Sternwheelers race for the Tahoe Cup |

Sternwheelers race for the Tahoe Cup

Eric Heinz
Passengers leave the dock Friday at Ski Run Marina aboard the Tahoe Queen sternwheeler. The 2013 Great Lake Tahoe Sternwheeler Race starts today at 11 a.m. at Edgewood Tahoe.
Eric Heinz / Tahoe Daily Tribune | Tahoe Daily Tribune

The Tahoe Cup is once again at stake at The 2013 Great Lake Tahoe Sternwheeler Race.

This year a seasoned veteran and a fresh newcomer will face off for the ultimate captain’s bragging rights. The race starts at 11 a.m. today at Edgewood Tahoe, 100 Lake Parkway, Stateline, Nev.

Two sternwheeler boats, The M.S. Dixie II of Nevada and California’s Tahoe Queen, will race head-to-head while carrying people aboard.

The fastest boat will take home the Tahoe Cup.

The race is about 2 miles long, according to Zephyr Cove Resort officials. The sternwheelers go out past a buoy set up by the U.S. Coast Guard and turn back. The furthest point from the finish line of the course will be set up near Camp Richardson.

Agustin Avila, one of the captains of the Tahoe Queen, will race for his first time. Avila has five years of experience as a captain.

“It’s going to be a really fun race,” Avila said. “It all depends on how we hit that turn and how you hook it. There’s a lot that comes into place when you’re in the water. It’s going to be exciting to have both of Lake Tahoe’s icons racing on the lake.”

Osvaldo “Ozzie” Gonzalez, port captain of The M.S. Dixie II, is in his 15th year as captain. Gonzalez said he enjoys the atmosphere of the crowd on his ship as he breaks for the finish line.

“You get two boats full of people on the outdoor decks, and the boats get really close and everyone cheers about it,” Gonzalez said. “It’s just fun.”

Gonzalez said both boats can reach a speed of up to eight knots (about 9 miles per hour).

Out of the 20 total years of the race, Tahoe Queen won eight times and The M.S. Dixie has won 12 times. The M.S. Dixie II is the reigning champion.

The race originated in 1984 but was put on hold from 1990-97.

The M.S. Dixie II is powered by a Caterpillar engine, but the Tahoe Queen is a true paddle wheeler.

The M.S. Dixie has been in Lake Tahoe since the 1970s, and the Tahoe Queen had its maiden voyage in 1983. Both boats are owned by ARAMARK, of which Zephyr Cove Resort is a division.

The Tahoe Queen is located 900 Ski Run Blvd. South Lake Tahoe at Ski Run Marina Village. The M.S. Dixie II is located at 760 U.S. Highway 50, Zephyr Cove, Nev. at Zephyr Cove Resort. Tickets cost $25 to ride on either boat during the race.

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