Bacardi Cup - a special regatta

Louan Zagarino and Harry Walker - Barcardi Cup
Lynn Fitzpatrick
The Bacardi Cup is the only Cuban-born sporting event to survive in the United States. There is no doubt that this is a very special regatta. Every single one of the 234 sailors registered in the regatta can tell you stories about how special the Bacardi Cup is to them, but to some standing on shore or out on the race committee boats it means “over 36 years of sailing in a wonderful event,” said Harry Walker who, at 87 years young, he broke his wrist just days before the regatta. “Not sailing hurts more than the broken wrist,” said Harry.

A trio was responsible for upholding the Bacardi Cup tradition the regatta jumped the Straits of Florida and moved from Havana to Miami. According to Louan Zagarino, who remembers the death of her late husband, Frank Zagarino, as the registration day for the Bacardi Cup, not the calendar date. “We owe it all to Tito (Bacardi), Frank (Zagarino), Ding (Schoonmaker). For years, there was no entry fee. Oh, I used to know what Bacardi spent, but my lips are sealed. Tito has always been so generous. Whatever, Frank and Ding wanted, Tito made sure it happened.”

Tito Bacardi only wanted the best to be associated with the BACARDI name. He wanted everybody to remember the halcyon days of Cuba – high society, music, dancing, culture, gambling, food and drink, but most of all, sportsmanship. “We lost a lot of physical assets when we left Cuba. One of the things that we could keep was the race. The Bacardi Cup regatta meant a lot to the family and the company while we were reconstructing our lives and the business. It was one of the things that we could keep and the sailors followed the regatta,” reflected Tito.

For Cuban American sailor, Augie Diaz, the Bacardi Cup Regatta is “Huge,” second only to the Worlds in terms of sailing and the prestige that comes with winning it.” Augie came close to winning the regatta in the mid-1980’s with Marshall Duane. When asked if that would have been one of the most significant victories of his career, the guy who has held every title there is to win in the Snipe class and has been a top contender in FD’s and the Stars, emphatically replied, “Oh, Yes!”

“I was too young to remember the event in Cuba, but it was THE EVENT. It has always been such a big event that it was not about where it was held. The Bacardi Cup transcended its location. BACARDI was able to keep alive Cuba in the 1950’s – the last time that you could fly in from anywhere in the world and have non-stop partying and sailing. The Bacardi Cup brings out the best sailors,” said Diaz.

Tito Bacardi and Augie Diaz - Barcardi Cup
Lynn Fitzpatrick
From all of us who have been involved in one or many Bacardi Cups – Thank you Frank, Ding, and especially Tito and Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.

The legendary Bacardi Cup, ranked as one of the best international sailing regattas in the world, is sponsored in full by Bacardi U.S.A., Inc. and co-hosted by the Coral Reef Yacht Club and the U.S. Sailing Center in Miami, FL. What started out in 1927 as a three-day event with less than 10 boats in Havana, Cuba, now attracts more than 200 sailors each year from some 25 countries and remains one of the few sporting events in which weekend enthusiasts have the opportunity to compete head on with Olympians and World Champion athletes.