The SORC mission is to lead the expansion of offshore competitive sailing in South Florida by providing the highest level of race organization, management and promotions for those that enjoy the sport of ocean sailing. The SORC is a Florida non-profit organization driven by a select group of volunteers that bring professional event management, sailing, racing and other skills to the organization.
April 6, 2016
It has been several decades since the days when the Southern Ocean Racing Conference, “SORC” attracted the best racers from around the world to Florida for several months of top-flight winter racing. Time constraints and the expense of managing racing programs made the commitment to such a racing format cost-prohibitive. As the series faded to a memory, winter racing in South Florida remained a constant, with the Miami to Nassau Race and Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race drawing consistent fleets to the area from November to January each winter, organized by the Southern Ocean Racing Conference race management team.
The relaxation of restrictions on travel to Cuba opened the door to the possibility of renewing a winter series reminiscent of the old “Southern Circuit”, using races already in place, and capped-off with a historic return to Havana. The regularly scheduled Nassau Race in November and Key West Race in January, would be supplemented by using the scores from the Wirth M. Munroe Palm Beach Race in December, and the race from the sister city of Miami to Havana in February. Competitors could use their top two scores from the first three races, along with their result from the Havana Race, to determine the series outcome. Given the proximity of the Gulf Stream to each of these races, and the finish of the event at the Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba, the SORC named the series the “Islands in the Stream Series.”
The series started out with a Mt. Gay Rum party at Coral Reef Yacht Club on November 11, the night before the Nassau Cup Miami to Nassau Race, hosted by Coral Reef, Storm Trysail Club and Nassau Yacht Club. Fourteen boats fought through an abnormally light breeze on a slow Gulf Stream crossing, with ten making it to Nassau before the time limit. Stephen Murray’s New Orleans based Carkeek 40 “Decsion” was the big winner at the Nassau Yacht Club awards party, winning the IRC Fleet, First to Finish , and the Nassau Cup, while Frank Atkinson’s J-125 “Raisin Cane” won the PHRF Fleet.
The Sailfish Club of Florida graciously allowed the SORC to use the results from the Wirth M. Munroe Ft. Lauderdale to Palm Beach Race for the Series, to provide a race in December. The famed “Race to the Buffet,” hosted by the Sailfish Club and the Cruising Club of America, always takes place on the first Friday in December, and always treats competitors to the best post-race dinner anywhere. Hap Fauth’s JV72 “Bella Mente” was first to finish, but once again it was “Decision” with the big night at the awards table, winning a quality 7-boat IRC class by less than a minute, and tightening its grip on the top spot in the series. Anson Mulder’s Oyster 575 “24 Heures” topped Eamonn deLisser and Jim Bill’s Farr 395 “Senara” to win the 17-boat PHRF Fleet.
The 41st Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race got off to a great start with a pre-race Mt. Gay Rum party hosted by Lauderdale Yacht Club on January 12. Hosted once again by LYC and the Storm Trysail Club, the race began in Chamber of Commerce conditions the following afternoon, with a nice downhill slide south and around the bend of the Florida Keys awaiting the 43 competing boats. For the second consecutive year, the big winners were newly-named Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Steve Benjamin and wife Heidi, with “Spookie,” albeit with a 52-foot version compared to last year’s Carkeek 40. Spookie corrected out to a 15-minute win over local favorite Stu Hebb and his venerable Aerodyne 38 “Thin Ice” in a 10-boat IRC fleet loaded with talent. Anson Mulder’s Oyster 575 “24 Heures” topped the 27-boat PHRF Fleet for its second consecutive race win, which would have set up a showdown with Decision for the Series win in the Havana Race, had 24 Heures not had a prior commitment which prevented the Havana trip. Jason Carroll’s Gunboat 62 “Elvis” was the big winner in the Multihull Fleet, reveling in the downhill conditions, with Navigator Ryan Breymaier showing the way.
That set the stage for the SORC to return to Havana for the first time in nearly sixty years. Even to those who have not been to Havana, the attraction of the destination cannot be overstated, as those who have now been to Havana can attest. The destination really sells itself, as racers and cruisers alike want to get there to see Cuba, and meet the Cuban people themselves, before inevitable changes come to the island. That said, despite relaxed travel regulations on the American side, Cuba is still a country against which the U.S. has a trade embargo. That, and the fact that changes to travel regulations had been made so recently, made setting up a race to Havana far more challenging than building a race to other tropical destinations. Suffice to say that there were many more phone calls made, emails read and written, and forms filled out than the average race would require.
