U.S.-Cuba regatta seeks to enhance friendship despite setback in bilateral ties

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-23 12:28:26|Editor: Yamei
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HAVANA, March 22 (Xinhua) -- The third edition of the St. Petersburg-Havana regatta is a sign of the will and desire of the U.S. and Cuban people to reverse the current setback in ties, said organizers of the event on Friday.

In a press conference at Havana's Ernest Hemingway Nautical Club, Jose Miguel Diaz, commodore of Cuba's Hemingway Marina, said despite harsh weather in the last few days, the event took place because of the desire to make bilateral relations better.

"We currently live a political climate of tension and the message of yacht and sea lovers from the United States and Cuba is that we want to continue being friends," said Diaz.

Meanwhile, Richard Winning, commodore of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club from the United States, said that the event suggested the empathy that exists between people who love the sea.

"During these last three years we have had a wonderful journey towards this island. This regatta allows us to continue developing the bonds of friendship with the community that loves this sport in Cuba and in the world," said Winning.

A total of 26 boats departed last Tuesday from St. Petersburg Yacht Club in Tampa, on the west coast of the U.S. state of Florida, of which 21 managed to arrive in Havana after traveling 284 nautical miles.

The nearly 110 crew members that completed the oceanic race had to overcome many difficulties, as a cold front in the Caribbean Sea worsened weather conditions.

Despite the storms and strong waves, after only 41 hours, the first boat arrived in Havana and on Thursday afternoon the last yacht anchored at the Marina Hemingway, west of Havana.

"We have really enjoyed making this event and we strive to make it bigger and bigger. We are looking forward to future years in which we can work with the Ernest Hemingway International Nautical Club and with the Cuban people," said George Pennington, president of the St. Petersburg-Havana regatta.

This event dates back to 1930 when it became the first of its kind between the United States and the island, but it was suspended in 1959 because of the Cuban Revolution.

It resumed in 2017, two years after the two nations restored diplomatic links.

U.S.-Cuban relations plummeted after Donald Trump became the U.S. president and rolled back the detente initiated by his predecessor Barack Obama.