A Return to Historic Havana
Published on February 10th, 2016
Miami, FL(February 10, 2016) – The last officially sanctioned race from the US to Cuba was in 1959, and for nearly 60 years, sailors from all over America have longed to race to Havana, the legendary port city that helped create the fabled Southern Ocean Racing Conference (SORC). With diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba finally warming in late 2015, officers of the reborn SORC seized the opportunity to bring history alive when they created the inaugural 2016 Miami to Havana Race.
Starting today at 1300 local time, nearly 50 racing yachts from 30 to 70 feet in length will set off across the boisterous Gulf Stream with sights set on the finish line of the first race in history between Miami and Havana. Five classes of racing yachts will brave stiff winter winds and unpredictable currents in their battle for class and overall supremacy on this historic race; it’s not every day a sailor finds their way into the history books.
The Miami to Havana Race has its share of ultra-fast racing yachts on the scratch sheet, but one thing unites every sailor signing on for this great race is a love for adventure. No crew exemplifies this more than Florida’s Dan Goldman and his Hobie 33 Hot Stuff – Powered By 13Fifty Racing, with an average crew age of just 22 years old.
“We were amazed at how easy the SORC organizers made it to enter this race,” said bowman and Collegiate racer Wes Bemus. Goldman agreed: “We got some much-needed help from the 13Fifty racing team, and the toughest part was telling people we didn’t have any room for them, because everyone we know wanted to race to Cuba.”
Despite their collegiate credentials, the Hot Stuff team will face stiff competition from three other identical Hobie 33s racing for more than just historical Havana Race honors; they’re also racing for the Hobie 33 Midwinters Trophy. Current Midwinter champion and Viva Las Vegas skipper Stephen Attard isn’t letting the trophy go without a fight – or a laugh. “Light or heavy, we’re ready for anything, and the forecast says that tomorrow we’re all gonna Have a Hobie Day.”
The Hobie 33s may love big breeze, but for outright speed, length is all-important as the RP 69 Trebuchet hopes to display. “We’re perfectly happy to be the biggest boat in the fleet,” said tactician Geoff Ewenson (Annapolis, MD), adding that his team’s only big worry was finding a space in Havana Harbor deep enough to dock the 69-footers draft of 17-foot. “We’re all excited to be sailing to a brand new venue in Havana; it’s an experience we see all too rarely in sailboat racing.”
Nearly half the entries is coming from outside the Southeast. Longtime Caribbean racer Frank Kern brought his Michigan-based J/120 Carinthia down to Florida for a new challenge. “This is just the thing to bring some life into the winter circuit,” said Kern. “Racing to Havana was just what we needed to motivate us to come down South for another winter.”