The Miami to Havana Race is anything but the average race. That was evident from the opening moments of the Mt. Gay Rum Party on February 9, hosted by Coral Reef Yacht Club. More than three hundred participants enjoyed the upbeat atmosphere provided by the four-piece band straight from Calle Ocho in Little Havana. With all of the entry paperwork finalized, SORC Race Chairman Chris Woolsey conducted a brief Skippers Meeting, Comodoro José Miguel Díaz Escrich of the Club Nautico International Hemingway de Cuba (CNIH) provided welcoming remarks, and returned the sound system to the band, to continue the evening.
Race day dawned with an air of anticipation on February 10. Forty-six boats crossed the starting line just southeast of Government Cut in Miami, in light northerly breeze which was forecast to build and shift to the northeast as the night wore on. Unlike past races to Havana, from other venues, the Miami to Havana Race provides a true tactical challenge for the navigators of the fleet, with Sailing Instructions essentially requiring competitors to leave the marks of the Florida Keys to starboard and proceed to the finish at Marina Hemingway, crossing the Gulf Stream whenever their navigator deems it appropriate. As you might imagine, the SORC Online Race Tracker showed a wildly divergent array of opinions about when to cross the Stream, with the fleet almost evenly divided on either side of the rhumb line on Thursday morning, with nearly 100 miles separating the easternmost and westernmost boats. Splitting that difference and sailing close to rhumb was Mark Glimcher’s R/P 69 “Trebuchet,” who set the race record with a 19-hour, 41-minute elapsed time which some crew on the boat think represents low hanging fruit for future record seekers.
The “right” side of the course was best represented by Michael Hennessey’s Owen/Clark Design Class 40 “Dragon,” which hugged the reef along the Keys well past Key West, before making it’s hitch across the Stream. This, along with hitting the layline for the finish at Marina Hemingway from almost 60 miles out, pushed the team not only to the top of the Class 40 fleet, but to the top of the PHRF A class, the PHRF Fleet, and into possession of the Buck Gillette Trophy for Best Overall Performance in the race. Frank Kern’s Great Lakes based J-120 “Carinthia” played the other side of the course right up to the top of the PHRF B class, chalking up another win for the regular winter visitor and competitor. Steven Attard’s Hobie 33 “Viva Las Vegas” overcame tiller failure to take the win in PHRF C, also winning the Hobie 33 Midwinters in the process. Danny Escobar’s crew on the South Florida Beneteau 40 “Grand Cru” topped the PHRF D class, and Julian Rubio’s crew on “The Beast” won both the First Multihull to Finish and the Multihull Fleet.
The check-in process at Marina Hemingway was remarkably streamlined from the days of waiting 2.5 hours per boat, when boats visited in the 1990s. Much of the fleet arrived in the wee hours of Friday morning, and after a stop at the check-in station, were directed to their docks in the marina. The folks at CNIH definitely know how to host an event like this. From Friday morning on, the back deck of the club, overlooking Marina Hemingway, provided a perfect spot for racers to share war stories while sipping a cold Cristal or Bucanero beer. CNIH threw a BBQ/Pig Roast for racers on Friday night. By Saturday morning, the fleet was accounted for, with 44 boats in Marina Hemingway, one in Marathon, FL with rudder failure, and one in Key West. Saturday was a good sightseeing day for much of the fleet, followed by a Welcome Cocktail Party at CNIH, along with a Skippers Meeting for Sunday’s Morro Castle Race.
The Morro Castle Race turned into a sporty, 25 knot windward/leeward along the famed Malecón, to a turning mark at the entrance to Havana Harbor. The CNIH Race Committee braved some challenging leftover swell, and the big breeze, to send the 12 competitors around the course, in front of crowds of people along the Malecón. The Club roasted two pigs all afternoon, for that evening’s Awards Party and Celebration. There must have been a magician in the crowd, because both hogs disappeared in the blink of an eye, upon removal from the spit. And with that, the first SORC Islands in the Stream Series came to a close, with Steven Murray’s “Decision” at the top of the bunch, on the strength of a second place finish in the IRC class in the Havana Race. While over 80 different boats competed in various legs of the Series, "Decision" was one of three boats who committed to doing all four races, and did so with the consistency that distinguishes champions from the rest of the pack. It is somehow fitting that the revival of the old “Southern Circuit” be done with a southern boat as the champion. Well done, "Decision".
