Return of the St Pete – Ft Laud Race

Published on June 14th, 2023

During the heyday of the IOR handicapping system, there was no better place to be than racing in the Southern Ocean Racing Conference, also known then as the SORC or Southern Circuit. Six midwinter races in Florida waters tested new designs with ‘rock stars’ from around the world… it was a serious fashion show.

The SORC lives on today as an ocean race management entity, with its Islands in the Stream Series seeking to rekindle some of the past excitement. For the 2023-24 schedule, they are going old school by returning to Florida’s west coast… here’s the update:

The St. Petersburg to Fort Lauderdale Race, a 403 nm race that captivated the sailing world in SORC from 1941 to 1990, is making a comeback. The prestigious race, once hailed as one of the world’s major oceanic challenges, is the first event of an SORC “Classic” Series in 2023-2024.

In its prime, St. Pete – Lauderdale attracted a fleet of 134 boats, showcasing the spirit of competition and adventure over a challenging course. Many sailors are eagerly anticipating its return, with ORC and PHRF rated boats expected to converge in Tampa Bay from the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, the East Coast and even Europe.

The race starts on November 8 with St. Petersburg Yacht Club hosting. As a precursor to the main event, a feeder race from Pensacola Yacht Club begins on November 2.

Sailors will compete for the LL ‘Lew” McMasters Memorial Trophy last awarded in 1988. Past victors include two time winners Ted Turner sailing American Eagle and Dora IV, and Ted Hood on Robin. Dennis Connor was also victorious sailing Stinger.

“Working with SORC and Storm Trysail Club to expand offshore racing in the Gulf of Mexico, I am thrilled to be able to offer this iconic event to sailors,” reports Race Chairman Chris Lewis. “We will have some ‘retro’ shore gear available and based upon the initial enthusiasm; many past competitors are expected to show up on the start line.”

Entries are expected from PHRF cruisers, multihulls, past SORC winners such as Kenai and Zig Zag, all the way up to the TP52s and even a Maxi.

2023-24 Islands in the Stream Series
November 8 – St Pete – Ft Laud Race – St. Petersburg to Ft. Lauderdale
December 1 – Wirth Munroe Ocean Race – Miami to Palm Beach
January 11 – Nassau Cup Ocean Race – Miami to Nassau
February 22 – Ft. Lauderdale – Key West Race – Fort Lauderdale to Key West

For the Notice of Series, click here.

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