Columbus Day Regatta enters 60th year on Biscayne Bay

It has been 522 years since Christopher Columbus sailed his fleet of small ships from Spain to the shores of the “New World.” For the 60th year, South Florida sailors will commemorate that voyage with the Bacardi Columbus Day Regatta, held Oct. 11-12 on Biscayne Bay.

As many as 90 boats with 500 sailors will compete in 11 classes in the two-day event, which begins just south of the Rickenbacker Causeway just before 10 a.m. Saturday (Oct. 11) and finishes just north of the Biscayne National Park boundary. The race restarts just before 11 a.m. next Sunday (Oct. 12) near the previous day’s finish line and ends off Dinner Key.

Although some sailors may choose to anchor overnight in South Biscayne Bay after Saturday’s start, at least half the fleet is expected to return to Miami to attend the inaugural Columbus Day Conquistador Dinner and Dance at Shake-A-Leg on the Coconut Grove waterfront. The party is open to the public and costs $25.

“The party should be over the top this year,” regatta chairman Mark Pincus said. “We want to get the public more involved with what is happening with the waterfront.”

Pincus said there is no connection between the annual sailboat race and the huge powerboat party that takes place in the park over the long holiday weekend.

“The Columbus Day weekend at Elliott Key has nothing to do with the Columbus Day Regatta that’s been running successfully for 60 years now,” Pincus said. “We’re a nice, green sport and we’re not messing up the bay.”

An awards ceremony to honor winners in each racing class will be held Oct. 18 at Miami’s Coral Reef Yacht Club.