Commodore José Miguel Díaz Escrich, president of the International Hemingway Nautical Club of Cuba, and Peter Goldsmith, of Geslin Sails, opened the tenth edition on Monday of the Republic of the Concha Regatta in the Marina Hemingway of the Cuban capital. The presentation is as part of the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Villa de San Cristóbal de La Habana.
A total of 16 boats, which had sailed from Key West began arriving at the Hemingway Marina in Havana during the early hours of April 29.
Since 1997, Goldsmith and Díaz Escrich embraced the idea of reestablishing these regattas that date back to 1930, the year in which the first of those races between Cayo Hueso and Havana took place. The traditional regatta was suspended in 2003 by mandate of President George W. Bush, and was restarted with the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2015.
As revealed at the press conference, this year’s edition underwent important changes. First, the race was moved to the end of April, unlike last year when it took place in the month of January and the weather conditions forced the organizers to suspend it.
The change of date to late April led to more favorable weather conditions, a more stable maritime environment and good winds for the race to take place.
Secondly, the organizers partnered up with Evalena Worthington and her Schooner Wharf Bar & Grill team. For a long time, this picturesque place has been considered the favorite bar for sailors in Key West, and has a long history as the oldest waterfront bar in the city.
The third change to take place was the cancellation of the race back to Key West and that, unlike in previous years, the arrival to the Marina Varadero was ignored because it was recently included in the list of Cuban entities sanctioned by the Office of Control of Foreign Assets of the United States Department of the Treasury.
Instead, participants in the regatta made the direct crossing between Cayo Hueso and Havana, and will return after completing a group of activities in the Cuban capital.
Precisely in one of these activities, the 16 North American vessels will participate on Saturday, May 4 in a Nautical Parade and Regatta for the 500th Anniversary of Havana. The parade includes the entrance to the Port of Havana and a tour along the Malecón, ending at front of the Castillo del Morro, after passing of the statue of the Christ of Havana.
Two days later, on May 6, those same boats, and others that will join from the United States, to make a safe nautical stop in front of the Castillo del Morro, coinciding with the start of the International Tourism Fair, FITCuba 2019.
According to the press conference, on May 4, when the regatta arrives at the Malecón stop to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the city, the Cayo Hueso-La Habana Rally will start with a total of 14 boats participating. This rally is sponsored by the North American magazines Caribbean Yachting and Cruising World, two prestigious publications related to recreational sailing and yachting.
“All the events that we are carrying out include a nautical stop where all the boats of the regatta that have just arrived, plus a number of boats of the members of the Club, we will go to the port of Havana to greet with love, with friendship and with respect to the maritime history of Havana, the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Cuban capital, “said Commodore Escrich during his speech at the press conference.
“Cuban culture has been part of my life for more than 37 years, 23 years ago we saw the opportunity to get closer to Cuba and over the years I have realized how important this event is for the culture of our people, as well as for the nautical communities of both Cuba and Key West, “said Mr. Peter Goldsmith to those present.
Also present at the press conference were Mrs. Karen Angel, executive director of the race, and Mr. Ted McGee, principal race official.
Despite the setback in the policy towards Cuba that the administration of President Donald Trump has launched, the organizers trust that they will be able to continue with the regatta, since they have a license that falls within one of the twelve categories allowed for the exchanges of American citizens with Cuba.