Sailors race from St. Pete to Cuba for the first time since 1959

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – For the first time in nearly 60 years, sailors are racing from St. Petersburg to Cuba. The Havana Regatta starts Tuesday at 10 a.m.

Monday, sailors started getting ready for the race. As of early Tuesday morning, 80 boats were registered for the regatta, with more than 550 sailors aboard those boats.

One of those boats is part of the Warrior Sailing Program that helps veterans get out on the water. American Freedom Distillery, run by veterans in St. Petersburg, is sponsoring veterans for this race.

This is an opportunity to go on a sailing trip to Cuba many wouldn’t be able to do other side.

“We kind of feel good as green berets because we get to say, well its the first time anybody’s brought American freedom to Cuba in over fifty years and we’re the ones doing it so, but the big thing is that we get the chance to be together, we get a chance to learn some new skills,” Robert Schaefer, veteran and co-founder American Freedom Distillery, said.

“Being able to go on a sailboat race with some of the guys who really have fought so hard for our freedom I’m honored to be on the boat with them, and looking forward to listening to some of the stories that they’ve got to tell,” veteran Bill Dunham said.

This is a two-day race that involves sailing overnight. This hasn’t been done since 1959.

The race starts at 10 a.m., leaving from St. Petersburg’s waterfront and sailing toward the Skyway Bridge.

Ashley Yore, abc Action News

February 28, 2017

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