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    Treasury blocks regatta to Cuba

    By DORAN CUSHING

    © St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000


    There are few topics in American politics as controversial and emotionally charged as the subject of Cuba.

    That controversy extends into the sailing community.

    Following a similar course of action as was taken earlier in the year against Ocean Racing Ventures (ORV) and the Tampa Bay-based Havana Cup, the U.S. Treasury Department in late October issued a "cease and desist" order against Key West Sailing Club organizers who were planning a regatta to Varadero, Cuba.

    After the action, which prohibits Key West from formally organizing the Conch Republic Cup Race Week, a seven-day event that included races to Cuba and back, Key West Sailing Club member Peter Goldsmith said, "We're holding a race to Sand Key. After that, there may be a bunch of boats going to Cuba anyway."

    Goldsmith said Treasury official Hal Harmon advised him of the order Oct. 20, two weeks to the day before the race was to have left Florida for the resort community of Varadero -- some 60 miles east of downtown Havana along Cuba's northern coastline.

    "They have a problem with people organizing these events," Goldsmith said of Treasury Department officials.

    "Harmon told me "I don't want you acting as a travel agent, but I don't have a problem with a bunch of boats going to Cuba,' " Goldsmith said.

    The government action did not specifically restrict the sailors from going, and Goldsmith said some 25 boats, including one from the Tampa Bay area, were not changing their plans.

    Current U.S. regulations do not prohibit travel to Cuba by Americans, but restrictions on spending money in Cuba make such travel difficult unless the visitors are provided "fully hosted" status while in Cuba.

    As in the past, the Conch Republic Cup regatta participants were offered the hosted status during their stay in Cuba, with the customary dockage and visa fees waived to allow compliance with U.S. regulations.

    Havana Cup organizer Jim Duncan, who launched a series of successful races from Tampa Bay to Havana during the last five years, said recently that he is working to obtain the license required by Treasury to organize a future regatta to Cuba.

    He is looking to affiliate with a national charity to carry medical aid to Cuba as a part of the Havana Cup.

    No date has been set for the next Havana Cup, which traditionally sailed from St. Petersburg over the Memorial Day weekend.

    More than 200 boats participating in the 1999 Havana Cup and a similar number were signed up for the race in 2000 before the Treasury Department took action against ORV.

    OLYMPICS: While the U.S. sailing team at the Sydney Games didn't exactly set the world on fire, St. Petersburg can claim at least one Olympic honor based on the medal results.

    Four of the five Olympic classes, which had their qualifying trials on Tampa Bay, left Australia with medals.

    Included on the list of classes, which selected the U.S. representatives at trials hosted in St. Petersburg, were the 470 men's team (silver), 470 women (silver), the 49er (bronze), and 2.4 Meter (Paralympic bronze).

    Only one of the other regional trials, held on the east coast of Florida and in California, resulted in a medal winner. The U.S. Star Class team of Mark Reynolds and Magnus Liljedahltook home the gold.

    NATIONAL HONORS: St. Petersburg resident Tom Farquhar, who volunteers as a racing official in the Northeast during the summer, was the recipient of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club Trophy by U.S. Sailing at its national meeting in October.

    Coincidentally, Farquhar serves as regatta general for the club and the national award, which annually recognizes excellence in race management, is named for the club.

    Farquhar, as principal race officer, and the Beverly Yacht Club were cited for their work with the Shields National Championships at Beverly Yacht Club in Marion, Mass. Farquhar will be working with Pat Seidenspinner of St. Petersburg as principal officers for the Rolex 2000 ISAF Women's World Match Racing Championship in St. Pete. It starts Nov. 25 and continues through Dec. 2.

    Seidenspinner recently began her term as commodore of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. She is serving as the first woman commodore in the club's history.

    YOUTH SAILORS: Zach Railey and Charles Fulmer competed Oct. 28-29 in Seattle, Wash., in the national single-handed championship Cressy Cup.

    Railey, representing Clearwater High School, finished third overall in the 16-boat Laser Class.

    Racing in the Laser Radial Class, Admiral Farragut Academy sailor Fulmer finished ninth.

    Railey and Fulmer had earned a berth to the national finals based on their performances in the South Atlantic district qualifier in Clearwater earlier this year.

    Sailing in the Fort Myers River Romp Junior Olympic event Oct. 21-22, Railey took top honors in the Laser Class with six victories in seven races. Fulmer won the Laser Radial Class.

    Another sailor taking a gold medal in the River Romp was Tampa's Marla Johnson, in the Byte Class.

    Nicholas Nowlan of Clearwater finished second in Optimist Green Fleet, and Fred Skoglund of St. Petersburg took second overall in the 82-boat Optimist Class. Shannon Heausler of Tampa was second in the Optimist Red Fleet.

    Many of the same kids and the older sailors in the Tampa Bay area will be competing in the Davis Island Yacht Club Thanksgiving One-Design Regatta. It is scheduled for Nov. 25-26 on Hillsborough Bay.

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