Great Oaks Regatta this weekend on Lake Pontchartrain

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Optimist-Midwinter-Regatta-2009

NEW ORLEANS – The Great Oaks High School Regatta, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl and hosted by the Southern Yacht Club, will be contested this weekend (November 18-19) on Lake Pontchartrain. This is the 20th edition of the event and the ninth sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl. There will be practice sailing on Friday, while the actual competition will take place on Saturday and Sunday.

This year’s Great Oaks Regatta is expected to include 34 high school teams and nearly 175 sailors. Each school brings two skippers/drivers and up to two crews (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 are scheduled to compete.

Next weekend, on Thanksgiving Friday and Saturday (November 24-25), the third Sugar Bowl Sponsored Regatta event of the year, the Optimist Midwinters, will be contested on Lake Pontchartrain. 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 120 sailors and their families in town for the event.

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

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