The crew on "Decision" were far from the only winners on that Sunday night in Havana. Each of the nearly 350 sailors on hand were winners as well, for overcoming years of being prohibited from traveling to such a magical place, only 90 miles away from our shores. The nearly universal theme among the participants was that this was a powerful experience that transcended a mere boat race. The other universal theme was the urge to return as soon as possible.
Year two of the SORC Islands in the Stream Series will send you through the tropics beginning at the Coral Reef Yacht Club on November 9, 2016, with the Skippers Meeting and Pre-Race Party for the Nassau Cup Race, hosted by CRYC, the Storm Trysail Club, and Nassau Yacht Club, starting on November 10, 2016. The Nassau Cup will provide the usual challenge and reward of crossing the Gulfstream and celebrating at the Nassau Yacht Club with match racing and the usual post race island festivities. The Storm Trysail Club is taking over management of the Wirth M. Munroe Memorial Palm Beach Race, which will start on Friday, December 2, 2016. You do not want to miss the annual “Race to the Buffet” at the Sailfish Club of Florida, which doubles as the second race of the Series.
Racers will gather at the Lauderdale Yacht Club on January 10, 2017 for the Skippers Meeting and Pre-Race Party for the 42nd Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race, hosted by LYC and the Storm Trysail Club. The race starts on Wednesday afternoon, January 11, for the sprint down and around the Florida Keys, where the crystal clear water, tropical weather and festive atmosphere of Key West will once again greet competitors. The Series will once again wrap up at Marina Hemingway, with the second running of the Miami to Havana Race, hosted by Coral Reef Yacht Club and the Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba. Coral Reef will host the Skippers Meeting and Pre-Race Party on Tuesday, February 21, 2017, with the race starting the following morning, February 22, outside the Miami harbor entrance.
Sign up for email updates at www.sorcsailing.org, and watch for updates on the SORC Sailing Facebook page. Watch for information on the Nassau Cup Race at www.nassaucuprace.org, the Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race at www.keywestrace.org, and the Miami to Havana Race at www.havanarace.org.
Photo courtesy of Marco Oquendo. To see more Havana Race photos, visit his website www.imagesbymarco.com
February 20, 2016
Steven Murray’s New Orleans-based Carkeek 40 Decision stormed into Havana on Thursday afternoon, February 11, to claim second place in the IRC class for the Inaugural Miami to Havana Race behind Marc Glimcher’s Havana Race Record Setting R/P 69 Trebuchet, and clinch the win in the Inaugural SORC Islands in the Stream Series. Decision grabbed an early lead in the series with a win in the Nassau Cup Race in November, and strengthened its grip with a win in the Wirth Munroe Palm Beach Race in December. “We’re not disappointed at all with our result in the race; we were happy to be crossing gybes with Trebuchet more than 5 hours into the race, but they were always going to leg out on us,” said Murray, who said the overall series trophy holds major significance for him. “I grew up admiring the SORC greats, devouring race results and news about the SORC series when I was a kid. To be the first winner of the reborn series feels really amazing,” Murray said.
Regular winter visitor Frank Kern’s J-120 Carinthia notched the win in the PHRF B class in the Havana Race, to pull within three points of Decision for the series, but could get no closer. “We saw over a knot of Easterly current over on the left hand [Southeast] side of the course, and we weren’t going to miss that,” explained Kern, about the team’s strategic move to the left side of the course. Local favorite Thin Ice, Stuart Hebb and John Vincent’s Aerodyne 38 entered the Havana Race tied with Carinthia and others for the series, finished second in PHRF B for the race and third for the series, one point behind Carinthia.
Over eighty different boats competed in the various legs of the series (Miami/Nassau, Ft. Lauderdale/Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale/Key West, Miami/Havana). Three boats competed in all four races of the Series, with Decision leading the way after an early commitment to support the event, joined by Jim Hightower’s King 40 Hot Ticket and Jim Bill and Eammon deLisser’s Farr 395 Senara. Eight boats qualified for the final series results, by completing two of the first three races, plus the Havana Race. Watch for more as the series moves into its second year. Four races over a three month span, two Gulf Stream crossings, one hell of a good time!
January 18, 2016
Friday night was a big night at the Oldest House for Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Steve Benjamin, his wife Heidi, and their Spookie team, winning just about everything they could possibly win at the awards presentation for the 41st Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race. Just as their former, smaller Spookie did last year, their new (to them) TP52 rose to the head of the class in it’s first Key West Race, winning the loaded IRC Fleet and the Committee Trophy for Best Overall Performance. Navigator Anderson Reggio won the IRC Navigator’s Trophy for his efforts. Just about the only thing they did not do was win line honors. The much larger, and also very well sailed Wizard was the first to finish.
