Cross-Border Traditions

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A flotilla of LOWISA boats

A flotilla of LOWISA boats

The Lake of the Woods International Sailing Association will proudly celebrate its 50th annual “LOWISA” regatta the week of August 1-8, and adventure-oriented sailors from both sides of the Canadian border are invited. If you like the idea of spending a week stage-racing along a 100-mile course that wends past glacier-carved islands and offers a great opportunity to meet new friends, keep reading.
LOWISA is held each August on Lake of the Woods, which straddles Ontario and Minnesota and extends some 60 miles to either side of the border. It contains 14,662 islands and boasts 65,000 miles of shoreline. This unique regatta—established in 1965—has been organized by a bi-national association of sailors who alternate leadership duties and work hard to create an event attractive to sailors of all stripes, from polished buoy racers to family crews. The race’s “run-what-ya-brung” ethos encourages sailors to compete in all kinds of boats, from tricked-out keelboats to slippery scows and Hobie Cats. Best yet, each crew can choose from hopped-up Olympic-style starts, decaffeinated pursuit-style starts or simply joining the cruising fleet.
“In 1965, the regatta was largely trailerable daysailers, X-boats and scows,” said Warren White, a veteran LOWISA sailor who has been an active participant since 1983. “Nowadays, most boats are in the 23ft to 35ft range.”
The event starts near Kenora, Ontario, and is run as a series of stage races that are typically 18 to 22 miles apiece. Racing traditionally takes place from approximately 1100 to 1400 on the six racing days, with a midweek lay day at a family-friendly lakeside resort and a Saturday prize-giving ceremony that’s held each year in Northern Harbour, Ontario. Nightly anchorages are in small bays tucked behind the myriad islands on the lake, making for a great week of friends, family and socializing. For more information, visit


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