Bringing Back the Good Old Days


In 1957, members of the South Florida Station of the Cruising Club of America, an international organization established in 1921, inaugurated a race from Miami to Palm Beach. They named it the Wirth Munroe Yacht Race to honor the well-known yacht designer.

Wirth Munroe came from sailing roots. He was the son of Jessie Wirth and Ralph Munroe, his father also a yacht designer. Ralph helped establish the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club in 1887, was elected Commodore of the club and held that title for 22 years.

The 50 nm Wirth Munroe Yacht Race, which was led by Dick Bertram, was intended to prepare racing yachts for the Southern Ocean Racing Conference (SORC). The SORC, launched in the 40s, had become the preeminent yachting event, with international champions flocking to Florida for inshore and offshore racing in January and February.

In the 1960s, Palm Beach’s Sailfish Club of Florida became a co-organizer along with the Cruising Club of America and took over the lead role in 1980. After the 59th running last year, the CCA asked to be relieved and the Storm Trysail Club and its Southern Station have joined with the Sailfish Club of Florida to continue and grow the event.

The famed ‘Race to the Buffet’ always treats competitors to the best post-race dinner anywhere. In response to local interest, there will now be buoy racing off of Palm Beach the next day for the IRC boats.

While the SORC as it had been known may have sailed off into the yacht racing sunset, the entity has been transformed as a non-profit organization driven by volunteers to provide professional event management.

SORC launched the inaugural ‘Islands in the Stream Series’ in 2015-16, which returns this winter with a four event circuit comprising of the Wirth and three events organized by the SORC:

Nov 9-12 – Miami to Nassau Race
Dec 1-2 – Wirth Munroe Yacht Race
Jan 10-13 – Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race
Mar 14-19 – Miami to Havana Race

Series details:

At the same time, the Storm Trysail Club is working with the Montego Bay Yacht Club and Manuka Sports and Event Management to revitalize the Pineapple Cup race to Jamaica. The start of the race is being moved from Ft Lauderdale to Miami.

Montego Bay Yacht Club is offering a race around the southern shore of Cuba to Havana to follow the Pineapple Cup.

All this activity with important local clubs like the Sailfish Club, the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club and national organizations like the Storm Trysail Club working hard to provide good racing bodes well for a return to the heady old days of the SORC.

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