Key West-to-Cuba sailboat race returns in January

The annual Conch Republic Cup Key West Cuba Race Week is returning as relations between the United States and Cuba stabilize.
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The annual Conch Republic Cup Key West Cuba Race Week, which the U.S. government stopped after the 2003 edition, is returning as relations between the United States and Cuba stabilize.

The tradition began in 1997 as a race hosted by the Key West Sailing Club (now the Key West Yacht Club) with a race from Key West to Varadero, Cuba, at the invitation of Commodore Jose Migel Diaz Escrich of Club Nautico International, Marina Hemingway.

Race organizers Peter Goldsmith and Michele Geslin coordinated with their Cuban counterparts for some time to create the event.

For the 1999 edition Escrich suggested a series of races consisting of this original race as a first leg. Racing was then extended to include a buoy race in Varadero, another distance race from Varadero to Marina Hemingway in Havana and lastly a race from Havana back to Key West. This format continued annually through 2003.

The new lease on tradition will begin on Jan. 27 with a welcome reception at a location to be determined in Key West and will finish with the awarding of the Conch Republic Cup at a Feb. 6 ceremony in Key West.

This year a parade of sail will take place in front of the historic Malecon parkway in Havana.

Applications need to be received by Oct. 16 because of the logistics of government permitting. Final crew lists are due Jan. 2.

Click here for the full release and click here for the race rules.

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