HAVANA._ The month of May was evidently important for Cuba’s tourism, sport and friendship ties as it welcomed two regattas from the United States and a fishing tournament largely represented by U.S. fishermen.

With sails set from Key West, the Havana Challenge was the first to start the race followed by Bone Island, which departed from Sarasota, Florida.

The events were followed by the arrival of writer Ernest Hemingway’s grandsons, who came to Cuba to participate in the 65th edition of the International Billfish Tournament named after their grandfather, and the victory of the U.S. teams in the competition.

The month of May was evidently important for Cuba’s tourism, sport and friendship ties as it welcomed two regattas from the United States and a fishing tournament largely represented by U.S. fishermen.

But the real winner of these nautical activities was friendship.

U.S. pleasure boats set sails early on May 16 and arrived at Havana’s Hemingway Marina in the afternoon.

The 35th International Tourism Fair, FITCuba 2015, (May 5-7 at Jardines del Rey), focused on the nautical activity as a product. A total of 120 U.S. tour operators and travel agents attended that fair for the first time.

The Havana Challenge regatta represented a new step as part of the two peoples’ intention to breaking the barriers between their countries.

This always has been the spirit that has characterized commodore José Miguel Díaz Escrich, the president of the Hemingway Yacht Club since its foundation in 1992 at the marina with the same name in western Havana, which is the main promoter of these activities in Cuba.

The first regatta involved some 100 U.S. athletes aboard 20 pleasure boats that departed from Key West, Florida. The Havana Challenge became the first one in 15 years to have received authorization from the U.S. government to come to Cuba.

Of those 20 boats, 5 were of the “Hobie Cat-16” type, and the remaining 15 were supporting boats that included two replicas of 18th century boats.

The ships returned to their country on May 21. The program included a demonstration in front of the Havana Malecón (sea wall drive) featuring Hobie Cats and a competition involving five teams, both from the guest and host countries alike.

Also enjoying the event were the Mayor of Key West, Craig Cates, and the famous competitors Joe Weatherby and George Bellenger, who came with the group.

Meanwhile, the Bone Island regatta was in Havana from May 21 to 26, as organized by the Sarasota Club, Florida.

In addition, from May 25 to 30 Havana hosted the 65th International Billfish Tournament, one of the oldest and most famous of its type in the world. Also for the first time, the U.S. Department of the Treasury authorized more than 10 boats to attend the event.

With large experience in this type of competitions and for a long time willing to show up in Cuban waters, the U.S. participants won most of the awards.

Key West is in favor of resuming relations with Cuba, Mayor Craig Cates reiterated a few hours before returning to his country with the Havana Challenge regatta.

He also expressed his support for maintaining relations between the nautical activity in Cuba and the United States because, he noted, the sea is also a means for conveying cultural bonds between the two peoples.

In the meantime, Ernest Hemingway’s grandsons, John and Patrick, expressed their satisfaction for the new stage in the easing of Cuba-U.S. relations.

They came to Havana aboard a yacht together with other country fellows to attend the 65th edition of the tournament that bears their grandfather’s name.

John Patrick (writer) and Patrick Edward (photographer) are the sons of Gregory Hemingway (1931-2001) and grandsons of Pauline Pfeiffer (1895-1951), the second of the novelist’s four wives.

Results of the Ernest Hemingway International Billfish Tournament (May 25-30, the Havana coast).

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