Visit Pensacola

Countdown to Conch Republic Cup

Published on January 4th, 2016

The 8th edition of the Conch Republic Cup (CRC) has scheduled a 9 day event which includes three cities in Cuba and the USA. With 3 distance races and 2 inshore races planned, the competition commences when 55 entrants start on January 28 in Key West, FL for the 96nm course across the Florida Straits to Cuba. The event is being sponsored by Club Nautico International Hemingway De Cuba and the Key West Yacht Club.

For the first time in regatta history, Commodore Jose Escrich of Club Nautico International Hemingway De Cuba plans to attend ace start in the South West Channel off Key West. This will be the first time that the Commodore has been in the United States for the start of such a race. There will be five starts for the five separate classes which include 2 racing mono hull classes, cruising class, multi hulls and a schooner class.

Commodore Escrich has also petitioned the Cuban Ministry Of the Interior on behalf of several Cuban-born American citizens who wish to participate in the Conch Republic Cup. This would mark the first time in decades that a Cuban-born American has been able to enter their home country by boat. Three of these people would be traveling aboard their own boats while several more will crew on the vessels of others.

Shake-A-Leg, Miami, an organization providing waterfront access in Miami for children & adults of all abilities, has entered the 60-foot wheelchair accessible custom catamaran ‘Impossible Dream’.

The list of participating yachts has grown to include several boats also competing in Quantum Key West Race Week being held January 18-22 and a couple of them going on to the Miami to Havana race, February 10-13. The full list of participants can be found on

The CRC race management team has grown to include Jeff Zarwell (International Race Officer) from Regatta Pro as PRO, Forrest Gay on mark boat, Hal (National Race Officer) and Sally Smith on finish and scoring and Lauther Parker from Charleston as race committee and equipment manager along with many more. Randy Draftz, Executive Director of Charleston Race Week, has been instrumental in helping to gather this team, arrange the equipment, and Randy will be our stateside support to relay finish statistics to Yacht Scoring for everyone to follow along.

Schedule of Events
Race Headquarters will be at Dante’s 951 Caroline St., Key West

January 27th
4:30-6:30 check in at Dante’s
5:30 Skippers Meeting
6-8 Welcome Party

January 28th
10:30-12:30 check in at Dante’s
5pm Race Start Key West Harbor – Michele Geslin Memorial Cup – Key West to Varadero (approx 96 Nautical Miles)

January 29th
Arrival in Varadero at Marina Gaviota

January 30th
5pm Skippers meeting (For both Varadero Cup and Cuba Coast Challenge)
6pm Welcome party at Marina Gaviota

January 31st
10am Race Start – Varadero Cup – Buoy Races
6pm Awards Party for Michele Geslin Memorial Cup and Varadero Cup

February 1st
10am Race Start – Cuba Coast Challenge- Varadero to Havana (approx. 77 Nautical Miles)
Arrival in Marina Hemingway

February 2nd
5 pm Skippers meeting (for both Castillo Del Morro Cup and Havana to Key West Cup)
6pm Welcome Party at Marina Hemingway

February 3rd
10 am Race Start – Castillo Del Morro Cup – Buoy Races
6 pm Awards Party for Cuba Coast Challenge and Castillo Del Morro at Marina Hemingway

February 4th
Lay Day

February 5th
5pm Race Start – Havana to Key West Cup (approx. 99 Nautical Miles)

February 6th
Arrival in Key West and customs check in
6 pm Awards Banquet at Dante’s for Havana to Key West Cup and Overall Trophy for Conch Republic Cup

About The Conch Republic Cup
For what began in 1997 as a cordial invitation from Commodore Escrich to the Key West Sailing Club (as it was known at the time) to resume our annual race to Varadero from the 1970s, this has become an epic event. The KWSC Fleet Captain at the time was Peter Goldsmth who, upon receiving the invitation stated “I don’t care what anybody thinks, I just want to sail my boat to Cuba.” The 1997 and 1998 race continued as the previous races had been run. Then in 1999 Commodore Escrich proposed this multi race format we use today. The 5 race series of the Conch Republic Cup was run by Peter Goldsmith and his partner Michele Geslin for the entire 7 year with the last such event being held in 2003. At this time, with the “encouragement” of the US Government this regatta was discontinued. Recent developments and policy changes within the US – Cuba relations normalization have once again made it possible to continue our annual “Cultural Exchange Through Sport” after a 13 year hiatus. We look forward to re-establishing this bond with our Cuban neighbours by continuing our maritime traditions in the 2016 running of this event.

comment banner


Back to Top ↑

Get Your Sailing News Fix!

Your download by email.

  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We’ll keep your information safe.