From the Boathouse: An exciting Flight by any name

Ahoy and the Flight of the Lasers in Newport Harbor!

While looking at my radar, I noticed a target that will be dead center on the screen this Sunday -- the 79th Annual Flight of the Lasers. The race is held in Newport Harbor, and old-timers will recall the Flight of the Snowbirds, which was the original race that started in 1936. In the early 1970s, the name and boat class were changed to the Flight of the Kites, and eventually today it is known as the Flight of the Lasers.

Unfortunately, I will miss this year's Flight of the Lasers because I will be racing aboard a C-Scow at the Lake Arrowhead Yacht Club this weekend. "We are hoping for a great turnout," said longtime racer Brett Hemphill. "We really appreciate the support of our great sponsors."

The Flight will start at 1 p.m. with the starting line located off Balboa Island's shore just east of the Balboa Pavilion.

From the start, the racers will head west up the channel to the large turning basin to round course marker No. 1 by the anchorage. Passing every mark to port, the racers will turn heading for the U-mark located just off the Lido Isle Yacht Club, and then begin the long sail to Z-mark floating in the small turning basin by Lido Village. A helpful tip is to sneak your boat under the Lido Isle Bridge versus going around Lido's east tip to get to the Z-mark, but I did not tell you to do this illegal race maneuver.

If normal prevailing winds are blowing, the racers will begin an easterly 2.4-nautical-mile reach to marker No. 4 located between channel marker No. 8 and the Harbor Master's office, where, once rounded, they will complete the final leg to the finish line where it all started. Good luck to all.

The awards ceremony will be held at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club, where trophies will be given to the first 10 finishers, first girl, first married couple, youngest boy, youngest girl, best costume, first parent-child team, best decorated boat, oldest skipper and finally, bravery in the face of danger.

You can see the race results, a diagram of the course and more details at

News of the week: Do you remember on Jan. 13, 2012, when the cruise ship Costa Concordia hit the rocks, breaching the hull with a huge gash under the ship's waterline? After hitting the rocks off the Italian Island of Giglio, the ship eventually drifted toward shore to become grounded and partially submerged while resting on its starboard side just outside Giglio Harbour. The navigational error, which caused 32 people to lose their lives, would have claimed more lives if the ship had sunk completely offshore.

After 2 1/2 years, the ship has been refloated and will be towed away from the island on July 21 if the weather and seas permit. The ship was up-righted on an undersea platform and then finally refloated in a massive salvage operation. The future for the ship is bleak, as the structure will be cut up for scrap, and experts are estimating that the total disaster will cost approximately $2 billion to the Italian cruise line Costa Crociere S.p.A., which is owned by Carnival Corp., the ship's owners.

Some locals do not like seeing the ghostly ship that reminds them of that tragic night and the loss of lives that occurred inside the partially exposed hull above the sea. However, the local economy has had an economic shot in the arm from the tourist lookie-loos' dollars and the influx of salvage workers for the past couple of years.

The shipwreck was caused by a stupid navigational maneuver ordered by the captain who, according to the Daily Beast, claims that he is the scapegoat for the parent companies. He is awaiting charges on abandoning ship and manslaughter and for the ship's accumulative damages.

Weekend weather: The daytime air temperatures along the Southern California coast will remain in the 70s and the nighttime temperatures will drop into the low 60s with increasing early-morning clouds.

The local seas will be small and mixed with one to two feet from the west and two feet from the south. The afternoon winds will be five to 10 knots with one-foot wind waves.

Point Conception will have winds gusting to only 15 knots, creating two- to three-foot wind waves. The seas will be mixed with three to four feet from the west-northwest and a two-foot south. The weather window to round the Point continues for the weekend.

As always, just keep an eye to the weather for any changes. Please be boat smart and boat safe. Lastly, please boat responsibly and look behind you before you turn the wheel at the helm.

Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, "Boathouse Radio Show," broadcasting live coast-to-coast on syndicated network. See times at, and

Safe voyages!

MIKE WHITEHEAD is a boating columnist for the Daily Pilot. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to or go to

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