North Sails LOFT NEWS

Story Contributors: Drew Mitchell


Locals Gather For Annual Regatta

North Sails expert Drew Mitchell out of Vancouver reports from the annual LOWISA regatta in Lake of the Woods.

After 54 years of LOWISA being the sailing event to attend within Manitoba and Western Ontario, the 55th edition  had to be postponed to July 31- August 7, 2021 due to Covid-19.  

If you have not heard about LOWISA before, it is an amazing race with a lot of history. Back when sailing was thriving, the regatta would get over 100 boats! There are many families who have been racing LOWISA for many generations. The regatta is a 7 day, 6 stage distance race around Lake of the Woods nearby Kenora, ON. On a normal year, the Regatta starts off at Northern Harbour just outside Kenora and loops around islands of Lake Of Woods, some of the time even going down into the US.

They usually do roughly 20-30 NM legs per day and end up all at the same anchorage for the night. All the boats raft up after racing and start making dinner, enjoy a cocktail and talk about the day of racing. Depending on the day,  there are social events such as island rum parties, cocktail making competitions and I’ve even seen a float plane fly in pizza for a pizza party! After three days of amazing racing around islands they choose a fishing lodge and have a layover day. The layover day is always a good day for rest but also fun activities. The standard activities are a football game, USA VS CANADA, a talent show, paddle board race and a North Sails presentation.

After the lay day is over, they race three more legs back to Northern Harbour where they have the awards after the last day of racing. A neat part of LOWISA is they give out awards for 1st, 2nd and 3rd but the awards that are most sought after are the LOWISA Spirit Award, the award for the boat that overcame the most obstacles to get to the event and the sailor that was showed the most sportsmanship during the event. These awards always get the most cheers and laughs as they ask the winner to come up and give a short speech. 

This year’s informal gathering was a bit different without the friends from the south and a formal itinerary. There were raft ups at the anchorages but these were kept smaller with little to no on shore activities. They spent one night at a fishing camp where a dinner was offered outside and eaten at picnic tables. I also ran a North Sails talk about sail maintenance and repair. Despite the restrictions, the week was a great time with great cruising and even better weather. 

Everyone is looking forward to the 55th edition of LOWISA as Commodore James and his team have now had two years to plan it. It’s going to be one for the ages and I think everyone is excited to have the Americans back and proper sanctioned racing to be had.

Let us know if you would like to join the fleet. They would be ecstatic to have you join.

Please check out or Lowisa on Facebook for updates.

Story Contributors

Event Spotlight: LOWISA 2020 headshot
Drew Mitchell

Sail Expert — Vancouver, British Columbia

Drew Mitchell grew up sailing at the Lunenburg Yacht Club in Nova Scotia. He has raced on and coached high performance one design for nearly 20 years. Drew races in the Melges 24, Farr 30 and the TP 52 PNW...

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