Ta-Hoe Nalu paddles into Kings Beach for 11th year on Aug. 12-13 | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Ta-Hoe Nalu paddles into Kings Beach for 11th year on Aug. 12-13

Justin Scacco | jscacco@sierrasun.com

Billed as the world’s first stand-up paddleboard race, Ta-Hoe Nalu Paddle Festival will return to Kings Beach this weekend for two days of competition, contests, and festivities.

More than 2,000 people are expected to take over the beach during the two days as the festival enters its 11th year on the lake.

Ta-Hoe Nalu started in 2007 with just 32 people attending the event, and has since grown to include hundreds of racers and thousands of attendees.

Paddleboarders have become a common sight on Lake Tahoe, but that hasn’t always the case. In the early 2000s, surfer Ernie Brassard and friends were among the first paddling the lake on their surfboards and trying to catch waves on windy days.

“It was about surfing and playing on the water,” Brassard said. “Later I got in a bad mountain biking accident … that was in 2006.”

In order to rehabilitate the injury suffered to his shoulder from mountain biking, Brassard said he borrowed a stand-up paddleboard from Santa Cruz board shaper Bob Pearson and began paddling around Tahoe.

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Soon after, the sport began taking off on Tahoe, prompting Brassard to put on the first Ta-Hoe Nalu the following year.

After a decade of racing, the festival has grown to include outrigger canoe races, dancing, music, raffles, and other contests.

This year’s festival will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12, with the dancers of Halau Hula’O Leilani kicking off the opening ceremonies with traditional Polynesian dances.

New this year will be a two-hour paddle tour called First Stroke designed to get first-timers and those who aren’t interested in competing out on the water.

“More than half the people that come will never race,” Brassard said of the new event. “We’ve always embraced the new paddlers, the beginners, and the kids”

This year’s festival will also include more categories of racing, and an inflatable water arena where paddleboards can take part in free stand-up paddleboard polo games.

The first day of racing will take place on Saturday at 9 a.m. with a five-mile race from Kings Beach to Crystal Bay and back. Registration for the race begins at 7 a.m. and costs $40 for stand-up and prone boarders, and $60 for outrigger canoe paddlers.

Jay Wild’s Waterman Challenge will also take place during the day with a 1 p.m. start time. The challenge will include three legs — swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, and prone paddleboarding. The price of the race is $30.

The rest of the day will include free paddleboard demos from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with face painting and sand castle building contests, and awards and raffles after each event.

Sunday will also include free paddleboard demos from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunday’s racing will kick off at 8:30 a.m. with a 10-mile paddle race from Kings Beach to Incline Village and back. Registration for the race begins at 7 a.m. and is $40 for stand-up and prone boarders, and $60 for outrigger canoes.

There will also be a 2-mile race at 8:50 a.m., taking place on a half-mile course just off Kings Beach. Beginning at 11:30 a.m. children ages 12-and-under will have races, followed by the Sprint Elimination Challenge at 1 p.m.

There will also be free paddleboard demos from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

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