9th Annual Tahoe Nalu Paddle Festival
The 9th Annual 2015 Ta-Hoe Nalu Paddle Festival coins itself as the Worlds Original Standup Paddleboard Race and that it is. Speaking from experience, my first standup paddle race was the Tahoe Nalu back in 2009, I have the event t-shirt to prove it. Since that first race in 2009 I have been committed lots of paddle races in California, Hawaii and Utah but always call The Ta-Hoe Nalu home. As my previous post explained, the Nalu has seen oh so many changes over the last 6 years since that race in 2009. This years 9th Annual Tahoe Nalu carried the same cool paddle festival vibe that I always remember. Hosted again in Kings Beach on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe over 250 paddlers took to the Big Blue in outrigger canoes, on standup and prone paddle boards.
On Saturday morning, the 10 mile race took off around 9:30am with staggered starts amongst the different paddle craft. For this race I chose to paddle an outrigger canoe (Ehukai-Puakea). There were a couple of OC-6’s and around 16 OC-1/2’s. Pretty strong field of paddlers I soon found out. SUP and Prones started about 4 minutes after us. It was a glorious day on the water, almost no wind and relatively flat for the speedy run into Crystal Bay. Deep, crystal clear water greeted us as we made the final buoy turns at the half way turn around point of the race. Being somewhat of a newbie to the OC-1 scene I was just trying to keep up with a pod of three other canoes including standup paddler Nina Oakley, she was making me work all the way to the finish. I had a great vantage point of the lead standup paddlers as they were behind us. Rand Carter was off the front on his unlimited board with Keith McConaughey a minute or so back on a 14ft board. Fast times on fast water was the talk of the morning race. Full results by class from the 10 mile race are here. But wait the day was not over as there was a 2 Mile Race and a Grom race that went off in the morning and early afternoon, here are the results for the Grom Race and the 2 Mile Race.
The highlight of Saturday besides the racing was the killer food court Ernie Brassard assembled, great food vendors offered up bacon wrapped hot dogs, crepes, sushi and other assorted delectables. Of course a good food court was not complete without the Kona Brewing Beer tent, I had a couple of those with my buddy Brian Thomas, in fact I had a couple beer right before the Waterman’s Challenge event in the afternoon. What’s the Watermans Challenge you ask? Pretend you are a Aussie/US Lifeguard, this event is how they challenge their waterman skill in swimming, then prone paddling then finish it up with some standup paddle. 4 person heats, no wetsuits and absolutely flat out as hard as you can go. Jay Wild organized this event and frankly it’s a blast but you better be ready to hurl afterwards. And don’t drink beers or eat hot dogs prior to racing! Had good fun but training is advisable.
The Ta-Hoe Nalu is one fun weekend but still seems to be finding its way amongst so many other paddle races happening in the month of August. Many paddlers chose to head to the Columbia Gorge for the Gorge Paddle Challenge which happen this coming weekend. Too many races in close proximity is becoming an issue and unfortunately dilutes all of the races collectively. More on this topic at a later date.
Can’t finish this recap without paying homage to Jay and Anik Wild for their incredible work they are doing with Tahoe Waterman. Their athletes d(young and old) are true waterman/waterwoman who work hard and their hard work pays off with impressive results.
Chris Hollingsworth you are the master MC, superb work this past weekend at the Nalu. Always nice to see you and your family. Ernie Brassard many thanks for your continued and undying support of paddling, specifically standup paddle. The Nalu is the event that started it all. Many thanks to all of the exhibitors and sponsors of the Tahoe Nalu this year. And last but not least Big Sky Endurance Timing, thank you.