The racing and sailing community has been on the forefront of newsworthy events that characterize the normalization of relations between the US and Cuba – not surprising considering Cuba’s 3,000 miles of coastline and 4,200 islets and keys.
The first annual Pilar Regatta will set sail from Key West, Fla., to Veradero, Cuba, Dec. 3, 2015. The race committee and judges are drawn from US SAILING and the Cuban Sailing Federation. Registration for the event is ongoing through Oct. 1, 2015.
The Marina Gaviota in Varadero and Conch Harbor in Key West are superior marine facilities with 110 volt power, water, Wi-Fi in the marinas, the maximum water depth is four meters with slips up to 30 meters in length. Jackie Grande from Kegonsa Regatta race management and Ken Johnson from the Lake Kegonsa Sailing Club have been to Varadero, met with representatives of the Varadero Yacht charters and Marina Gaviota. Both Ken and Jackie are off shore sailors. Jackie will be organizing the paperwork and Ken will be sailing in the regatta.
“It’s been over 40 years since the American flag has flown from a U.S. Embassy in Cuba,” said Johnson. “For sailors this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be the first to sail and see old Cuba and visit Marina Gaviota in Varadero, the first class facility of Cuban ports.”
Pilar Regatta events include a VIP welcoming party at Conch Harbor Marina, Key West, Fla., an awards ceremony in the over-the-water Marina Gaviota restaurant and informational meetings between the American racing community and the Cuban Sailing Federation, hosted by Pilar Regatta sponsors.
The regatta is all inclusive. The entry fee will include slips at Conch Harbor, Key West for two nights, Marina Gaviota slips at Varadero, Cuba for three nights, Awards Party in Gaviota, a taxi fleet of 50’s American car taxis in Varadero to tour Cuba for the regatta participants.
“This is the start of new sailing relationship with our Cuban friends,” said Johnson. “And Varadero the city is white beaches – a vacation town for both sailors and Cubans – and a terrific place for sailors to first meet Cuba”
“The initial response to the regatta has been overwhelming from performance sailboats,” said ocean-crossing sailor Jack Yoes, principal race officer of the Pilar Regatta from the Houston Yacht Club. “These boats can sail from Key West to Cuba in hours; it’s easier than sailing from Key West to Miami.”
The race will comply with International Sailing Federation Offshore Category 2 Regulations. Here you can find the Notice of Race, registration forms and further information on the Pilar Regatta.