Here’s a delightful and surprising story from our week doing Spanish immersion in Mexico with my 8-year-old son. It involves a giant sailing race (and party) with countless sailboats landing on a beach on the Yucatan coast, near Progresso, Mexico!
Yucatan, Mexico’s Lovely San Benito Beach
The afternoon started peacefully enough. My son and I had taken a break from eating food in Merida, Mexico to eat food an hour away from Merida, by the beach at San Benito, Yucatan state. My son was happily digging sand castles with his friend… when I suddenly realized that there were two sailboats headed right for him!
The two sailboats landed a few feet away — and then five more whizzed right up to the beach and landed. Oh my! I looked out onto the horizon and saw dozens more boats speeding towards the shore. This was not any ordinary day at the beach! What was going on?
A Sailboat Race in Mexico
At this point, a man ran up to us and hollered, “You all have to move off the beach! This is a sailing race!” Ah — I suppose it was. We stepped back from the shore in the nick of time, as five more boats came hurtling in. Reading the words on the sails, they seemed to have come from far away. What was this mystical sailboat course?
“What is this boat race?” I asked a nearby man in Spanish.
“This is the Copa Cummins,” he replied, the joy of the ocean breeze sparkling on his face.
I whipped out my phone (spotty but stable reception on the beach) and investigated.
It turns out that the Copa Cummins is a 5-day sailing race (plus family-friendly events) that happens every July on the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan state for the past 23 years. Participants come from many different countries, including Guatemala, Brazil, Venezuela, and more. Amazing!
I thought of my own meager sailing experiences: one or two times out on a boat with friends of friends of friends, getting thoroughly sunburned, terrified of getting smacked in the head with the sail’s boom. I decided sailboats are a lot more fun to watch than ride on, in my personal opinion — but I’m glad other folks enjoy being on them, so the rest of us have something pretty to look at in the water.
Indeed, that day in San Benito, the sight of dozens of colorful sails (like Merida’s colorful houses), glowing like stained glass in the bright Mexican sun, took my breath away! Then a man walked by with a tray of sweets balanced on his head, and the next 15 minutes were consumed my by son craving beach meringues, and me having run out of pesos due to previous taco consumption.
Our day at the Yucatan coast beach in Mexico didn’t go as expected, but that was ok! Sometimes it’s cool to get suddenly surrounded by sailboats, and be smack-dab in the middle of a race you didn’t know existed until hundreds of participants amassed around you. You just have to move out of the way before you get mistaken for a wave. Thanks for the colorful delight, Copa Cummins!
Have YOU heard of the Copa Cummins, or other sailing races in Mexico or the Yucatan coast? Does this seem like an event you’d like to attend? Do share!
Want more about Mexico with kids? Check out my review of the Palacio de la Musica, Merida!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!