Outdoors

Key West-Cuba race starts Sunday

Sailing teams racing monohulls and multihulls are to compete in races from the Florida Keys to two Cuban cities during the 13-day Conch Republic Cup. The event, also known as Key West Cuba Race Week, starts Sunday and continues through Feb. 3.

Entrants will race from Key West to Cuba’s Varadero, then to Havana and then back to the Southernmost City. It’s the second Conch Republic Cup since U.S. tensions eased with Cuba in December 2014.

Key West Cuba Race Week is a four-part series with three distance legs that form a triangle between Key West, Varadaro and Havana. Twenty-five boats in three classes (PHRF spinnaker, PHRF non-spinnaker, multihull) and six support vessels with more than 200 sailors to represent more than 13 states are competing.

Hosted by the Key West Community Sailing Center and Cuba’s Hemingway International Yacht Club, the race is a triangle: A 100-mile adventure from Key West to Varadero, a 90-mile race from Varadero to Havana and a 90-mile leg from Havana to Key West.

Race days are Jan. 24 with a 5 p.m. start from Key West to Varadero. On Jan. 26, sailors race from Varadero along the Cuban coastline to Havana and Hemingway Marina. On Jan. 29, a Havana Harbor buoy race at Morro Castle and a yacht parade along the Malecon are scheduled. Sailors race from Havana to Key West on Feb. 2 and an awards celebration is scheduled Feb. 3 in Key West.

In the 2016 Cup, 435 sailors on 54 boats represented 25 states and five countries in the largest crossing of racing vessels and sailors since U.S.-Cuba relations began normalization. South Carolina skipper Eddie Evans, a 40-plus year veteran sailing his Beneteau Oceanis 381 yacht, won the 2016 Cup and will defend in 2017.

For the full schedule, visit www.conchrepubliccup.org.

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