Salt Life, one of today’s leading lifestyle brands, will present the third annual Havana Challenge, an extreme sporting competition designed to promote person-to-person intercultural exchange through the sport of sailing. This marks the third official year for the Havana Challenge since U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba resumed in 2015. About 100 American sailors will participate in the 90-mile sail from Key West, Florida, to Havana, Cuba, on Hobie Cat 16 sailboats. After completing the Gulfstream 100, sailors will participate in the Copa de Amistad, the regatta against the Cuban national team. Each year, thousands of Cubans watch the event from the Malecon. For more information and schedule of events, please visit the Havana Challenge website.
Jeff Alter, son of surfboard legend and Hobie Cat inventor Hobart "Hobie" Alter, will train Salt Life’s president Jeff Stillwell as he prepares for his first time competing in the Havana Challenge. Alter and Stillwell will train in Key West just days before the Challenge begins. “Training with sailing king Jeff Alter is a dream come true for me,” said Stillwell. “Learning to race on a Hobie Cat from the man whose father invented the Hobie Cat is a complete honor, let’s hope I make him proud!”
Salt Life is proud to return as the presenting sponsor. “The Havana Challenge is unique in that it brings together all types of people who ‘live the Salt Life,’ from veteran sailors who have navigated the Florida straits dozens of times to amateur sailors who do it for the love of the sport,” said Larry Laska, Salt Life’s director of marketing. “We are honored and excited to be part of this event and to cheer on Jeff as he takes on the Challenge for the first time.”
The Havana Challenge was founded by George Bellenger and Joe Weatherby, two college friends who have made the crossing over a dozen times. “Our goal in all of this is to promote cultural exchange through traditional maritime heritage, and we hope the Challenge continues for many years to come,” Bellenger said. “It’s an extreme sport experience like no other and tests even the most experienced sailors. I look forward to it all year long.”
Watch highlights from last year’s Havana Challenge below.