Newport Beach and Ensenada, Baja California, celebrated their shared love of the sea Thursday evening at a reception in advance of the annual Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race.
Dignitaries from Mexico mingled with race organizers from the Newport Ocean Sailing Association and Newport Beach Mayor Kevin Muldoon in the courtyard of the Ayres Hotel & Suites in Costa Mesa, exchanging gifts and gratitude hours before the 70th annual event.
This year, about 185 vessels will compete to be the first to cover the 125 nautical miles between the coastal cities.
Muldoon presented Jared Gutierrez, Ensenada's director of international affairs, with a souvenir fleece blanket stitched with sailboats, while Gutierrez offered a bottle of local wine. As Napa is to California, Baja is known as Mexico's wine country.
"I gave you a gift that keeps you warm, you gave me a gift that keeps me warm," Muldoon quipped.
Jorge Gamboa from the Mexico Tourism Board's Los Angeles regional office thanked Newport sailors for bringing their loyal economic contributions and goodwill.
"You've been an incredible friend of Mexico for so many years," he said.
Mario Cuevas Zamora, the Mexican consul in Orange County, also offered friendly thanks.
"Muchas gracias, and see you in Ensenada," he said.
The race begins at 11 a.m. Friday off the Balboa Pier.