As a long-time journalist in the watch and jewelry world, also covering other notable luxury categories, I often get invited on trips to experience events with the brands. Most of the time these relationship-building excursions are an incredible journey to parts not typically traveled. Such is the case with the recent trip I took with Ball Watch USA to Cuba. Not yet on the beaten path for most Americans, Cuba holds an incredible allure. So when Ball invited me to join them as they acted as the Official Timekeeper of the revived sailing regattas from Florida to Cuba, I jumped at the chance. I spent three days in Havana, met with the owners of several yachts participating in the once-famous St. Petersburg-Habana Regatta races, and was able to breathe in the essence, the passion of this colorful country. Today and tomorrow, I bring you on a journey with me to Havana — the business side and the pleasure side — for a real insider’s look at a land rich in history, music, art, and culture.
The Business Side of the Havana Trip:
Ball Watch USA is the watch sponsor and timing partner of The St. Petersburg Yacht Club, and so its involvement as the Official Timekeeper of the revival regatta was a natural choice. The regattas had been held annually (except for several years during World War II) from 1930 through 1958, when they came to a halt due to the deteriorated relationship between America and Cuba, and to the Cold War.
In its heyday, the race was a celebration of sailing, night-life and glory. The re-launch of the race had a similar glow, with approximately 80 yachts from around the world, and 700 sailors, participating in the historic event. While I did not sail the two- to three-day event, I was in Havana when some of the boats made their way to the famous marina.
The site of dozens of great multi-hull sailboats docked at Marina Hemingway International Yacht Club, all part of a revived race that may become annual again, was majestic. I spent time aboard GrayCious, the overall winner of the race, and met with the crew, each of whom hailed from various walks of life and shared their stories of the race… some funny, some momentarily scary, and all intriguing. Because I have a few upcoming print articles on the subject, I’m keeping it brief for now and will bring more details via social media when the articles are out.
However, it should be noted that the entire crew of GrayCious (a gray-hulled Oyster) wore Ball Fireman Racer St. Petersburg-Habana Special Edition automatic watches. The timepiece, created in a limited edition, houses the Ball RR1103 movement and offers hours, minutes, sweep seconds and magnified date. Additionally it has 15 micro gas tubes on three hands and the dial, and is shock resistant to 5,000Gs and water resistant to 100 meters. The stainless steel watch retails for $1,699.
Check back tomorrow for the full insight into my trip to Havana, Cuba, with dozens of photos. five must-do things in Havana and more.