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.
March 17, 2017
Hennessy said the team’s strategy wasn’t too different to last year’s despite a completely different forecast, thanks to some pre-race research carried out by the team on a cruise in these waters earlier in the year. “We knew the center of the Gulf Stream was a little bit further South than last year, but we were confident the Westerly approach would pay again,” said the Dragon owner and skipper, whose team not only one their second-straight Miami to Havana Race – they actually beat their race winning time from last year by nearly 5 hours! “This is definitely one of our favorite races, for obvious reasons!” Hennessy said shortly after being dubbed “Mr. Havana” by fellow competitors for his back-to-back victory.
Nearly every winning boat sailed a similar course to Dragon, staying close to the Florida reefs for relief from the swift-moving current of the Gulf Stream for as long as possible. Despite sailing one of the lightest and smallest boats in the race, the Michigan crew aboard 35-foot Chico 2 finished fourth over the line and first in PHRF B Class thanks to strong crew work and near-flawless navigation. “This is my first race to Havana, but I’ve run literally two months worth of navigational simulations of the race at home on the computer,” said Tom Anderson, Chico’s navigator. “The real deal was quite a bit wetter, but thanks to the preparation, it was always familiar, and the answer was to avoid the deep water and push the boat hard along the reef.”
Multiple sailing world record holder and round-the-world race veteran Ryan Breymaier agreed that the shallows were the way to go this year, though he said there was nearly a mutiny aboard PHRC C winner Testing Life over it, with some crew thinking an earlier jump into the Stream would pay off. “There was no way we were gybing out while I was calling the navigational shots,” said Breymaier, who kept the big Tartan 46 inside 30 feet of water all the way to Key West. “With the centerboard up, the boat only draws 5 feet, which made it an easy decision to hug the reef,” he said, adding that that final turn only happened after his head hit the pillow for the first time.
It’s rare that a boat’s first-ever ocean race results in the kind of dominant victory Testing Life secured over their Class, but two other Class winners shared the trait: Todd Toensing’s Atlantic 42 catamaran Southern Cross beat her multihull competition by some 7 hours, while the fathers-and-sons crew aboard Michael and Noah Ross’s brand new Hylas 48 Island Sol took the ECRCA Racer/Cruiser Class win by more than an hour despite their first sea miles on the new boat happening on the way to the starting line in Miami. “I’ve mostly sailed dinghies until now, but after seeing what ocean racing is really like, I’m hooked,” said 17 year old Noah. His proud dad said the win was just icing on the cake. “I just feel lucky to have been able to take part in such an epic and well-run race along with my son,” said the elder Ross.
Just one Class winner bucked the Westerly trend, as the big Swan 56 White Rhino squeaked out a victory in the small but hotly-contested IRC Class; just 16 minutes separated the top three entries on corrected time after some 27 hours of racing. “We were pretty sure it wasn’t the right move, but we bore away from the coast anyway simply to ease the strain on the crew from the nasty sea state,” said skipper Todd Stuart. “Fortunately, our entire fleet followed us.”
The fleet will once again show the Cuban public what sail racing is all about on Saturday, with the second annual Castillo Del Morro Race scheduled for a noon start. The racers will start off Marina Hemingway, beating upwind before cracking off to a mark just inside the entrance to historic Havana Harbor under the iconic Morro Castle Light. Once under spinnaker, they’ll stream back to the West along Havana’s famous Malecon with thousands of spectators lining up to see something they’ve only seen once before, during the inaugural event last year. “We were astonished at just how many people made their way to the seafront last year to watch the yachts race by, and it’s one more way we’re trying to share the joy of sailing with the Cuban people,” said Race Chairman Chris Woolsey.
Final, official results for the Miami to Havana Race are available here.
Full photo galleries, interviews, and reports are available on our Facebook page.
March 16, 2017
“We were really going, surfing between 18 and 25 knots about 100 miles off Cuba, and we hit something extremely hard. It spun the rudder around 180 degrees and jammed it backwards, destroying the rudder quadrant and immediately rounding the boat up,” said Simon Says co-skipper Art Santry. The crew jumped into action as the boat started spinning in circles, and within a short time, they freed the rudder, rigged an emergency tiller and got the boat moving toward Cuba again.
