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Smooth sailing to Ensenada

Participants in 63rd yacht race say stories of drug-related violence in Mexico are blown out of proportion.

April 23, 2010|By Joseph Serna

At the end of a week of overcast, gray skies and shiver-inducing winds, Newport Beach found itself blanketed in the sun’s warmth Friday afternoon.

It was as if the weather cleared to honor an event that’s been smooth sailing for 63 years: the Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race.

Even with participation at a low not seen in years, everyone who crowded onto Balboa Pier to watch the beginning of the race was confident that it’d be around for years to come because of one word: tradition.

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“It’s a neat, old-time race. I hope it sparks interest with new people,” said Sharon Richley, a Newport Beach resident.

Richley used to sail in the Newport-Ensenada regatta with her ex-husband and still goes out to watch the launch, even though she’s not an avid sailor anymore.

Looking out over the coast off the Balboa Peninsula, she noted it wasn’t as crowded as in years past.

“I hope it’s just the economy. I think as the economy gets better more boats will come out. I hope,” she said.

Mindy Froehlich and her family went all out for their fifth consecutive Newport-Ensenada race. Wearing matching blue shirts that said “Newport to Ensenada” on the back, Froehlich, her mother, grandmother and daughter ate at Ruby’s Restaurant on the pier and cheered on their men.

“It’s a time for them to spend quality time together on a boat. It’s not like they have anywhere they can go,” she said, laughing.

For the first time in their five years of racing, the family had three generations on the water and four watching. Grandfather Mike McCartney, Nik Froehlich (Mindy’s husband), and their son, Ari, were aboard their yacht, Tara. Last year, they placed third, Mindy Froehlich said, and this year they’re shooting for first.

Violence in Mexico is routinely blamed for keeping families and sailors out of the annual race. Froehlich said that those fears are overblown and that, in the last five years, she’s never had problems south of the border.

The 125-nautical mile race is expected to end today and be followed by a party in Ensenada.


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