Sunny skies for Thunderbird Paddle Festival |

Sunny skies for Thunderbird Paddle Festival

Lee Novale races to a 10th-place finish in the Thunderbird Paddling Festival 4-mile race on Saturday.
Courtesy Sean Lefrak / Lefrak Photography |

Thunderbird Paddling Festival

8-mile race (top 5)

1. Adam Freeman, hometown unknown, 1:24:11

2. Josiah Bracket, South Lake Tahoe, 1:24:332

3. Grant McFadyen, Redwood City, 1:25:16

4. Ryan Funk, Truckee, 1:25:22

5. Steve Funk, Truckee, 1:25:26

4-mile race (top 5)

1. Keith Andersen, Bishop, 41:18

2. Jay Valois, Tahoe City, 43:56

3. Mike Tessier, hometown unknown, 45:25

4. Robert Christensen, Gardnerville, 47:30

5. Marc Andrews, Incline Village, 47:41

Big Blue Waterman Challenge

1. Josiah Brackett

2. Keith Meter

3. Steve Funk

4. Don Low

Warm summer conditions greeted participants in the Thunderbird Paddling Festival at Sand Harbor this past Saturday.

The Big Blue Adventure event featured two paddleboard races, of 8 and 4 miles, with a course that passed the iconic Thunderbird Lodge on Tahoe’s east shore. The festivities also included the Big Blue Waterman Challenge, which combined stand-up paddleboarding with swimming and beach running.

A total of 49 people completed the 8-mile race, while 36 did the 4-mile.

Adam Freeman, 35, whose hometown is not listed on the results, won the 8-mile with a time of 1 hour, 24 minutes, 11 seconds. Fifteen-year-old Josiah Bracket of South Lake Tahoe was not far behind, as he finished runner-up with a time of 1:24:32.

Grant McFadyen, 46, of Redwood City rounded out the top three in 1:25:16 and was followed by Truckee’s Ryan Funk (1:25:22) and Steve Funk (1:25:26). Damori Estrada of South Lake Tahoe was ninth and Dax Willard of Tahoe City was 10th.

Reno resident Nina Oakley, 33, was the top woman and 22nd overall in 1:34:22. She was followed by Wendy Ackerman of Homewood (1:38:54) and Daphne Hougard (1:41:51).

In the 4-mile race, 60-year-old Keith Andersen of Bishop took the win with a time of 41:18. Jay Valois, 17, of Tahoe City placed second in 43:56 and Mike Tessier was third in 45:25. They were trailed by Robert Christensen of Gardnerville (47:30) and Marc Andrews of Incline Village (47:41).

Helen Gallagher of Sacramento finished first in the women’s field and 13th overall in 52:37. Cathy Huang of San Francisco was the second woman and Jamie Emery was third.

In the Big Blue Waterman Challenge, Brackett claimed the top spot and was followed by Keith Meter, Steve Funk and Don Low.

Find complete results at and a photo gallery at

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