PILAR regatta from Key West to Varadero in December

Conch Harbor, Key West

Conch Harbor, Key West

HAVANA, Sept 14 The dismantling of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba has brought with it a wave of opportunities for travelers and sports enthusiasts alike, among them the first offshore race between the countries in decades.

The first annual Pilar Regatta will set sail from Key West, Fla., to Veradero, Cuba, Dec. 3, 2015. The race committee and judges are composed of representatives of US SAILING and the Cuban Sailing Federation. Registration for the event is ongoing through Oct. 1, 2015.

“It’s been over 40 years since the American flag has flown from a U.S. Embassy in Cuba,” said Ken Johnson of Pilar Regatta race management. “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.havana-live-pilar

“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. The Notice of Race, registration forms and further information on the Pilar Regatta can be found at www.regattadecuba.com.