Sunday, April 3, 2016

CARINTHIA's Adventure to Havana, Cuba!

J/120 Carinthia crew enjoy Havana, Cuba taxi cab (Havana, Cuba)- Here is the official J/120 CARINTHIA Miami to Havana, Cuba race report- from Frank Kern.  “Since it was never done before, there were a lot of things that had to be invented for this race. For instance, a special Coast Guard permit was needed to enter Cuban waters as there is still officially an embargo. Race Chairman Chris Woosley got together with the right people to help the owners get that squared away. Communication with the outside world was really difficult as the internet connections were hard to get and unreliable. When we landed the Cuban officials took my satellite phone and sealed it, saying phoning from Cuba was strictly forbidden!! The following day I did phone home in secret to wish my daughter a happy birthday and to assure the outside world we were all fine.

J/120 Carinthia sailing Miami to Havana, Cuba- courseCarinthia's strategy for the race was to get as close as possible to the Florida Keys to stay out of the current. The start was under 5 knots out of the north, not exactly ideal J/120 conditions. At Elbow Key #6 the rhumb line peels off to Havana and we stayed more north of it but started going more southwest. Fortunately the winds continued more northernly at about 10 to 15 knots as our course became more westerly. We jibed south in 20 knot wind when we got in the teeth of the a 3 knot gulf current and jibed back about 2 miles off of Cuba at Matanzas. To our pleasant surprise we got about a 1 knot push which helped us with the competition.  From what I saw on the tracking Dragon, a Class 40, stayed north until Key West and then jibed south directly to Havana. We soon finished at 20:40 just after sunset. In the end, they beat us by 18 minutes corrected time, which is pretty close considering how long the race was. Was this ideal conditions for a Class 40 vs. a J/120?  Was it 'courses for horses'? Who knows, as they did sail a nearly perfect race and after all they did take home the gold. My congrats to these guys for doing what J/120 Carinthia crew sailing Miami to Havana, Cubawas needed to win. We still managed to finish 1st in class B, 2nd overall. It was a great cap to our winter SORC season as we finished 2nd in the Islands in the Stream series.

Marina Hemingway was a very nice harbor and I found the people there very accepting of Americans. We were glad we stayed to see a little of Havana. The Cubans are very poor but there are cracks showing it may improve. A lot has been said about the old cars and most are privately owned. It makes a great way for the locals to make some cash. Hotel space here was very difficult to get, some competitors were able to find space with AirBNB. I also heard many bathrooms did not have toilet seats, probably a symptom of communism.  I know some boats dropped out of sailing here because of all the red tape BS, but it was worth it. Certainly, this was a bucket list race. When this thing comes up next, I highly recommend doing it!!”