It’s been nearly six decades since the historic Cuban regatta departed from St. Pete Yacht Club, an institution that has been a part of the community for 107 years. This August, SPYC announced that it would revive the St. Pete-Habana Race, which previously ran from 1930-1959.
St. Pete-Habana race spans 284 nautical miles
The Cuban regatta will see 80 boaters travel 284 nautical miles between the Burg and Cuba. After the race, competitors will enjoy three days of festivities in Cuba, which includes another 12-mile race, before heading back to St. Pete.
“We are excited about the growing number of entrants signing up to participate in this regatta, but I can’t say I’m surprised by this strong show of support,” said Richard Winning, Commodore of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club and lifelong resident of St. Petersburg, in a release. “Growing up here, this regatta was always a big part of the culture of our city. The return of this regatta is as much about the people of St. Petersburg as it is about the St. Petersburg Yacht Club and we are proud to preserve this piece of our community legacy.”
Restored US-Cuba relations brought the event back to life
Recent breakthroughs in US-Cuba relations inspired club officials to reinstitute this historic event. With commercial flights departing from Tampa to Havana, and officials eyeing St. Pete as a potential location for the Cuban Consulate, the return of this race seemed imminent.
At 10am on Feb. 28, over 550 sailors departed the sunny waterfront area of the Burg’s downtown toward the Skyway Bridge and out into the open seas. Boats will sail one to two days and arrive in Havana on Thursday, March 2.
Separate 16 mile regatta begins at the Hemingway Marina
Once there, the sailors will enjoy the country’s hospitality at the Hemingway Marina through Sunday, March 5. The activities include a separate, 16 mile regatta with the locals that runs from Hemingway Marina to the Morro Castle.
“All of us at this Yacht Club are looking forward to seeing the historic race re-launch next week, and solidifying the exchange of fellowship between the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, Pinellas County and the City of St. Petersburg, along with the Cuban government and the yachting world,” said the St. Petersburg Yacht Club’s former Commodore, Richard Winning, whose father was Commodore when the race last sailed in 1959.