Anson Mulder’s Oyster 575 24 Heures cleaned up similarly in the PHRF Fleet, winning a tight battle with Dr. Ulrich Rohde’s former overall race winning Swan 53 Dragon Fly Plus for the class win in PHRF B, and keeping Bill Bollin’s Melges 32 Badfish, winner of PHRF A, from repeating it’s overall PHRF win from last year. It was a big night for 24 Heures, and Navigator Joe Goulet, winner of the Navigator’s Trophy for the PHRF Fleet.
Phil Scalise’s venerable Peterson 38 Santarella capped an amazing past year by literally rising from the depths of summer... and racing to the top of PHRF C. Norman Church’s equally well-traveled Morgan 41 Obsession was just as impressive in the PHRF D Class, continuing the impressive performances by East coast Florida boats in the PHRF Fleet.
Jason Carroll’s Gunboat 62 Elvis, reveled in the classic Key West Race conditions, and benefitted from some recent performance upgrades (not to mention an all-star crew), winning on line honors and corrected time in the Multihull Fleet. Ryan Breymaier collected the Multihull Navigator’s Trophy to add to his recent collection of offshore records.
After three races and one final race left, there is a tight race for the top spot in the Islands in the Stream series standings.
September 13, 2015
Welcome to the 2015-16 SORC Sailing season. An exciting series of offshore races await competitors in the Southeast’s traditional winter aquatic playground, where sailors from near and far gather to test and polish skills, acquire new ones, and enjoy the heat of competition and the warmth of different harbors. This season promises all of that and more.
The season kicks off Thursday, November 12, 2015, just off of the shores of Miami Beach, with the 82nd running of the Nassau Cup Ocean Race to Nassau, hosted by Coral Reef Yacht Club, Nassau Yacht Club, Lauderdale Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Club. Who will wrest the cup from the hands of Defending Champion Russell Dunn and his Beneteau 36.7 Rimshot? We will know in just a few months time, whether anyone is up to the task. Skippers and crews with gather at Coral Reef Yacht Club for a Skippers Meeting and pre-race festivities on Tuesday, November 11, with post-race festivities at Nassau Yacht Club, as always.
Andrew Price’s venerable turbo Melges 30 Peerless was off to a great start in last January’s 40th Annual Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race, clearly enjoying the normal sleigh-ride conditions. Unfortunately, as they made the turn to the west, angles got tighter, and they allowed themselves to work offshore a bit, into the deep blue waters of the Gulf Stream. This allowed the race veterans on the Melges 32 Badfish to sneak inside of them and to the top of the PHRF fleet, leaving the Peerless crew almost as blue as the color of the hull. Will Peerless have another go at it, and is Badfish up for the rematch, or will they remain where the water is solid in the winter? Stay tuned (and stay inside the Stream, lest you get the blues). Competitors will gather at Lauderdale Yacht Club on January 12, 2016, for the Skippers Meeting and pre-race cocktail party; the race starts south of Port Everglades on Wednesday, January 13, with post-race headquarters at Turtle Kraals, and the awards presentation on Friday evening, January 15, once again at Kelly’s Caribbean Restaurant.
The Sailfish Club of Florida has agreed to let us include the results from the December 4th Wirth M. Munroe Memorial Palm Beach Race, which we will score along with the results from the three SORC races, to create a four-race Islands in the Stream Series. The competitor with the best results throughout the series will be awarded the Islands in the Stream Trophy. There is no separate entry form to fill out; enter the series by entering the races as you normally would. Check out the Islands in the Stream Notice of Series on this website.
You spoke, we listened. Thanks to improved relations between countries, sailors can now race to Cuba, and to Cuba we will race. The Miami to Havana Race, hosted by the Coral Reef Yacht Club and the Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba, will begin on February 10, 2016, with competitors racing down the curve of the Florida Keys and turning to make their way across the Gulf Stream to Marina Hemingway at whatever point their navigator deems appropriate. A coastal race on February 14 will take competitors along the famed Malecón and back. The Notice of Race is available on the official Miami to Havana Race website.
The Islands in the Stream Series: Four races over a three month span, two Gulf Stream crossings, one hell of a good time. Winter racing and the SORC season, a match made in heaven.