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St. Pete Yacht Race Is Back After 58 Years

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Morgan Blauth/WUSF
Boats docked at the St. Petersburg Marina

The clinking of champagne glasses and humming of boat motors on Tuesday morning signaled the relaunch of the once-annual yacht race from St. Petersburg to Havana, Cuba.  

The St. Petersburg-Habana Race was last held in 1959, before it was canceled due to strained relations between the U.S. and Cuba during Fidel Castro’s rise to power.

A statement from the St. Petersburg Yacht Club said the club hosted the race again this year in an effort to continue normalizing relations with the country.

Eighty-one sailboats boasting about 550 sailors began the two-day journey: 284 nautical miles from the St. Petersburg Pier to the Marina Hemingway in Havana.

Among the sailors is Gail Poffenberger's 17-year-old daughter Clara. Gail is excited for her daughter to be a part of history.

"They're going to get to step foot in Cuba as our relations are warming between the two countries,” Poffenberger said.

Once they arrive in Havana, sailors will stay in Cuba until Sunday.