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Great Oaks Regatta This Weekend on Lake Ponchartrain

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Great Oaks High School Regatta, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl and hosted by the Southern Yacht Club, will be contested this weekend (Nov. 23-24) on Lake Ponchartrain. This is the 16th edition of the event and the fifth sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl. There will be practice sailing on Friday, while the actual competition will take place on Saturday and Sunday.

Sugar Bowl Regatta History

This year's Great Oaks Regatta is expected to include 42 high school teams and over 180 sailors. Each school brings two skippers/drivers and up to two crew (one light, one heavier) for each skipper to match the wind conditions. Each school will be sailing two at a time on a 14-foot boat called a 420. Each race lasts an average of 15 minutes and then the competitors switch boats so that each team has the opportunity to sail in as many of the boats as possible in case some of the boats are different. The school with the lowest combined score from the full slate of races is declared the winner.

Schools from 17 different states as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands, will take part in the event - the school traveling the furthest distance is Cape Elizabeth High School, from 1,620 miles away in Maine. Last year's winners were Ransom Everglades (Miami, Fla.) and Long Beach (Miss.) High School.

Local high schools with teams in this weekend's event include: Brother Martin, Christ Episcopal, Jesuit, Louis S. McGehee, Metairie Park Country Day, Mount Carmel, St. Martin's Episcopal and Ursuline.

Click here for a look at the history of the event.

Next weekend (Nov. 29-30), the second Sugar Bowl Regatta event of the year, the Optimist Midwinters, will be contested on Lake Ponchartrain. Optimist sailors are assigned to a "Fleet" according to age. The "White Fleet" includes skippers who are under 10 on the opening day of the Regatta. "Blue Fleet" skippers are 11 or 12 years old and "Red Fleet" skippers are 13-15 years old. The Optimist Midwinters are expected to include 100-125 sailors and their families in town for the event.

The Sugar Bowl Regatta has been held on Lake Ponchartrain every year since 1935, except during World War II. The original sailing competition is divided up into two separate phases, spread out over four two-day periods, usually weekends, beginning in late November and concluding on New Year's Eve.