120s sailing to Havana“The Conch Republic Cup is the only race with more than one stop that runs along the coast of Cuba,” said Conch Republic Cup Executive Director Karen Angle. “It is not just a race to Cuba. It is a series of races that includes a return race to Key West.”

The Cup had a 13-year hiatus after U.S. authorities enforced a Cuban embargo in 2003. Although federal officials indicted organizers Peter Goldsmith and late partner Michelle Geslin that year for “trading with the enemy,” a Miami federal judge later tabled the case.

“We want to introduce as many sailors in the U.S. community to Cuba and revitalize racing between Key West and Cuba. We truly are a cultural exchange through sport,” said Peter Goldsmith, Conch Republic Cup president. “We’re an all-volunteer organization that donates to youth sailing programs in both countries.”

On non-race days, tours in Cuba include venues frequented by writer Ernest Hemingway. Throughout the 1930s, Hemingway lived in Key West, where he penned “To Have and Have Not” as his only novel set in the United States.

“Balancing race days with lay days gives participants time to enjoy sights and adventures Key West and Cuba have to offer,” Angle said. “Sailors who follow the racing calendar can continue on to the Caribbean racing circuit.”

Havana race taxiThe event’s Race Village and registration is to open at Dante’s Key West at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 22. Race days are Tuesday, Jan. 24, with a 5 p.m. start from Key West to Varadero. On Thursday, Jan. 26, sailors race from Varadero along the Cuban coastline to Havana and Hemingway Marina. On Sunday, Jan. 29, a Havana Harbor buoy race at Morro Castle and a yacht parade along the Malecon are scheduled. Sailors race from Havana to Key West on Thursday, Feb. 2 and an awards celebration is scheduled Friday, Feb. 3 at Dante’s.

Currently, 25 boats in three classes (PHRF Spinnaker, PHRF Non-Spinnaker, Multihull) and six support vessels – with more than 200 sailors to represent more than 13 states – are competing in this year’s edition of the Conch Republic Cup / Key West Cuba Race Week.  Included in this year’s fleet is JD Hill’s J/122 SECOND STAR from Lakewood YC and Dallas, Texas.  For more Conch Republic Cup sailing information