Welcome to the Miami to Havana Race!
Hosts Coral Reef Yacht Club and Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba, along with SORC as Race Committee, proudly welcome your participation in the Inaugural Miami to Havana Race. On these pages you will find the story behind the race, pertinent data about the race, links to the entry forms, links to safety information, information on obtaining the permits required to enter the race, and a host of other information.
In the past year, SORC competitors have raced to the Bahamas in the Nassau Cup Race, Key West in the Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race, and to Jamaica in the Pineapple Cup Montego Bay Race, yet the crown jewel sitting geographically between all of those terrific winter racing destinations, Cuba, remained out of reach. This changed on December 17, 2014, with the words “Good afternoon. Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba.”. American sailors are once again allowed to legally race to Cuba. SORC distributed a survey, asking various questions about a potential race to Cuba, and developed this race based on the responses.
The result is the Inaugural Miami to Havana Race, starting on February 10, 2016, just south of the Miami harbor entrance. Host Coral Reef Yacht Club has a long history of association with both the former SORC “Southern Circuit” regatta and the current SORC race management team. Similarly, Cuban sailors were a big part of the old Southern Circuit, with Luis Vidaña’s Criollo crowned the Overall Winner of the series in 1957. Havana played a big part of the the Circuit, with the first St. Petersburg to Havana Race in 1930 and last in 1959. We now renew our ties with our sailing neighbors, first with the Miami to Havana Race, the final race of the Islands in the Stream Series, and then on February 14, with a coastal race along the Malecón, with local junior sailors assigned to each boat. An after race/awards party will follow, at the Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba.
April 6, 2016
The relaxation of restrictions on travel to Cuba opened the door to the possibility of renewing a winter series reminiscent of the old “Southern Circuit”, using races already in place, and capped-off with a historic return to Havana. The regularly scheduled Nassau Race in November and Key West Race in January, would be supplemented by using the scores from the Wirth M. Munroe Palm Beach Race in December, and the race from the sister city of Miami to Havana in February. Competitors could use their top two scores from the first three races, along with their result from the Havana Race, to determine the series outcome. Given the proximity of the Gulf Stream to each of these races, and the finish of the event at the Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba, the SORC named the series the “Islands in the Stream Series.” Read on...
Photo courtesy of Marco Oquendo. To see more Havana Race photos, visit his website www.imagesbymarco.com
March 8, 2016
By popular demand, we have opened an online store to order your inaugural Miami to Havana Race gear for a limited time. The online store will close on March 20...so tell your friends and crew, and get your gear now. Purchase caps, shirts, and vests by visiting our online store today.
February 10, 2016
It took just 19 hours and 36 minutes for skipper Marc Glimcher and the 21 crewmembers of Trebuchet to cross from Miami to Havana yesterday as the sleek 69 foot racing yacht sailed into history. Glimcher now holds the overall race record for the 220-nautical mile course as well as the outright record for the passage; a time that one crew member said was "ripe to be broken next year".
At just over half the length of Trebuchet, Stephen Murray’s New Orleans-based Decision took quite a bit longer, and while Murray and his international crew may have lost the battle, they won the war; Decision’s 2nd place in IRC class clinched their victory in SORC’s Islands in the Stream Series - the first such series offered by the historic South Florida racing association in more than a decade. “We’re not disappointed at all with our result in the race; we were happy to be crossing gybes with Trebuchet more than 5 hours into the race, but they were always going to leg out on us,” said Murray, who said the overall series trophy holds major significance for him. “I grew up admiring the SORC greats, devouring race results and news about the SORC series when I was a kid. To be the first winner of the reborn series feels really amazing,” Murray said. “If there’s one thing I’m disappointed about, it’s that we have to leave on Friday night because of prior commitments in the USA. Everyone in our crew wishes we had another week at least to explore this beautiful and unique place.”
While Decision’s course took them far to the Southeast and Trebuchet’s course stuck close the rhumb line for the inaugural Miami-Havana race course, the champion of all the PHRF classes was far more aggressive with their strategy; the Owen-Clarke design Class 40 Dragon committed to a more western strategy, and they committed hard. “Our weather updates convinced us to send it right down the Keys; not only did it keep us out of the current for the maximum amount of time possible, but it set us up for the lift and subsequent gybe,” said Hennessey. While Hennessey did the lion’s share of the navigating, it was crew Ashley Perrin who called the layline to Havana from an incredible 57 miles out. “With no one in sight at the finish, we knew we were either winning or losing badly, so we were pretty excited to find only one other boat on the dock after we cleared customs,” he said. Hennessey’s strategy gave Dragon a massive one-hour advantage over the near-identical AMHAS – a huge margin for this highly competitive class.
