Family-oriented fun and good-spirited competition are expected to take place during the 79th annual Flight of the Lasers race Sunday. Newport Ocean Sailing Assn. is hosting the free event on behalf of The Commodores Club of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce.

All ages are welcome in the race that starts at 1 p.m., west of the Balboa Pavilion and will take about 90 minutes to sail around Newport Harbor.

"NOSA is excited to help the Commodores Club and the City of Newport Beach keep this great tradition moving forward," Gator Cook, Balboa Yacht Club Fleet Captain and NOSA Director said in a release. "And we're grateful for Sailing Pro Shop, that has graciously donated prizes for this year's event."

The race originated in 1936 as "The Flight of the Snowbirds" which sailed in small wooden dinghies called Snowbirds. In 1975, when the Snowbirds aged out, the race became "Flight of The Lasers" when the light fiberglass, Olympic-class dinghies were adopted by yacht clubs for their junior programs.

The Laser community claimed in 2012, more than 200,000 of the identical 13-foot, 10 1/2-inch boats exist worldwide. Advocates of the class say its continued popularity is due to its robust feel despite being simple to rig and sail.

Additionally, the boat's small size and weight makes them a great choice to sail in Newport Beach's typically light winds.

Organizers here say that Flight of the Lasers was the starting point for many local blue-water racers. However, the event is designed to be fun.

More than 60 entries are expected to compete for about a dozen trophies in categories that include First-place Married Couple, Best Decorated Boat and Best Costume.

Participants and their families are invited to the Newport Harbor Yacht Club for refreshments and the award presentations immediately after the race.

"We are hoping for a great turnout. We really appreciate the support of our great sponsors," said club representative Brett Hemphill. "The Commodores Club welcomes the support that NOSA has provided to the Flight of the Lasers."

To register for the event or for more information, go to flightofthelasers.org, a new web site dedicated to the event, or call Newport Harbor Yacht Club at (949) 673-7730.

— From staff reports