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New Orleans and its Marina District, West End is located on the southern shores of the 633 square miles of Lake Pontchartrain and is home to one of the city’s oldest and most character filled neighborhoods.

Since 1830, West End has hosted a thriving maritime and recreational boating lifestyle and unfortunately, before Hurricane Katrina, it was the destination for over-the-water seafood dining.

West End consists of a 60 acre central park and marina complex book ended by the New Orleans and Southern Yacht Clubs. It is home to three sailing associations, multiple restaurants, bars and the city’s largest marina all within easy walking distance. It is the ideal location for any racing event and has hosted multiple national events, class championships and team racing regattas. It is also home to the start of the western hemisphere’s longest running point-to-point regatta – the Race to the Coast.

Lake Pontchartrain, which is actually misnamed, is more akin to a bay and it’s notoriously quirky winds have given rise to some of the country’s most talented sailors including two members of the current US Olympic team, John Dane (Stars) and Johnny Lovell (Tornado) as well as Ryan Finn (Mini) and Benz Faget (nearly everything). It is also home to the Olympic team of Buddy Friedrichs, Barton Jahncke and Click Schreck who pulled home gold medals for the United States in 1968.

With an average mean depth of 12 feet and what has been described as schizophrenic winds, the lake is arguably one of the most challenging places to sail in the United States.

John Dane III, 56, and teammate Austin Sperry represented the US in the Star Class at the 2008 Olympic Games. “Growing up sailing on Lake Pontchartrain offered the ideal conditions to excel at this sport,” says Dane, one of the older athletes to compete in the games. “The winds out on the lake are shifty and because the lake is so shallow, the water conditions can range from flat to rough and choppy, which all forces one to be adaptive. Tack onto this the fact that I was always being mentored by world champions in New Orleans, and Lake Pontchartrain and the Gulf Coast become ideal training grounds.”

– FEBRUARY – 65 degrees
– MARCH – 72 degrees

Links to sailing in New Orleans: