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New Era for Conch Republic Cup

Conch Republic Cup

With newly thawed relations between the US and Cuba, the Conch Republic Cup (CRC) regatta sails again after a 13 year hiatus. With a warm invitation from Marina Hemingway in Havana, the CRC just completed the Key West Cuba Race Week. With just enough wind but an abundance of Cuban hospitality, a successful cultural and sports exchange was achieved.

A one day weather delay began the 8th Conch Republic Cup. Weather experts and the CRC race committee gave every opportunity for the weather to break and keep racing on schedule but the low pressure system built in the Gulf Stream, making a passage MORE than challenging. The delay was followed by a 5PM start on Friday, January 29th and a pleasant crossing in 12- 17 knots of Easterly breeze and a comfortable 6 foot swell.

Michele Geslin Memorial Cup; Race 1 winners
PHRF A – Naut on Call – Eddie Evans
PHRF B – Bobsled – Bob Moran
Cruising – Diastole – Martin Zonnenberg
Multihull – Little Wing – Ron Boehm
Schooner – When and If – Seth Salzman

That one day delay made for a tight schedule to get racing back on track. After the early morning to mid-afternoon arrival at Marina Gaviota in Varadero Cuba on Saturday, the crews were welcomed with an evening bash. A long slog to the starting area designated by our Cuban host yacht club, Club Nautico International Hemingway de La Havana gave recovery time to all before the race start in view of Varadero Beach. The day’s racing was again followed by festivities at Marina Gaviota which included a large buffet and awards ceremony for races 1 & 2.

Varadero Cup; Race 2 winners
PHRF A – Tie on corrected time:
• Obsession – Norman Church Jr.
• Tohidu – Jay Cook
PHRF B – Perseverance – Bennet Greenwald
Cruising – Sayonara – David and Kristen Buckley
Multihull – Little Wing – Ron Boehm
Schooner – Apella – Daniel Hall

Another quick turn around on Monday had crews checking out of the marina early and headed to the start of the Cuba Coastal Challenge from Varadero to Marina Hemingway, Havana. With over 50 boats checking out and light morning winds, there was double cause for the 1hr 45min delay. This gave way to a steady 8-12 knot breeze through the afternoon and evening with partly cloudy skies and a clear view of the Cuba coast as we headed West in some close quarters coastal dueling. Our finishers were greeted at Marina Hemingway with clear skies and a Jet Ski guide down the entrance channel to the customs dock.

Cuba Coastal Challenge; Race 3 winners
PHRF A – Liberte – David Kilmer
PHRF B – Bobsled – Bob Moran
Cruising – Diastole – Martin Zonnenberg
Multihull – Little Wing – Ron Boehm
Schooner – none participating

Finally a lay day! The hard working crews and even harder working race committee had the chance to visit the real Cuba with bus tours and vintage convertible taxi rides through Havana, the culturally rich and diverse city that has been lost to most Americans for decades. Tuesday evening saw yet another welcome reception at Club Nautico International with Commodore Jose Escrich. Also joining the fleet on this evening was the US Embassy representative, USCG Lieutenant Commander Cromwell. Some of the best live Cuban music and a very succulent roast pig were the featured attraction of the evening,

An updated weather forecast and a new amendment to the Sailing Instructions had crews hustling once again. Weather patterns were changing the race schedule for an early departure this time. The announcement Tuesday evening called for the finish of the buoy race on Wednesday (Feb 3) to also be the start of the Havana to Key West crossing race in order to avoid being shut into Marina Hemingway by northerly fronts. The noon Wednesday start of the Castle de Morro Cup went off in pleasant racing conditions with the picturesque backdrop of the Havana waterfront.

Conditions turned challenging in the afternoon and evening for the crossing home, just the conditions most competitors were looking for to finish off a great week of close racing. 10 foot seas and 17 – 25 knot winds from the east made for a quick passage back to Key West to finish the regatta.

Castle de Morro Cup; Race 4 winners

PHRF A – Naut on Call – Eddie Evans
PHRF B – Perseverance – Bennet Greenwald
Cruising – Cheers – James B. Smith
Multihull – Little Wing – Ron Boehm
Schooner – Apella – Daniel Hall

Havana – Key West; Race 5 winners
PHRF A – Naut on Call – Eddie Evans
PHRF B – Pretty Vegas – Alesjandro Sastre
Cruising – Diastole – Martin Zonnenberg
Multihull – Little Wing – Ron Boehm
Schooner – When and If – Seth Salzman

Overall Winner of the Conch Republic Cup
Charleston racer Eddie Evans and crew on Naut on Call took the Conch Republic Cup overall honors by a narrow 1 point margin over Alesjandro Sastre’s Pretty Vegas of Coconut Grove. The combined total of the three distance races brought forth the best in three ranges of racing conditions.

Event websiteComplete results

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