St. Petersburg Yacht Club revives its once-annual regatta to Havana

a4s_CUBAYAHTRACE053116_17296398_8colHAVANA, August 2th The St. Petersburg Yacht Club said Monday it will relaunch its once-annual regatta to Havana, taking off from St. Petersburg on Feb. 28 in an era of calmer waters between the United States and Cuba.

 The 284-nautical-mile journey will end four days later at the Morro Castle, an 18th century fortress that guards the mouth of Havana Bay.

Those are the same start and finish lines that marked the course of the original competition held from 1930 to 1959.

Celebratory events will be held in St. Petersburg in the days before the race and in Havana following it.

“Our vision is to create a fellowship between the Tampa Bay area, Cuba and the entire yachting world,” said Richard Winning, commodore of the club. His father, also named Richard Winning, was commodore in the last year of the St. Petersburg regatta to Havana.

The field will be capped at 70 sailboats in four classes. Vessels must be at least 30 feet long.getImage1

Boaters can now sign up at

No prize money has been offered, but plans call for a trophy, and one model is already under consideration. Created by Havana artist Jorge Gil, it is made of wood and titanium and depicts a sailboat.

Under U.S. rules, it is illegal for Americans to visit Cuba for tourism reasons. But they can go to the island if the trip fits into one of 12 categories, such as education, research or sporting events. Boat races are considered sporting events.

Already more than 70 boaters have expressed interest in participating, Winning said.