Waterskiers from around the world will take part in the 63rd annual Catalina Ski Race, July 16, hosted by Long Beach Boat and Ski Club. 62 mile Ski Race from Long Beach to Catalina Island and Back.

The 62-mile challenge will start at 8:53 a.m. between Island White and Island Grissom in Long Beach Harbor. Fast powerboats will tow skiers to Avalon's Descanso Beach before heading back to the finish line in Long Beach, off Queen Mary's bow.

Pre-event activities will begin at 9 a.m. July 15 with the 17th annual Special Needs Children's Day, at Long Beach Marine Stadium. The day will include many water-related activities, prizes and food for children participating. According to Catalina Ski Race director Ken Vaughan, 15 percent of the nearly $3,000 raised this year through sponsorships will be donated to this special event.

Race boat inspections will take place from noon to 3 p.m. July 15 at the launch ramp area near Hotel Maya, on the Esplanade. The day will end with an International Reception at the hotel, at 6 p.m.

Race day festivities will open with a ski team parade at 7 a.m. A post-race trophy presentation is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Hotel Maya.

This year's Catalina Ski Race will feature 22 classes ranging from masters (men or women age 60 or older) to juniors (boys and girls age 15 and younger). The competition also attracts many international skiers from Europe and Australia.

Vaughan said the Catalina Ski Race is the highlight of the summer for many people. "We're the only waterski race in the world where everybody starts at once," he said. "We also are the only ones that allow 43-foot boats to participate. It's also an ideal location, skiing from Long Beach to Catalina. The skiers like the challenge out there in the open ocean. They say the first 10 miles are the most difficult."

According to Vaughan, last year, out of the 84 teams that started, only 74 finished the race. This year, he expects more than 70 teams to compete. All participants will receive a T-shirt declaring "I Survived," while each winning class member in first, second and third place will receive commemorative pewter plates.

This year, racing fans will be able to watch a live video stream of the event from their home computers, at riverdavesplace.com.

Vaughan said he and his all-volunteer staff are already planning a "bigger and better" race for next year.

"I think about this race every day," he said. "Our goal is to put on a good event, have fun and be safe."

For more information, visit catalinaskirace.net.