Tuesday, August 02, 2016

St. Petersburg Yacht Club revives its once-annual regatta to Cuba

St. Petersburg Yacht Club revives its once-annual regatta to Cuba
Times Staff Writer

TAMPA — The St. Petersburg Yacht Club said Monday that it will re-launch
its once-annual regatta to Havana. Named "The St. Petersburg- Habana
Race," the event starts February 28 from the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.

The 284-nautical mile journey will end on March 4 at the Morro Castle of
the Havana Regatta.

"Our vision is to create a fellowship between the Tampa Bay area, Cuba
and the entire yachting world," said Richard Winning, commodore of the
club. His father, also named Richard Winning, was commodore in 1959, the
last year of the St. Petersburg regatta to Havana.

Already more than 70 boaters have expressed interest in participating,
said Winning.

Boaters can now sign up at

Among the racers may be a joint team made up of students from the
University of South Florida's College of Marine Science and its Patel
College of Global Sustainability plus marine biology students from the
University of Havana.

Patel College is engaged in an exploratory partnership with a Cuban
counterpart focusing on marine science research.

The first collaboration is underway in the form of another type of
maritime race.

The universities jointly sponsored a participant in the Tour de Turtles
that began August 1.

More than a dozen sea turtles from throughout the world are tagged and
tracked as they leave their native nesting beaches — including Florida's
— for migration. Whichever makes it the farthest at the end of 90 days
is the winner.

The purpose of this race is to bring attention to the worldwide
endangerment of sea turtles.

Over the weekend, Patel College also co-sponsored the St. Petersburg
visit of Alejandro Padrón, Cuba's consular general from its embassy in
Washington, D.C., and his second in command, Armando Bencomo.

While the big news of the delegation's visit was their interest in St.
Petersburg for a consulate, they also met with Patel College to discuss
future steps in the relationship with the University of Havana and
possibly other Cuban educational institutions.

It was during those meetings they talked about co-sponsoring a student
team in the St. Petersburg-Habana Race.

"This is about coming together to address common marine life issues,"
said David Randle, a professor with the Patel College. "We hope to make
an impact."

Both the yacht race and the USF partnership are a sign of the evolving
relationship with Cuba.

From 1930 to 1959 the regatta was an annual event that brought
international recognition to the area.

But the contest was cancelled following the rise of Cold War-era
communism in Cuba.

"With relations better and the race beginning, it feels like everything
has come full circle," Commodore Winning said.

USF was once banned from partnerships with Cuba due to Florida statutes
forbidding state money from being used to interact with a nation lacking
diplomatic relations with the United States or that was designated a
sponsor of terrorism by the State Department.

Cuba once fell under both categories. Today, neither applies.

Dan Whittle, who directs the New York-based environmental advocacy group
Environmental Defense Fund's marine and coastal conservation projects in
Cuba, said these maritime partnerships are a perfect way to begin this
new era engagement.

"Sharks, turtles, fish and other marine life move freely across borders.
Marine science has shown clearly that the body of water between the U.S.
and Cuba is what connects us, not divides us."


Source: St. Petersburg Yacht Club revives its once-annual regatta to
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