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Ensuring smooth sailing

April 28, 2002

The 55th annual Tommy Bahama Newport to Ensenada festivities will end

today south of the border. More than 500 volunteers spend countless hours

on making the race happen every year.

On Thursday, the event's promoter, Ralph Rodheim, sat down with City

Editor James Meier to discuss the race's past, present and future.

Rodheim has been involved in the race since the 1960s, mostly as a

participant.

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Q: What are your general thoughts on this year's Tommy Bahama Newport

to Ensenada Yacht Race?

A: I'm really pleased with the progress the event is making. It's

always been a wonderful activity. The Newport Ocean Sailing Assn. board

works all year long, as do we -- we're already working on the 2003 race

-- and made some fabulous strides this year to improve the race, to

improve the image and to improve the benefit to the participants, the

racers.

Q: And what are the improved benefits to the racers?

A: I think one of the elements we did this year was the West Marine

Sailing Seminar and Expo, which was held at the Newport Beach Marriott.

We were very pleased with West Marine as a race sponsor -- put a lot of

effort into it and actually had two tracks, a beginning sailor track and

an advanced sailor track with seven hours each. So, for a first-year

event, we had 300-plus people attend, and I would think in the future

there would be several thousand people because it was so well done.

And we had a lunch, which the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce was

involved in, that featured Gino Morrelli, the world-class yacht designer

of Stars and Stripes and a boat named PlayStation, which just set the

U.S. to England transatlantic record. So people think that sailing is

slow. They sailed across the Atlantic Ocean for four days and some hours.

They averaged 25.8 knots, average.

So, for the Ensenada race, that was one new activity that came about

this year. The NOSA board improves the Volvo pre-race seminars -- a

series of seminars from Santa Barbara to San Diego that are hosted by the

sponsor Volvo to make sure that people know the boating safety, that

people are aware of supplies and safety requirements on the boats. Safety

is a huge concern because when you're sending 500 boats and upward of

10,000 people in the ocean, safety is very important. So we stress that.

Q: What brought about the Tommy Bahama sponsorship?

A: Part of Rodheim Marketing Group's role is to selectively add

sponsors, and the purpose for the sponsorship is allowing the NOSA board

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