New race sails around local islands

Competitive racing in Newport Beach will welcome its latest addition Friday when the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club launches its Around the Islands race, a competition that begins and ends in Newport Harbor.

Organizers hope the race, a 125-mile clockwise circuit around Catalina, Sutil and Santa Barbara islands, will become synonymous with the yacht club.

In the competitive world of Newport Harbor races, where sailors can set sail for far-off destinations like Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, or Hawaii in the Transpac race, the Around the Islands offers something different, officials said.

Besides the unusual clockwise direction, it's one of the few races that begins and ends in the same location, saving sailors the hassle of sailing the boats back or towing them over land.

The race launches at noon today off the Balboa Pier, with 27 boats registered to participate.

If going around the islands doesn't strike your fancy, the 44th annual Governor's Cup yacht race begins next week. The race, which pits up-and-coming sailors from around the world (the maximum age is 21), puts a dozen sailing crews racing head to head in a round-robin format until two finalists race on the final day for the championship.

There are five days of racing, with the final race scheduled for Sunday, July 25. The Balboa Yacht Club has put on the race since its inception.

"It's major and we get a lot of people from all over the world. This year we had to turn away a lot of people," said Nancy Mellon, publicity chairwoman for the race.

Nearly two dozen sailing teams applied for the race, with only 12 getting in. The teams come from as far as Argentina.

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