Gonzo report from Miami to Havana Race

The J/105 Gonzo from Chicago was sailed by Ed Reagan and his team in the inaugural Miami to Havana Race this year that finished in the historical Hemingway Harbor in Havana, Cuba. Here is Ed's report on their experience: "We sailed aboard Gonzo, our J/105, co-captained by myself and Ken Ganch with a total crew of eight in the Miami to Havana race. It started in lighter winds right outside of government cut on a beautiful Florida day, albeit it was cooler than usual with a cold front heading in. That was welcome news as were all heading south veering southwest as the fleet headed down the keys so North winds were favorable and were forecast to go Northeast at some point. There were also fairly cold temperatures forecast for the first night but fortunately the water was warm. The route from Miami to Key West takes you south and you constantly turn to the west keeping outside of the reefs, which are well marked along the entire stretch of the Keys. On our port side was the Gulf stream, so you have a narrow band in which you want to sail to avoid sailing against the Gulf Stream that is running counter to our course at up to 6 kts! One of the most strategic decisions is where and when to cross the Gulf Stream. As the first afternoon went on, the winds steadily built along with the waves. There were long periods with sustained wind speeds 15-25 knots and the Gulf Stream varied but seemed to have reached 4-5 knots at that time according to our readings. The challenge was to get through it as efficiently as possible and then, hopefully, catch a counter-current closer to the coast of Cuba that was still heading west. The moon was very small and the stars were brilliant the first night when we were crossing the Gulf Stream. Wind speeds maintained all through the next day and into night when we finally saw Cuba at dusk. The winds died down only for the last 50 miles and we sailed along the length of Havana and finished right about midnight. We took second in PHRF C and eighth overall! Imagine that!? A Chicago boat collecting silverware for placing in a race to Havana. That's awesome! Hemingway Club Nauticio in Havana hosted the fleet with excellent facilities and the staff was gracious and welcoming. There was a race along the Malecon on Sunday but winds were very strong and only a handful of boats completed the race after several dropped out. Overall for us, it was an amazing experience and hope others do the same in the future!"

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