Santry said that the team never really got the boat going those speeds again, but he didn’t mind too much – he had other reasons besides competition to make the voyage. “My father raced to Cuba back in the fifties, and he used to tell me how great it was when I was a kid,” explained Santry as he stood alongside daughter Alexa (21) and son Richard (18). “When they announced this race, I knew it would be a terrific way for my kids and I go and see what he was talking about, and that’s why we’re here.
While it’s too early to know will take overall honors across the fleet, an early look at the results shows second-to-finish skipper Michael Hennessy looking a strong favorite. His Class 40 Dragon won the fast PHRF A class already with a corrected time of 1d04h38:10, a number that could see the New York-based skipper crowned the Miami to Havana Race Champion for the second straight year.
Several boats retired to Florida with damage thanks to extremely shifty conditions over the first night of sailing, including the Hobie 33 Rhumbline (rudder damage) and 46-foot catamaran Peregrine (mast step). Ace, Kestrel, and Zingara also retired from the race.
The full fleet should finish over the next 16 hours, after which all the winners will be announced prior to the prizegiving gala at the Club Nautico Internacional De Cuba. More up-to-date finish news can be found at www.facebook.com/sorcsailing.
March 9, 2017
It is with great pleasure and minimal trepidation that we can look upon the calendar and see that the 2017 Miami to Havana Race is upon us. Competitors will gather at Coral Reef Yacht Club on Tuesday, March 14th for check-in, apparel pick up/purchase, a skippers meeting, and a pre-race party, complete with complimentary Mt. Gay Rum, food and a band for your entertainment. All participants are welcome to attend. The SORC Race Committee will get the race underway at around 10 A.M. on Wednesday, March 15, southeast of the Miami harbor entrance, proceeding to the finish off of Marina Hemingway. Club Nautico Internacional Hemingway will host the festivities in Havana, with a welcome party on Friday night, the Castillo del Morro Race on Saturday morning, and an Awards Party on Saturday night.
Watch this page in the coming days, for links to the Kattack Tracker, Race Results and the SORC Sailing Facebook page, where the latest updates and live video from the start will post. The SORC Media crew, (including special guests from the Detroit racing scene to provide running commentary on the event), will again be on the ground in Havana, exploring the boundaries of the improved local wifi capabilities to bring the adventure from Havana to you as it happens. In the immortal words of Commander Caractacus Pott, “never say ‘no’ to adventure.”
February 27, 2017
September 2, 2016
What a Race!
Look for some new faces and boat names to join the party in Havana this year. Both the ORC Class and the new East Coast Racer Cruiser Association (ECRCA) Division are offered in the 2nd Annual Miami to Havana Race, starting on March 15, 2017. ECRCA president Jay Tyson shared “This is the next step in our vision of providing a format that allows dual purpose boats the ability to follow the seasons and participate in great events using the same class rules and rating system”. The ECRCA classes offered for Miami to Havana include:
PERFORMANCE CRUISER CLASS – Open to any boat a full cruising interior and a Downwind Sail Area/Displacement ratio of less than 50.
CRUISER CLASS – Limited to boats using “Cruising Chutes” tacked to the centerline of the boat and DWSA/DISP of less than 34
NON SPINNAKER CRUISER CLASS – Rated Sail Area/Displacement of less than 30.
US Representative for ORC Dobbs Davis spoke about the ORC class inclusion and what it means for the SORC series. “ORC is honored to be asked to help make the revival of the SORC a success. Our involvement with this prestigious series goes back to its roots 40-or more years ago when it was ORC that generated ratings in the IOR system to produce competitive racing. Now the tools are much more sophisticated so that a greater range of boat types can have the same competitive racing while enjoying the joys and challenges of offshore sailing.”
Also on board for 2017 is some help for planning those tactical decisions from the Official Weather Provider and co-Sponsor, Weather Routing Inc. Competitors will have access to state of the art weather forecasting for the race, as well as water temperature data, and weather advisories.
Those new offerings and the new faces they bring should help the Havana Race grow from its highly successful inaugural year, and wrap up the SORC Islands in the Stream Series in roaring Havana fashion once again.
Like ocean racing? Check out other great SORC races.