The sailing culture here has seen better days.
For at least the last two years, people in Newport Beach have struggled to sell their boats. Others lack the financial stability to buy one, and many in between just opt to not take theirs out on the water.
But with a deal struck between the organizers of the fledgling Border Run Yacht Race and the iconic Newport to Ensenada race to host contests on consecutive weekends, yachting might just get a strong gust of wind in its sails.
"We're fighting the economy," said Border Run co-founder Randy Reynolds. "We're going to promote the month of April as, 'If you can't sell it, sail it.'"
For the last two years, the Newport to Ensenada race has had to compete directly with the Border Run, a 70- to 90-mile race from Newport Harbor to San Diego that goes around Coronado Island.
The Border Run is an abbreviated version of the Ensenada race, which keeps sailors in American waters for almost the whole race.
The Newport to Ensenada race, which just celebrated its 63rd year, had slightly more than 200 participants this year, a far cry from years ago when 700 sailors would participate.
Reynolds started his race in
2009 when he was not allowed to participate in the Ensenada event and scheduled it for the same weekend.
"Our goal is to promote sailing and grow sailing on the coast like it used to be in the '70s and '80s," he said. "That was causing some conflict in the Newport Beach area"
That conflict made waves among local sailors, but both sides agreed to sit down and come to a solution for the sake of the sport, Border Run co-founder Bob Long said.
"We were able to get everybody together and basically say, 'Let's work together and come up with a series of races,'" Long said.
"I think it's going to help both races, hopefully pick up more boats, and Newport to Ensenada will hopefully pick up new boats," Reynolds said.
Race officials will be able to tell whether the back-to-back weekends of racing will help early
next year, when sailors start signing up.
"It's the best thing for the sport, without causing any harm to the most traditional of all races in Southern California," said Rich Roberts of the Newport Ocean Sailing Assn., which puts on the Ensenada race. "This gives everybody
a choice to sail either one or
both, it's really nothing bad for anybody."
"Now we can get back to sailing again," Reynolds said. "We're not looking back anymore. We're looking forward."
The Border Run is scheduled
to launch April 9, and the
Ensenada race is scheduled for April 15.
For more information on the Border Run, visit XSRacing.org. For information on the Ensenada race, visit http://www.nosa.org.