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The Harbor Report: Hoping to build local race participation

November 27, 2013|By Len Bose
  • One of Newport Beach's 2013 most interesting yachts.
One of Newport Beach's 2013 most interesting yachts. (Len Bose )

Over the past 10 years, the participation in local races of our big sailboats, often referred to as "keel boats," ranging in size from 20 to 60 feet, has been rapidly declining.

Our concern has been with our spring and summer series. A series is a number of races spread over different weekends. We are at a point where all our local clubs are considering not hosting their respected series. So, in an effort to increase attendance, fleet captains from our local yacht clubs met recently to discuss this issue and share ideas.

My take from the meeting is that we need to step up our efforts in marketing the races and start looking for different types of events to host. Over the next couple of months, I will be working with Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club fleet captain Paul DeCapua in developing a marketing program that will send the boat owner a personal invitation to sign up to our series, a phone call and follow-up emails.

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The Newport Harbor Yacht Club took this approach two years ago and had a huge turnout for its Ahmanson Cup Series that year. The numbers are still out there, and, from my count, we still have more than 60 boats that could participate in our outside events.

My hopes are that each club will share its prospects lists and encourage its members to participate in the Newport High Point Series. This will allow each club to host a large event in the hope of increasing its own series attendance.

What I need from the boat owners and, more importantly, the crew members is that they accept our phone calls, enter next year's Newport Beach High Point Series and ask their skippers to race in our local events. When you start to draw up your racing calendar for next year, please consider our local series. Send me your ideas on the types of events you would like to race in, or tell me why you have stopped racing locally.

Let's move on to something that I enjoy reporting on each year at this time: Newport Beach's 20 most interesting yachts. This story is done in fun and coincides with other lists, from the 100 largest yachts to the world's wealthiest people down to the Daily Pilot's 103 list.

I spent a couple of days cruising the bay checking out boats that I have seen over this past season. My choices were made based on boats that I feel are interesting and demonstrate the character of our harbor.

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