M.S. Dixie II beats Tahoe Queen in sternwheeler race
Nevada’s M.S. Dixie II edged California’s Tahoe Queen in the annual race between rival tourist boats at Lake Tahoe.
Race spokesman Phil Weidinger said it was the closest finish in the six-year history of what’s billed as the only authentic sternwheeler race west of the Mississippi River.
“It was a photo finish,” he said.
The Zephyr Cove-based Dixie II caught the South Lake Tahoe-based Queen on the homestretch Saturday when the California boat lost power in one of its two wheels for about three minutes.
The Dixie II now leads the series, 4-2, Weidinger said.
The California-Nevada border serves as the start and finish line for the six-mile race at North America’s largest Alpine lake.
Following the race, “pirates” forced Tahoe Queen Captain Chris Gallup to walk the plank and plunge into Lake Tahoe’s chilly waters.
Both sternwheelers were filled to capacity with passengers, while spectators looked on from boats and beaches.
The race was followed by the South Lake Tahoe Yacht Club’s boat parade, which this year featured the theme “Pirates in Polynesia.” The boats were blessed as they passed by the Queen by Father John Grace of St. Theresa Catholic Church. A panel of judges rated parade participants.
The race and parade were part of Opening Day on the Lake activities that also included a geocaching treasure hunt and a Harley Davidson motorcycle rally.
The event officially kicks off the summer tourist season at Lake Tahoe.
– With staff reports