The 2017-18 SORC Islands in the Stream Series wrapped up in Havana, Cuba on February 16, concluding four action-packed months of Gulfstream crossings, hard racing, island hopping, tropical weather, and crystal clear waters. The series began in 2015 as a way to tie several South Florida winter-season races together to produce one series winner, irrespective of the class sailed, fostering some competition and camaraderie along the way. This season’s series provided plenty of both.

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2017-18 SORC Islands in the Stream Series Winner White Rhino, Todd Stuart

Todd Stuart’s Swan 56 White Rhino jumped to the top of the scoreboard right away, by winning November’s Nassau Cup Race, hosted by Storm Trysail Club, Coral Reef YC and Nassau YC. White Rhino corrected out just two minutes ahead of Michael D’Amelio’s line honors winning J/V 52 Denali in the IRC class. Past Nassau Cup Winner Russell Dunn’s Beneteau 36.7 Rim Shot was third, and STC member Stuart Hebb’s Aerodyne 38 Thin Ice was fourth in the IRC class. STC member Jim Bill’s Farr 395 Senara, co-owned with Eamonn deLisser and Horst Baier, shared the top of the series scoring by winning the PHRF fleet over fellow STC member Christian Schaumloffel’s Hobie 33 Myrage.

White Rhino separated from the pack in the December Wirth M. Munroe Memorial Miami to Palm Beach Race, hosted by Biscayne Bay YC, Storm Trysail Club and the Sailfish Club of Florida, with another IRC class win, this time with a five-minute margin over STC member Steve and Heidi Benjamin’s TP52 Spookie. Denali was third, another minute back, followed by Thin Ice and STC member Austin and Gwen Fragomen’s Volvo 70 Interlodge. In the PHRF fleet, Senara was second to Anson Mulder’s Oyster 575 24 Heures, to remain within a point of the series lead.

For the 42nd year, the Lauderdale Yacht Club and Storm Trysail Club welcomed the South Florida offshore new year with the Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race, and it was a classic off the wind race down the Keys. Storm Trysail Club member Anderson Reggio navigated Jason Carroll’s immaculate Gunboat 62 Elvis to a line honors win, as well as the corrected time win in the Multihull fleet. The Volvo 70 Warrior, co-skippered by STC member Stephen Murray, Jr. led the way to line honors in the monohull fleet, but it was Ron O’Hanley’s Cookson 50 Privateer, navigated by STC Rear Commodore Ed Cesare, taking home the heavy hardware from Key West, with the IRC and Overall trophies in hand. White Rhino edged Spookie for second place in IRC, but Senara could not capitalize, finishing second in PHRF A to 24 Heures, leaving White Rhino with a one-point lead heading into the Havana Race. Storm Trysail Club member Norman Church won the Teddy Hall Memorial Trophy, for best finish by a Storm Trysail Club entry, with a fourth place finish in PHRF B, in his Morgan 41 Obsession.

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Spookie, Steve and Heidi Benjamin

The fleet gathered off of South Beach in a building easterly breeze, for the start of the Miami to Havana Race, with the series very much in play, with Senara trailing White Rhino by only a point and conditions that did not favor the big Swan. The forecast called for a sleigh ride, which worked to Spookie and Senara’s favor. The conditions did not disappoint, and Spookie shaved two hours off of the course record set in 2016 by the R/P 69 Trebuchet, and corrected out over Thin Ice to put Storm Trysail Club members in first and second in IRC, with White Rhino in third. Third was enough for White Rhino to win the series, thanks to Senara having a tough race in PHRF A. Luc Maj’s Oakcliff’s Weegie rocketed to the win in the PHRF fleet, with two-time overall race winner Michael Hennessy’s Class 40 Dragon taking second in PHRF A. Glenn Doncaster’s Sabre 42 Nanuq won PHRF B, and Lowell Potiker’s Hylas 70 Runaway legged out to the win in the Racer Cruiser class. Despite the many stories in the Havana Race, it was Joe Rome and his Simpson 48 catamaran who stole the show. Not only did he win the class convincingly, upon arrival at Marina Hemingway, he became the first Cuban-born American sailor to return to his homeland on his own boat.

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Thin Ice, Stuart Hebb

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Myrage, Christian Schaumloffel and Senara, Jim Bill

White Rhino stomped away with a one-point series win over Spookie and Senara. The whole fleet enjoyed a stellar party at El Laurel, just outside of Marina Hemingway, adding the key ingredient to the Havana Race, which all of the series races enjoy. The Nassau Cup Race has match racing in J22s, and a celebration and dinner at the Nassau Yacht Club. The Wirth Munroe Race is affectionately known as the “Race to the Buffet,” in honor of the magnificent feast put on by the Sailfish Club. The evening party on the patio at Kelly’s Caribbean Bar and Grill has been a staple of the Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race ever since the fleet moved away from the raucous affair at the submarine basin in the race’s early days. Now that the Havana after-race festivities are sorted, there is consistency for extracurricular activities throughout the series. This will only improve with next season fast approaching, the series scheduled, and some changes on the way.

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Vintage Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Party at the Submarine Basin.
Climb the greased pole, win a bottle of Mt Gay. Photo credit: Joe Fema

Next season’s SORC Islands in the Stream Series kicks off in November and promises to be bigger and better than ever. Come enjoy South Beach, a Gulfstream crossing, island hopping and some November island time in the Nassau Cup Race (11/15/18 Start), hook into the stream for the “Race to the Buffet” in December’s Wirth Munroe Palm Beach Race (12/7/18 Start), get your Key West fix in mid-January with the Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race (1/17/19 Start), test your mettle in the Pineapple Cup, Montego Bay Race, on January 27, 2019, and finish the Series with one more Gulfstream crossing and one more great tropical party in the Miami to Havana Race (3/20/19 Start). We will use one scoring system for series scoring, instead of using each boat’s race results from each class in each race. Make plans now. We play among those famous islands in the stream and want to take you with us.

Chris Woolsey
3/14/18