Please select your home edition
Edition
Melges IC37 2019 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.

Marine Resources 2019 - FooterSOUTHERN-SPARS-OFFICIAL-SUPPLIER-52-SS728-X-90 BottomMelges 14 2019 Footer

Related Articles

Resolute Cup returns to dual-fleet format
With addition of RS21 Keelboat in 2020 The Resolute Cup, a Corinthian championship for U.S. yacht clubs, will return to its original format in 2020, utilizing two fleets of keelboats for the sixth edition of this signature biennial competition.
Posted today at 2:22 pm
North U 2020 Winter Seminars
Learn from the best and gain the skills you need to win When your boat handling is second nature and your boat speed second to none, then tactics will win you races. North U Tactics and Sail Trim programs give you the skills you need to win.
Posted today at 12:00 pm
The Clipper Race Leg 5 - Race 6, Day 9
The Doldrums Corridor: the calmer part of the race with windless waters? As the fleet approach north of the Doldrums Corridor, the teams reflect on the decision taken to motor and the tactical advantages and potential disadvantages to the timing of the decision.
Posted today at 11:59 am
America's Cup: Emirates Team NZ's Te Kahu flies
Emirates Team New Zealand today had their first sail in their AC75 test boat Emirates Team New Zealand today completed foiling trials and had their first sail in their AC75 test boat, which was launched last Wednesday.
Posted today at 11:58 am
Crew slots available for Heineken Regatta
Spaces for sailors seeking berths for historic 40th edition of 'Serious Fun' The historic 40th running of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta is rapidly approaching, and you can be there, competing in the blue waters of the Caribbean. What, no boat? No problem!
Posted today at 8:02 am
Island Water World Grenada Sailing Week day 1
Grenada delivered perfect conditions for the first day of racing Racing for the international fleet at Island Water World Grenada Sailing Week started today, Monday 27 January for Pure Grenada Race Day One. Grenada delivered perfect conditions for the first day of racing with 12-15 knots of trade winds
Posted today at 5:32 am
Tom Slingsby set to defend SailGP Championship
Bringing back championship-winning crew to start title defence The one month countdown is on until the world's fastest and most exhilarating sail racing championship - SailGP - returns to Sydney Harbour on February 28-29.
Posted today at 4:14 am
America's Cup: Italians drop rig in Cagliari
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli has dropped her rig while training in Cagliari, Sardinia. Italian America's Cup challenger, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli has dropped her rig while training in Cagliari, Sardinia. "The event took place off Capitana on a beautiful Mistral day around 15 knots", reports SailingSardinia.it
Posted on 27 Jan
Shutters come down on MacGlide Festival of Sails
The TP52 division offered spectacularly close racing Some of the thousands of MacGlide Festival of Sails sailors weary from three days of racing and partying over the Australia Day long weekend are fortunate to be heading home with a trophy for their efforts.
Posted on 27 Jan
2020 EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour Stage 1
Diam24 trimarans race off the white sandy shore of Salalah, Oman The tenth edition of EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour is under way, following a fast and competitive opening stage in Salalah, Oman.
Posted on 27 Jan