Skip to content

Race to the Forbidden Island

The Havana Challenge, a 90-mile race for Hobie 16 beach cats, got the official okay in April. The two-person catamarans will cross to Cuba where the Americans will challenge the Cuban Olympic Sailing Team and the Cuban National Sailing Team, explore the long-forbidden Caribbean island, participate in a cultural exchange — and then race home to Key West.

Hobie cats race through the Straits of Florida on their way to Cuba in the 1990s.

© 2015 Havana Challenge

The events begin this Wednesday, May 13, with a welcome rally at Schooner Wharf in Key West, followed by a skippers’ meeting and party on Thursday night. On Friday, all the little cats will sail the Gulf Stream Shakedown, approximately 15 miles south from Key West. They’ll round a race committee boat and return to the starting beach. While competing in the shakedown race, crews will have a last opportunity to test communication and safety gear, sailing characteristics under racing loads, and sailing techniques just prior to jumping off for Havana at dawn on Saturday. The finish will be in Hemingway Marina. Schooner racing, more cat racing, ceremonies and partying in Havana will occupy the next few days before the return race on Thursday the 21st. Closing ceremonies and yet more partying will wrap up the event on Friday at Turtle Kraals in Key West.

See for complete details. It’s not too late to enter!

Key West to Havana, so close and yet so distant.

© 2015 NOAA

In a related story, ferry service from Florida to Cuba was approved on May 5. CubaKat plans to start operating ferries beginning this September, with daily trips between the Keys and Havana. See

Leave a Comment