Dragon’s Western strategy was undoubtedly the move of the race, but Frank Kern found a little treasure of his own with the opposite strategy; the Michigan-based crew of Carinthia worked the South hard, gybing onto starboard only when they found a secret lane of friendly Gulf Stream countercurrent to bring them right into Havana. “We saw over a knot of Easterly current over on the left hand [Southeast] side of the course, and we weren’t going to miss that,” said Kern, who adds a Miami to Havana class victory to Carinthia’s overflowing resume of ocean racing wins.
A number of boats continue to race to Cuba; we will share their stories tomorrow, along with high-res photos of the arriving racers, when final results are in.
You can follow these skippers’ high-pressure decisions and replay the entire race to see how it unfolded on the SORC/Kattack Race Tracker.
For videos of the starts, photos from Miami photographer Marco Oquendo, and updates from racing teams and SORC media staff, head to the SORC Facebook Page. For the full entry list, including crew and boat information, click here.
February 10, 2016
Instead of screaming speeds and the organized chaos of a big wind race, four monohull and one multihull classes milled about sedately as the starting flags flapped limply at the 1 PM start of this historic race, with 4-6 knots of wind allowing just enough power to move even the slowest boat in the right direction: South. “We were all a bit surprised at the conditions when we got to the course, but it was a gorgeous day for spectators, VIPs, and of course all the racing crews,” said Chris Woolsey, Race Chairman. “As long as there’s enough wind to buck the Gulf Stream no one will be complaining too much, and it’s always easier on crews when the wind starts light and builds, rather than the other way around.”
Just four boats fill the fastest class in the race – the IRC handicap Class – and Marc Glimcher’s chartered high-tech 69-foot Trebuchet easily powered away to a half-mile lead over the entire fleet within an hour of the start. Despite the huge mast height advantage of the big Reichel/Pugh design over her Class competitors (a taller mast allows a racing yacht to utilize slightly stronger breeze off the water’s surface), a boat just half her length – the Carkeek 40 Decision – closed the distance to just a few yards as the sun set. The two yachts continue to battle for the lead in fluky air near Key Largo, while the heavier King 40 Hot Ticket bleeds miles to the two lightweight flyers, with Achilles Keel trailing the class.
The PHRF A class features dedicated racing yachts as well as several racer/cruisers, and on a 7 PM call-in from spinnaker trimmer Dan Tucker, we learned that the fleet was extremely close, thanks to very unstable conditions. “It’s light enough that the [full-race] Class 40s can’t really get away from us, especially now that the spinnakers are down,” said Tucker, sailing aboard Gary Weisberg’s Massachusetts-based J/111 Heat Wave. At 7 PM, Weisberg’s boat was reaching under Code Zero with around 12 knots from the WNW after “pretty much all the spinnakers around dropped at sunset,” according to Tucker.
The first two hours was troublesome for every race team; huge shifts in velocity and wind direction provided extremely tough trimming and helming conditions, though as Tucker explained, “It’s absolutely gorgeous out here now.”
The shock of the day comes from the Hobie 33 subfleet in PHRF C, where the youngest crew in the fleet aboard the Bradenton, Florida based Hot Stuff got stuck behind an Intracoastal Waterway bridge and crossed the starting line nearly ten minutes late; a huge margin for a one-design class. Incredibly, within 4 hours, the crew of current and past Roger Williams University sailors had caught, passed, and put a horizon job on the other three H33s – and the entire PHRF C class. The wonders of youth!
With the forecast looking moderate and relatively sedate for the next day, the fleet’s navigators will make their most important decision of the race tonight as they approach Marathon Key. Do they head into the Straits early, minimizing distance while facing more time in the adverse Gulf Stream? Or do they play it safe, keeping ‘one foot on the reef’ in the protected water near the shore, jumping off into potentially worse current at Key West?
For videos of the starts, photos from Miami photographer Marco Oquendo, and updates from racing teams and SORC media staff, head to the SORC Facebook page. For the full entry list, including crew and boat information, click here.
Photos are rights free only with mandatory credit reading “Photos Courtesy of Marco Oquendo/SORC”
February 9, 2016
Follow the fleet in real time starting at 1300 local time on Wednesday, February 10th on the SORC/Kattack Tracking Page.
Watch for race coverage, pictures, video, and news posted by the SORC media team at the SORC Facebook Page.
Like ocean racing? Check out other great SORC races.