Paddlers take on Donner Lake to open race season |

Paddlers take on Donner Lake to open race season

Paddling season is officially underway in the Truckee-Tahoe area.

Dozens of paddlers took off from the Donner Lake shoreline last Saturday morning, kicking off the first round of the Tahoe Waterman Series.

The series, formerly known as the Tahoe Cup, has been renamed this season and is being organized by Tahoe Waterman Paddle Racing.

“Phil Segal, he started the Tahoe Cup in 2009,” said Jay Wild, race organizer, co-owner of Waterman’s Landing, and co-founder of the Lake Tahoe Waterman Association. “Last year he decided he was done with it, so it was either I take it over with my wife (Anik) or all the races went away.

“And so, we took it on and have just tried to figure it out. Last year, we had a couple of races canceled due to weather and we didn’t have it at Donner Lake … but we brought it back. We’re just trying to keep the sport growing and keep people excited about paddling and human-powered watersports.”

After weeks of stormy weather in the area, warm and near-ideal conditions greeted the field of 40 athletes on stand-up paddleboards, outrigger canoes, and surf skis for the race around Donner Lake. The competition started and ended at West End Beach, and took paddlers on a roughly 5-mile trip across the lake and back. Donner Lake was fairly flat as the race began, but about midway through a somewhat rare breeze out of the east picked up to set up a downwind battle to the finish area.

“It doesn’t happen as often, but it does happen,” said Wild on the conditions. “Typically it’s the opposite … it’s either flat or we have a little push on the way down and we have to battle all the way back up.”

Sisters Sage and Delila Quinn were the first female stand-up paddlers to reach the finish line, pulling off a sweep of stand-up racing’s two main divisions, the 12-foot, 6-inch board class and 14-foot board class, respectively.

Delila Quinn was the first female athlete on a board to return to West End Beach, touching the sand with a time of 49 minutes, 39.00 seconds.

“Coming into the first buoy was super difficult with the wind,” said Delila Quinn, who recently switched from racing a 12-foot, 6-inch board, which is more popular among female paddlers, to a 14-foot board.

“I’m trying to keep up with the boys this year so I switched to the 14-footer,” she said.

Quinn managed to outrace several of her male counterparts, finishing fourth overall among stand-up paddlers.

“I’m super stoked and I’m excited for the season,” she said following the race. “I just want to thank everyone — my dad, my mom, Jay and Anik.”

Sage Quinn was the next fastest among female stand-up racers, taking the win in the 12-foot, 6-inch class with a time of 54:06.42. Nina Oakley was second in the division with a time of 57:20.29, followed by Brie Moore with a time of 57:34.85.

In masters’ racing, Thea Liskamm captured first place with a time of 1:07.42.05. In the surf ski division, Carol Lyda ran unopposed, but was the third paddler, regardless of gender and board type, to reach the beach and first woman finisher. Lyda crossed the line with a time of 45:07.15.

On the men’s side, no stand-up paddler could catch Tahoe Vista’s Rand Carter, who paddled around Donner in 49:13.90 to claim first place. Cooper Honeywell was second to the finish line and first in the boys’ 11-17 age group, reaching West End Beach with a time of 49:36.76. Justin Paulson was third with a time of 49:37.00.

In other categories, Keith Rudd was the top overall finisher, claiming first in the outrigger canoe division with a time of 41:48.82. Dave Jensen was second in the category with a time of 44:06.59, followed by Jeff Patrick with a time of 46:28.11.

Joe Quinn took first in the stand-up unlimited division with a time of 51:22.98. Michael Jones was the top prone paddler during the morning, finishing with a time of 59:19.32. Youngster Zenin Quinn was the fastest male paddler on a 12.5-foot board, finishing the race with a time of 1:00:19.57.

The series will now shift to Lake Tahoe for Waterman’s Short Course Racing. The competition will take place on Saturday, June 29 at Waterman’s Landing, and will feature a 3-mile and 1-mile race.

Waterman’s Landing will host a season-opening party following the race. There will also be a fundraiser for the Lake Tahoe Waterman Association, whose mission is to promote human-powered watercraft education and safety, while being stewards of the land and the lake.

To register for the next competition or for more information, visit

Results courtesy of

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at

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