Please select your home edition
Edition
RS Sailing 2020 - RSSS - LEADERBOARD

A Q&A with Karen Angle about the 2017 Conch Republic Cup race to Cuba

by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor on 23 Jan 2017
2016 Conch Republic Cup Overall Winner Naut-On Call Priscilla Parker
One of the coolest aspects of distance racing is the ability to start a race in one nation and finish in another. Not surprisingly, international races of this kind often foster good nature between different countries while helping to facilitate racecourse camaraderie between sailors. For racers, it’s especially cool to receive an “arrived by sea” passport stamp, which is something not many international travelers can tout in the year 2017. It’s cooler still if the country in question was once considered forbidden fruit (at least for U.S.-based sailors).

If you’re like me and have arrived at saturation with winter’s cold rain and snow, take a moment to imagine yourself and your friends racing to Cuba as part of a 13-day cross-cultural sailing event that’s designed to lower barriers of entry at a time when some Americans see a need for taller walls.



Sound good? If so, say hello to the Conch Republic Cup, which takes place from January 22 to February 3, 2017, and offers sailors an opportunity to race across the Gulf Stream from Key West, Florida to Varadero, Cuba. This offshore leg is followed by an inshore race from Varadero to Havana. Once in Havana, sailors participate in the Castillo Del Morro Triangle Race and Parade along the Malecon, which is a wide esplanade that fronts the water in Cuba’s most famous city and stretches for five seaside miles. Then, sailors face the Gulf Stream once more as they race from Havana back to Key West.

The 2016 Conch Republic Cup saw 435 lucky sailors, racing aboard 54 boats, travel from the USA to Cuba, making it the largest crossing between these two countries since relations started normalizing. This year’s scratch sheet shows that 25 boats have entered, ranging from Seth Salzmann’s 68-foot schooner Irony to Vahn Lewis’ Corsair F28R Orion’s Belt.



I caught up with Karen Angle, executive director of the Conch Republic Cup, to learn more about this exciting event and the adventures and cultural opportunities it affords.

From a sailing perspective, what do you anticipate being the events’ highlights?
The challenge of crossing the Gulf Stream and arriving in a previously forbidden location.



What about from a cultural perspective? What should first-timers be looking forward to?
[Cuban] culture is very rich and the people are friendly. There is live music everywhere. The sights that we all know are incredible to see such as the Morro Castle, waking in Old Havana, and tasting real Cuban cuisine. The architecture is incredible and [is] far [grander] than expected. I am sure the first-timers are looking forward to cigars, rum, and riding in old cars but there is so much more than that which they will soon realize.

Do you see this event more as an offshore race, an inshore regatta, a cultural experience or a blend of all three?
We are the only event at this time that blends all three.

Entry numbers are off this year compared to last year—any idea what might be driving this?
Everyone is doing a race or rally to Cuba now. It also seems that the many racers only want to go one way, then be at their leisure to make their way back to the U.S. We are the only race the does a return leg and a Cuban coastal race, which may not appeal to the racer that merely wants to arrive and move on the next race. Ours is truly more challenging to compete in, as well as [to] organize.



Given U.S.-Cuban history and the arrival of a new administration in Washington D.C., are you and the other event organizers concerned for the event’s long-term viability and legality?
Not at all.

Anything else that you’d like to add, for the record?
Interesting factoid-Miami and Havana’s economies were equal in 1950. Draw your own conclusion about which city you would like to visit today and where you might find the most culture.

Rooster 2020 - Impact BA - FOOTERHenri-Lloyd 2020 FOOTERUpffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW FOOTER

Related Articles

How will they set the (dis) comfort cursor?
The challenges of trying to live and run a foiling IMOCA to the maximum After finishing second in the Vendée-Arctique-Les Sables d'Olonne race Charlie Dalin pulled no punches when he described the challenges of trying to live and to operate to the maximum on board his foiler APIVIA.
Posted today at 8:24 am
America's Cup Rialto: Defiant's 'glamour day'
After a batten failure, American Magic headed back out for a three hour plus sail on a 'glamour day' After losing an hour or so through gear failure, American Magic headed back out onto the Waitemata for a training session out on Course E - between Eastern Beach and Waiheke Island, otherwise known as "The Paddock".
Posted today at 2:50 am
World Sailing AGM to be held electronically
Plus nominations are open for election of Board of Directors World Sailing will hold its 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM) and General Assembly electronically, due to the global challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Posted on 5 Aug
Atlantic Crossing OBR Report #1
Onboard update from Amory as the team closes out their third day at sea Onboard update from Amory Ross as the team closes out their third day at sea for their Atlantic crossing training sail from France to Newport, RI.
Posted on 5 Aug
Mirabaud Sailing Video of the Century jury named
Special edition will reward the best films from 2000 to today! Two women and four men make up the international jury of the Mirabaud Sailing Video of the Century: Ludovica Anti, Martina Orsini, Rob Peake, Gary Jobson, Nicolas Mirabaud and Rob Faris.
Posted on 5 Aug
David Sussmann debriefs the Pure Ocean Challenge
A Q&A with David Sussmann about his experiences in the 2020 Pure Ocean Challenge I checked in with David Sussmann, founder of Pure Ocean, via email, to learn more about his experiences, observations, and data-collection efforts during the 2020 Pure Ocean Challenge.
Posted on 5 Aug
Zhik appoints Plastimo as distributor
To expand trading in France, Belgium and the French domestic territories Zhik is proud to announce a collaboration with Plastimo, the prestigious marine industry safety manufacturer and equipment wholesaler, as their new distributor for France, Belgium and the French domestic territories.
Posted on 5 Aug
America's Cup: Arb Panel rules on CIC application
The Arbitration Panel for the America's Cup has ruled on the Stars + Stripes' application The Arbitration Panel for the America's Cup has rules against the application made to it by the US Challenger Stars + Stripes Team USA.
Posted on 5 Aug
San Diego Olympic Classes Regatta preview
Third running of event limited to single-handed classes The San Diego Olympic Classes Regatta was established in 2018 to provide sailors of all ages with a venue to train and compete in international, high performance classes.
Posted on 4 Aug
Edgartown Race Weekend's Round-the-Island Race
Former Secretary of State John Kerry wins Venona Trophy Former Secretary of State John Kerry (Chilmark, Mass.) claimed the coveted Venona Trophy at Edgartown Race Weekend's 82nd 'Round-the-Island Race, sailing his classic Alden Cutter 44 Lark to win his class
Posted on 4 Aug