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Mar 14, 2017 - Category: General

Colin Jackson races to Cuba

Colin Jackson competes in St Petersburgh to Havana Yacht Race

Colin Jackson competes in the St Petersburg to Habana Yacht Race

Colin joined the crew of yacht Fruition a Palmer Johnson 43 one of 75 competitors in four classes to set sail on the 2017 race from St Petersburg to Habana started on Tuesday 28 February to race the 294 miles across the Gulf of Mexico.
The start was delayed due to no wind and moved closer to the Gulf of Mexico for a 12.00 start. The sea breeze filled in and they were off in cruiser Class A, with light winds from the west, down the Florida coast until the end of first day when the wind died and they floated about for the next 30 hours. Thursday morning the wind filled in and made good a final 24 hour sail to the finish on Friday am.

Of the 75 yachts that started Fruition finished 4th in class and 19th overall. 53 yachts failed to complete the race. Two of the yachts to finish ahead in Class A were a £8.6 Million Frers 85 and a £6.3 Million Oyster 75.5. They had decided not to go spin class due to the weather forecast and were placed in Class A which seemed a little unfair.

Colin is pictured in the Hemingway YC Havana with our THYC club burgee that he presented last year.

“Cuba hasn't improved since last year, but staying at a hotel on site was good!”

The History
The St. Petersburg-Habana Yacht Race ran from 1930 through 1959 but was cancelled in 1960 with the deterioration of United States-Cuban relations.
Inspired by the move by President Barack Obama to reach out to Cuba, the St. Petersburg Yacht Club revived the race after a break of 58 years.
At its peak, the original regatta had more than 30 competitors. This year's drew 81 yachts, 75 of them in the competition.
The size of the competing boats was 30 to 120 feet with be an overall champion plus trophies presented to the first to finish in each class: spinnaker, non-spinnaker, multi-hull and cruising.
All but six boats have home ports in Florida, but the crews are made up of an estimated 550 sailors from all over the world — Canada, England, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and South Africa among them.
Winds of political change revived the St. Petersburg-Habana yacht race but Mother Nature's winds didn't cooperate, so most of the main regatta and a second regatta had to be canceled and one yacht crew had to be rescued on the journey home.
Still, winners were declared, and Graycious, captained by John Noble of St. Petersburg, came out on top overall. The yacht finished the 284-nautical mile race that started in St. Petersburg on Feb. 28 in one day and 17 hours.
Of 74 competing yachts that started the race, only 22 remained in contention through the conclusion at Havana's Marina Hemingway.
The lack of wind drove 44 yachts to forfeit and switch to motors in order to make it to the finish line. Another eight chose not to travel past Florida.

Bill Gately Fruitions Skipper sent this report                March 5, 2017

Hello from Marina Internationale Hemingway about nine miles west of Havana. From my cell phone, I am sending this report from Cuba about Fruition's adventures in the St. Pete Yacht Club to Havana Race.
The 2017 Race was scheduled to start 10:00 a.m., February 28,  off St. Petersburg Pier but the winds were so very light the start was moved to east of the Skyway Bridge. With little wind and a strong incoming tidal current the attempt to get under the bridge span was quite tricky (two competitors collided and were subsequently disqualified).
Very light wind continued as we exited Tampa Bay and headed directly south for a sail even more boring than this article. At one point a crew member came on watch and asked if we were approaching Key West: We were 25 miles west of Siesta Key!
Winds would die completely and Fruition would drift in circles. It was quite exasperating to be heading north in a race to Havana due south. We obtained weather reports over our SSB radio indicating continued light winds. If we kept going south to Rebecca Shoal exiting the Shoal into the Florida Straits Loop Current in light air, we would have been carried east by the current for an unplanned vacation in the Bahamas. We veered west, very, very far west to a point 18 miles west of Dry Tortugas.
We took a big, big risk on this "flyer.” We hit the jackpot, however, since the winds freshened as we started our crossing of the strait and we had a "Nantucket Sleigh Ride" directly towards the finish line.
Upon entering the marina we saw all of our competitors securely tied up in their slips, obviously having been there for some time. Woe wus us!  Wa' hoppened? Well, what happened was that only about 20 competitors finished the race, the high tech rocket ships, the mega yachts and tired old Fruition and her equally tired crew. Everyone else dropped out of the race and motored to Cuba. We finished fourth in our class, in good company right behind an 85-foot Frers, a 75-foot Oyster and a hot racing machine with black carbon fiber sails!
A special thanks to Venice Yacht Club member Joe Obermeyer, navigator extraordinaire, who helped us with our strategy before the race, especially our light air tactics.
Bill Gately
Fleet Captain - Sail
P.S.  A front came through and we are stuck here for a few more days learning how to spell "Mojitos."

Return Sail
Colin is now safely back in St Petersburgh despite having to wait 2 days for better weather.  They made it home in 37 hours with half that time on engine power.

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