Sailing Into Spring

For me, Spring is indeed my most favorite time of the year. The strawberries are bursting with flavor, gardens are in bloom, the weather is warming and the days are longer.

A fun local April happening is the annual Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race, which this year will proudly celebrate its 70th year. Yes, this event began here in 1947. Each year, race participants, crews and their families arrive days ahead in preparation for the race. And, the bonus is they also can spend time in our wonderful slice of coastal heaven here in Newport Beach. The Newport Ocean Sailing Association (NOSA) is anticipating more sailors will enter the race than they’ve seen in recent history.

Mark your calendar! On Friday, April 28, around 10 a.m., join us on the historic Balboa Pier in Newport Beach for a spectacular “send-off.” It is really breathtaking to see so many yachts setting sail on the southward trek to Ensenada, Mexico. We scream and shout, wave flags, take pictures and shower the yachts with lots of good wishes. The crews on the boats just love all the attention. They are pumped up and ready to go on this overnight, action-packed 125-mile journey southbound. (They will begin departing at 11 a.m. However, I like to arrive early and get parked, grab a cup of joe and stake my favorite spot on the pier.)

According to historical documents written by the founders in 1947, NOSA’s goal was to create an inclusive environment and the encouragement of all types of sailboats to participate in the now venerable spring classic.

“The 70th race will provide racers many opportunities to enjoy the N2E race experience,” says Commodore Tom Kennedy.
This year’s race will be the first time all three courses will run simultaneously. Racers first had the option of the alternative 176-mile Transpacific qualifier course around San Clemente Island in 2015. Last year, NOSA offered an optional short-course for cruisers and smaller PHRF-class racers that started off Shelter Island in San Diego Harbor. (Here is the official web site: NewportToEnsenada.com)

For many teams, there are two efforts happening simultaneously. There are those navigating their way south, and a whole other crew who are driving down in a big caravan to meet them for the big celebration in Mexico. The yachts arrive at various times on Saturday. As you can imagine, there is quite a celebration party Saturday night at Hotel Coral and Marina, the host hotel. Then, on Sunday, more than 40 trophies are awarded during the awards ceremony.

Here is a fun factoid–within easy walking distance from the hotel is Sano’s Steak House. I have interviewed the owner Juan Hussong in the past. He comes from a long line of restaurateurs–his grandfather was the founder of the famous Hussong’s Cantina in the heart of downtown. (I have a few stories from Hussong’s that will go unshared.) When I asked Juan about the name “Sano’s,” he indicated it was the nickname of Juan’s father, which translates to “being healthy.” The restaurant offers prime steaks, using a family dry-rub recipe, which sounds amazing!

So, whether your spring plans tempt you into the garden, a bike ride along the coast or cheering on the sailors in the 2017 N2E race, enjoy your time in the glorious out-of-doors. Yay to spring!

Deirdre Michalski is a travel and culinary writer covering topics near and far. You can read more about her adventures on her website TastesAndTravel.com.