Every spring for the past 44 years, sailors come from all over the world to take part in the Regata del Sol al Sol. The race starts at the in downtown St. Pete and ends in Isla Mujeres, Mexico.
The course is 480 miles, from start to finish.
This year, there were three countries represented: the United States, Poland and Mexico. Sailors came from four states in the U.S. Floridians, alone, raced in the name of 11 counties.
A total of 28 boats were registered to partake in the nautical adventure, which came to a whopping 172 souls.
Shawn Macking, the Waterfront Director for the , said there is more to the race than what meets the eye. “It’s a race, but there’s also a humanitarian side to it,” explained Macking. “We deliver school supplies they can’t easily get down there.”
A number of boaters take on the responsibility of carrying the equipment aboard their own vessels.
Macking said that the event draws attention to both St. Petersburg and Isla Mujeres as desired destinations. “It’s a pretty neat event,” said Macking.
Crowds of spectators came out to the pier in support of the event on Friday, April 27. Cannons were sounded at the start of the race. City Council Chair, Leslie Curran and Council Member, Bill Dudley came out to cheer on the sailors.
Not all of the supporters were at the starting line intentionally. Some folks even wandered up to the top of the pier because of the sound of cannons heard ‘round the bay.
David and Margie Didgen were visiting St. Pete from Melbourne and watched intently as the sailboats cruised by. “We just happened to come out to the pier this morning and we realized they were having this sailboat race,” said David Didgen. “It was unexpected, but it was interesting.”
The Regata del Sol al Sol is expected to end between Sunday and Tuesday. A satellite tracking system has been put into place online so that family, friends and spectators can enjoy the race from their computer screen.