A look at some of our favorite paddleboard races

By Luke Yates


Paddleboarding has come a long way in the last ten years. The sport, which has its roots in surf rescue, has surged in popularity, with an ever-increasing range of specialized equipment and events throughout California. Alongside the traditional prone version associated with surfing, stand-up paddleboarding has become increasingly popular as well. ASJ has been profiling this sport from the very beginning, and these are three of our favorite events happening this summer.


Jay Race
June 18, Capitola

The Jay Moriarity Memorial Paddleboard Race, commonly known as the Jay Race, will celebrate its 15th anniversary this year. Hundreds of spectators and competitors will descend on Capitola and the beautiful waters of Monterey Bay for this unique event. Presented for the first time by New Leaf Community Markets, the Jay Race has both a 12-mile course and a two-mile short course, for both prone and stand-up paddleboarders.

For all-round paddlers, there is also the Waterman Challenge. This event is made up of a 500m swim, 1500m prone paddle and a 1000m stand-up paddle.

“We absolutely love the Waterman Challenge. It is definitely the most spectator friendly race,” says race organizer Duke Brouwer. “It keeps people on the beach. They don’t want to miss it. We could see close to a hundred competitors.”

Jay Moriarity was a world-class surfer renowned for his love of the ocean, all-round skill on the water and enthusiastic and open personality. He died in 2001 at the age of 22. Moriarity was well known for surfing the huge waves at Mavericks, close to Half Moon Bay, but it is his spirit and passion that is remembered most. The event aims to encourage all athletes, regardless of age or gender, to enjoy the ocean, and to “Live like Jay,” through friendly competition.

Proceeds from the event are distributed by the Jay Moriarity Foundation, and will benefit several local charities. These include local junior lifeguard associations and Ocean of Hope, a team of paddlers that supports cancer sufferers by dedicating their race efforts and raising awareness to cancer patients.

For more information check out the Jay Race on Facebook.


Ta-Hoe Nalu
August 12-14, Kings Beach

Celebrating its tenth year, Ta-Hoe Nalu brings the feel of a traditional Hawaiian paddle festival to the spectacular Kings Beach on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. Quickly becoming a must-do event for anyone associated with all forms of paddleboarding, Ta-Hoe Nalu was founded in 2007 by Ernie Brassard.

During the event, hundreds of competitors and thousands of spectators will help create a party atmosphere in the high Sierra. The three-day event begins on Friday afternoon with paddleboarding workshops, yoga and exhibits. Racing begins on Saturday morning and continues through to Sunday, with competitions in prone and stand-up paddling, as well as outrigger racing. Distances vary from the ten-mile long course event to two-mile beginner races.

Brassard had seen friends playing around on stand-up paddleboards so he purchased his own from Bob Pearson at Arrow Surfboards in Santa Cruz. After paddling the clear Tahoe waters a few times, he was soon hooked on this new way to enjoy the lake.

Brassard says, “Pearson was joking around one time. He says, ‘You know, maybe we should come up and do some kind of crossing and paddle on the lake.’” The idea stuck. Brassard mentioned it to a few people and Chris Thibaut, owner of Jake’s on the Lake restaurant in Tahoe City, offered to throw a party on the Friday night before the paddle. Brassard and Pearson put the word out, and the race was on. They were joined by friends from Santa Cruz and Southern California, to paddle the eight miles to Captain Jon’s restaurant in Tahoe Vista.

“We had so much fun that year, that we said, ‘We’ve got to do this again.’ And that’s how it all started.” says Brassard. “We never expected to be doing this ten years later.”

For more information on this year’s event, including how to register, visit tahoenalu.com.

Tahoe Cup Paddle Racing Series
Waterman’s Paddle Jam, July 9 & Fall Classic, September 11


The Tahoe Cup Paddle Racing Series takes place throughout the summer, with the first event on Donner Lake in mid-May. The second and third events both take place on Lake Tahoe and offer recreational paddlers and more serious racers the chance to compete in SUP, prone paddleboard and outrigger races.

The Waterman’s Paddle Jam is a six-mile race and takes place at the Waterman’s Landing in Carnelian Bay, North Lake Tahoe. Hundreds of competitors are expected to be at the start line, and there will be equipment demos following the race.

The Tahoe Fall Classic is the longest inland paddleboard race in the world, at 22 miles, and will welcome more than 150 athletes from around the world. It begins at El Dorado Beach in South Lake Tahoe and finishes at the Mourelatos Lakeshore Resort in Tahoe Vista.

The Fall Classic will be part of the first annual Tahoe Vista Paddlefest, a two day beach event held at the Mourelatos Lakeshore Resort. This is a weekend to celebrate all things paddling, with a paddleboard expo, equipment demos, yoga and live music.

According to race organizer Phil Segal, in the early years participation would increase by 100% each year. While this has slowed slightly, the fantastic atmosphere at the races continues to fuel the popularity of the sport. “The kids are what’s driving this sport. That’s the future. You see a big family atmosphere at the races. They’re all participating and really cheering everybody on.” says Segal. “These kids are more aggressive and competitive than the adults are!”

The Tahoe Cup is hosted by the Lake Tahoe Paddleboard Association. Their mission is to promote human-powered paddlesport activities in the Tahoe Basin.

For more information on the Tahoe Cup Paddle Series, visit tahoecup.org.