The Lake Tahoe Downwind Championship, the Kaspian Downwinder is a classic downwind run for the Team Tahoe Waterman crew, whenever the wind allows. Lake Tahoe is a sleeper downwind destination. The lake has a big fetch with afternoon high winds, a great combination for riding bumps and gliding across pristine waters.
The prevailing winds at Lake Tahoe are out of the southwest, although you do see some variation throughout the day. In the summer, morning winds tend to “clock around” from light and easterly to southeasterly to southerly and finally over to southwesterly not long after 1:00 in the afternoon.
The winds at Lake Tahoe are also a little flukey, because of the tall mountains that ring the lake, the elevation (which, at 6,229 ft. above sea level, means the air is about 17% less dense than at sea level), and the narrow canyons along the west shore that tend to funnel the wind in a noticeable way in the afternoons. Cold fronts coming in from the Pacific also tend to bring powerful, gusty conditions, and it’s not unusual to see 25+ miles per hour winds gust on the lake when one of these storms hits the Sierra Nevada.
The afternoon canyon winds, especially Blackwood Canyon on the west shore of Lake Tahoe are relatively predictable and enjoyable, especially when you’re up for a little adventure. The numerous canyons on the west shore focus and accelerate the wind, proving great downwind conditions for miles and exhilarating rides. Unlike the east shore, the water along the west shore remains fairly flat, as it is the windward side of the lake, so you’re in for a smooth, fast, and fun downwind paddle.
Because there are a few little tricks that you will want to know, make sure to listen in during the race briefing or contact Tahoe Waterman for a downwind clinic with our local pros.
We will be checking the wind forecast during the week of the race and be giving updates as the week progresses. If the wind does not come then we will still be racing and having fun on the 9-mile course.
Day-of registration and event venue is at Watermans Landing, in Carnelian Bay
The Downwind race starts at Kaspian Point/Blackwood canyon on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe and finishes at Watermans Landing, in Carnelian Bay - shuttle reservation available upon registration.
Short course and grom race start and finish at Watermans Landing, in Carnelian Bay
There are three races available: the short course, the downwind course, and the grom race.
Grom (1-mile - 1.6 km): The under-12 race is a 1-mile loop starting and ending at Watermans Landing
Short course (3 mile - 4.8 km): The race format includes an out and backs 3-mile paddle to Rocky Point. Racers start in the water on their craft and finish on the water between the finish buoys.
Downwinder (9 mile - 15 km): The race format includes a downwind paddle from Kaspian Point/Blackwood canyon on the West Shore to Watermans Landing, in Carnelian Bay. Racers start in the water on their craft and finish on the water between finish buoys.
EXPERIENCE LEVEL AND CRAFT TYPES
The short course and the grom race is suitable for all levels of paddlers and paddle craft, including outrigger (OC1, OC2), surf ski (1 and 2-person), stand-up paddleboard (SUP), and prone paddleboards.
Because it’s not unusual to see 25+ miles per hour winds gust on the lake when one of these storms hits the Sierra Nevada. The Downwind course is recommended for experienced paddlers.
SPECIAL SAFETY NOTE
Lake Tahoe is an alpine mountain lake at 6000 feet of elevation and we suggest practicing smart mountain safety. Plan to check weather conditions for race day temperature and winds. Plan to dress appropriately.
Register online (here at PaddleGuru) or on-site on race day. There is an additional fee for race morning registration.
There is ample free parking at the event site. Navigate to Watermans Landing, in Carnelian Bay, and follow the signs for parking when you arrive. We are offering a shuttle for the downwind paddlers. If you choose to drive yourself or get dropped off at the start, parking is available at Kaspian Point/Blackwood canyon on the West Shore and at the entrance of Blackwood Canyon.
RACE FEE (including a celebration meal served after the race and before the award ceremony)
Individual Participant | Short Course: $55
Individual Participant | Downwind Course: $55
Individual kid Participant | Grom Course: $10
Double Day | Short Course & Downwind Course: $85
Individual kid Participant | Grom Course: $10
2-Person Teams (OC2 or Double Surf Ski) | short course $55 per person
2-Person Teams (OC2 or Double Surf Ski) | downwind: $55 per person
NOTE: Race-day Registration is an additional $20 per person
GROM U12 - Grom race only
SENIOR MASTER 60-69