CANADA-LOW250Imagine a place for a family vacation that you will never forget; a lake so beautiful and so vast that you could probably never see all of it. But, what if there was an event that could quickly connect you to a way to explore a lot of it in safety and in an organized fashion?

Imagine a sailing event where serenity meets social, sport meets wilderness, and the winds are boss for 7 days straight. Such is the delight of LOWISA regatta participants, an annual sailing race on Lake of Woods in North Western Ontario. LOWISA (Lake of the Woods International Sailing Association) is currently in its 43rd year, and is a long time favorite for sailors from all over Canada and the United States, and beyond. Every year, the fleet of 50 or so keel boats and skiffs will begin (and finish) the race near Kenora, Ontario, in the northern part of the lake. The courses are set to meander by the many islands of Lake of the Woods, through the pristine wilderness to destinations such as Sioux Narrows, Ontario or Oak Island, Minnesota for the midway layover day.  It is a unique vacation that lends itself well to family and friends, trailers and boats, racing and relaxing.

Getting there is easy: Kenora is only 2 hours east of Winnipeg, and 6.5 hours west of Thunder Bay.  The area is known as cottage country and is a hub for cottagers, boaters, campers, fishing, hunting and general lake enthusiasts. Lake of the Woods is one of Canada’s biggest lakes, with over 14,000 islands and more than 10,000 kms of shoreline. It stretches from Ontario to Manitoba to Minnesota. The landscape and waters vary depending on where you are- the northern part of the lake features granite cliffs, white pine forests, and water depths of more than 100 feet. The south end of the lake is dominated by the Big Traverse Bay, spanning close to 150 kilometers, and has clear water and white sand beaches. Boating culture is a way of life- as many cottages are on islands and accessible only by water. Lake of the Woods is a popular tourist destination because of the abundant and accessible recreational activities and services, its history, the rich landscape and breath-taking beauty.

This year the LOWISA Regatta is scheduled from August 2-9. Registration is on Aug 2 at the Harbourfront Pavilion, followed by a Skippers meeting that evening and a Sailors Social. Kenora has many boat launches and marinas, services and shops to ensure that you will have all you need for the week of racing. Registration also coincides with Kenora’s annual Harbourfest, a street festival that always has great entertainment, food and shopping.

Throughout the week, one can expect varied weather, healthy competition (or there’s a cruising division), various post-racing activities- Mount Gay Rum Party, movie and pizza night, and the Canadian Tire Kids fishing contest, to name a few. Typically, racing starts at 10am, and most boats cross the finish line by 3pm. The evenings are free for activities and socializing. Anchorages are selected in advance and are sheltered and secluded to accommodate the entire fleet.

Often, boats will raft their sterns together to make a star formation, or perhaps nose- in to shore to explore or set up a tent. This year, the layover day will be held at White Pine Resort, south of the town of Sioux Narrows. Special events are planned such as yoga sessions, rock painting tours, kids activities, fishing and golfing specials for those who want to stretch their legs. For the die-hards, there is always the Layover Day triangle race, an opportunity to switch up your crew and offload some gear for a little more edge.

LOWISA is a special getaway in that you can have the comfort of your own boat while exploring one of the most beautiful lakes in Canada. It’s a wonderful way to meet like-minded people and shape your vacation the way you want it. Its versatility has been key to the success of the LOWISA Regatta over the years. There are many types of boats, different skill levels, and new activities to complement the traditional favorites. The LOWISA volunteer organizing committee works hard to plan the event, and are on hand throughout the week to offer support and resources as needed.  The fleet is like a floating community- LOWISA has been a tradition on Lake of the Woods for many years and for many people, now is the time to make it your own.

Marinas and Boat Launches

Northern Harbour –full service marina and boat launch, and long term parking (no website)

Phone: 807-548-5719, Fax: 807-548-4338

Contact: Gary Hall

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more info at

Wharf Marina (no website)- near Harbourfront

232 Water Street

Kenora, ON P9N 1S4

(807) 468-5497

City of Kenora boat launches are at the foot of Matheson Street

Lake of the Woods Tourism Information

Lake of the Woods Tourism

Official website for City of Kenora

Kenora’s Visitors Guide

Lowisa Website