US, Cuba in first regatta since diplomatic thaw

Screen shot 2015-05-21 at 7.33.39 AMHAVANA (AFP) – Cuban and American sailors competed on Tuesday in the first regatta since their countries’ decision to seek normal ties after more than five decades of Cold War strains.

Featuring five two-person catamarans from each side, the Havana Challenge was the first regatta authorised by the US since 2004 – and the first since the December announcement of the process of normalisation of relations between Cuba and the United States.

“We are the first group of Americans with a permit from the US government with permission to participate in sporting event in the water in Cuba,” sailor George Bellenger told AFP.

He was aboard one of the catamarans – flying tiny US and Cuban flags – speeding just off Havana’s landmark Malecon seafront, in the Caribbean within sight of the Hotel Nacional and the US Interests Section.

The Straits Times, May 20, 2015

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