Famed California yacht race plans April events

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The Newport (Calif.) Ocean Racing Association is hosting a series of events in April designed to inspire those who “Wanna Race?” or are competing in the annual Lexus Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race while thanking the public and community for its support.

Opening the festivities is the race launch party. This public event is on April 21 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Balboa Village/fun zone. Newport Ocean Sailing Association officials said they anticipate that about 1,000 people will attend. Along with the Newport Ocean Sailing Association, ExplorOcean, Newport Beach and Co. and the Balboa Business Improvement District are hosting. Baja's secretary of tourism, the mayor of Newport Beach and other dignitaries will welcome guests who can then enjoy the “Taste of Balboa/Sample, Stroll and Sip” and live entertainment.

The annual Yachtsman’s Lunch will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 24 at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club. Dave Ullman, a world-class sailor and namesake of Ullman Sails, is the keynote speaker. The event is primarily a thank you for boat owners entering the race, but it is open to the public.

Also on April 24, and one of three invitation-only events, is the VIP Boat Owners Reception hosted by Charles Schwab. Officials from the city of Newport Beach, along with race sponsors and boat owners, will mingle from 7 to 9 p.m. at Roger’s Gardens in Corona del Mar. The Mayor's Reception and Commodore’s Dinner on April 25 are private events hosted by NOSA for city officials, Mexican dignitaries and sponsors. However, all of the fun will be on the Peninsula where The Fiesta, the popular pre-race party, will be. For the first time, the Harborside Restaurant, at the Balboa Pavilion, will host the event.

The move is in response to the growing popularity of the party. Open to the public, the event is an opportunity for racers and crewmembers to socialize before the competition begins the following morning. There will be revelers and sailing fans of all ages from 5 to 11 p.m. Water taxi service operated by Vessel Assist and Newport Sea Base will be provided for crewmembers staying on sailboats visiting the harbor.

For the second year, Lexus is the race's title sponsor. The winner of this year’s race will win a two-year lease on a Lexus. The annual Lexus Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race starts off the Balboa Pier on the morning of April 26. More than 250 boats in nearly a dozen classes are expected to compete. Additional events and the trophy ceremony will take place in Ensenada.

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