St. Petersburg Classic Regatta and St. Pete to Habana

There are moments when you just want to relax on the water, with the wind in your sails. Or listen to the gentle lapping of waves against your boat. Or even simply get from here to there.

And then there are the times when you feel the need for speed. When winning is the only thing that matters.

For those of us who like to match our wits against the wind, we have a fabulous race to look forward to: the St. Petersburg Classic Regatta. It’s one not to miss, even if your perch is dockside, taking in hulls slicing through water, masts tilted at impossible angles.

The St. Petersburg Classic has quickly become one of Tampa Bay’s premier regattas, now in its 8th annual running. Watch for it next January 21, 2017. This exciting, well-attended regatta draws racers from all over the west coast of Florida, even as far afield as Texas. Co-hosted by the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, the weekend-long event is designed as a showcase for older vessels, so only boats 20 and older are allowed to enter. It is reputed to be one of the better-organized races in the area, always maintaining a spirit of fun, camaraderie, and generosity.

You can feel good about participating in this one, too: The event is actually a fundraiser for local nonprofit Meals on Wheels of Tampa, which delivers fresh, nutritious meals to elderly folks in the area. Last year the regatta raised a hefty $17,800 for the organization.

For event participants, free dockage is available at the historic St. Petersburg Yacht Club, and there’s an awards dinner and party on the evening after the event at the lovely St. Petersburg Sailing Center. Last year 46 yachts finished the course, and this year could bring even more.

And… in a nostalgic return to the past, the St. Petersburg Yacht Club is reinstating the historic St. Petersburg-to-Habana race, which began in 1930 during the depths of the Great Depression and Prohibition. At the time, St. Pete was a sleepy town on Tampa Bay, slightly envious of the roaring, sophisticated nightlife in Havana, where rum ran free and music soared. Obviously history intervened, but now that our two countries are normalizing relations, the club decided to bring back the fabled race. It is scheduled for February 28, 2017 to March 5, 2017.

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