North Tahoe Regatta

  • Aug 7, 2022
  • open water
  • Kings Beach, CA (USA)
  • Hosted By: RowTahoe


The regatta used to take place in early June. Why did you move it to later in the summer?
Unfortunately, the weather in early June in the Tahoe Basin is just too unpredictable, with a high potential for unrowable conditions. In fact, it can even snow here in June! The 2018 and 2019 regattas were both canceled due to inclement weather. The 2017 regatta was almost canceled for the same reason, with a storm causing very bad lake conditions right up until the afternoon before the race.

Check out this video of conditions on June 12, 2022 at 7:00am:

This would have been the date of the North Tahoe Regatta had we not moved it to August!!! We already have visible whitecaps and waves breaking on the shore. The wind is blowing about 15kts, with gusts of 25-30kts, and it's expected to get much, much worse as the morning goes on. As a result, the regatta would have been canceled due to poor conditions AGAIN.

The regatta’s location further complicates matters, as even a light wind from the south or southwest (the prevailing direction in late spring and early summer) can cause big rolling waves on the north shore, as you can see in the video above.

However, late summer and early fall bring much calmer conditions with lighter winds and no potential for storms. Yes, power boat traffic is heavier, and there is obviously potential for wildfires, but at least the weather should cooperate. Assuming it does (and we don’t have bad fires), the rowing conditions should be magnificent.

Wait, wildfires?
Perhaps you haven’t been paying attention to the news. The 2021 North Tahoe Regatta was canceled as a result of poor air quality due to fires, so it is a real issue. But hey, at least we don’t get tsunamis.

What happens if there’s a wildfire?
The more likely scenario is poor air quality due to wildfires elsewhere in the West. If air quality is unhealthy, the event will be canceled. Keep an eye on PurpleAir - if the US EPA PM2.5 AQI reading is above 150 in Kings Beach at 5pm on August 5th (Friday), 5pm August 6th (Saturday), or 7am on August 7th (Regatta Day), we will call the event. If the reading is below 150 on Thuday and Friday, but the smoke forecast shows it is likely to be above 150 at 7am Sunday, we will also most likely call the event (as we did last year).

Will there be a dinner the night before the event or a BBQ after the race?
No, but there will brunch items (breakfast burritos, scones, fruit, coffee, etc.) available for everyone before and after the race.

In addition, concessions will be available nearby at the Ta-Hoe Nalu Paddle Festival. We encourage you to head over there on Saturday and after the race on Sunday to see the paddle races and hang out in the beer garden.

Why is the regatta on a Sunday?
Why not? This way you get an extra day to acclimate to the high elevation and, perhaps, take a practice run on the course. It also makes things easier on the organizers, as we have all day Saturday to get ready.

The air is thinner at high elevation. 10 miles at 6,225 feet above sea level is going to feel like 15 miles at sea level.

What should I do to acclimate?
Three things:

  1. Get in shape. The better your cardiovascular conditioning, the easier it will be for you to adapt.
  2. DRINK WATER. Lots of it. The air is very dry at Lake Tahoe, so start hydrating as soon as you arrive.
  3. Arrive early. The more days of training you can do at high elevation before the regatta, the better you’ll feel.

Can I practice the course before the regatta?
You are welcome to row on Lake Tahoe anytime you'd like. Full course information, including compass headings and GPS waypoints, may be found on the Venue page. Please note that we will not provide any on-water support before or after the regatta - if you practice the course, you do so unsupported and at your own risk.

We do plan to be at the launch site (on the beach in front of the Crown Motel in Kings Beach) at 6:30am on Saturday, August 6th. We will conduct a detailed briefing and overview of the two courses, after which you may practice either course at your discretion. If you attend this briefing, you may skip the Sunday morning briefing prior to the race; however, you will still be required to have your boat safety checked and cleared prior to launch on Sunday.

I'm not rowing, but I like boats and seeing other people suffer. Where can I watch?
If you have access to a kayak or SUP, that's going to be your best bet. Most of the race course is pretty far offshore. The start/finish is about 200m off Kings Beach and the two turns are 100m or so from shore at Dollar Point and Ridgewood. Those are the three closest points to land, and all of the shoreline between Dollar Point and Ridgewood (the leg of the course closest to land) is private, so the best views are going to be from the water.

A motorboat or (gasp!) jet ski are possibilities as well, but please NO WAKES and KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. The only thing worse than getting waked by an inconsiderate powerboat driver when you're in a 14-inch-wide boat with 4 inches of freeboard is getting run over by a jet ski.

Entry/Course Rules and Safety

What safety equipment is required?
Regardless of which course they are rowing, all boats must carry a US Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) for each rower. PFDs do not have be worn, but they must be present on the boat. In addition, each boat must carry one (1) noise maker (either a whistle or an air horn).

In addition, all boats on the Long Course must be built to an open water or coastal specification, including a closed/sealed self-bailing hull and positive flotation. Flat water shells lacking these features will not be permitted on the Long Course.

What kinds of boats are allowed on the Long Course?
Only boats specifically designed for open water or coastal conditions are permitted to row the Long Course. Flat water shells are not permitted on the Long Course.

Can I row a racing (flat water) shell on the Long Course?

What if I stuff my flatwater shell with flotation? Can I row it on the Long Course then?

If I just show up with my flat water boat and attempt to row it on the Long Course, will anyone stop me?
Yes. All boats must clear a pre-launch safety check prior to being allowed to depart the beach. Boats that are not designed for open water or coastal conditions will not be permitted to race the Long Course.

But I’m a very experienced rower!
Great, but your boat is not appropriate for open water conditions. Row the Short Course or choose a different regatta.

But I take full responsibility for myself if something goes wrong.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. We can not permit you to participate in the Long Course event if your equipment doesn’t meet the required specifications.

I want a gold-plated toilet, but it’s just not in the cards. If you get access to an open water or coastal shell, you are welcome to row it on the Long Course. Otherwise, your only option is the Short Course.

Do I need to bring a marine radio or mobile phone?
No. While we recommend you carry one or the other, we do not require it. We will be monitoring Marine Channel 68 during the regatta. The Regatta Director's phone number will be provided during the briefing.

Are there junior and/or scholastic events?
Unfortunately not. We hope to add events for youth/scholastic rowers in the future, but the regatta is currently limited to masters rowers.

Besides the required equipment and acclimation to the elevation, is there anything else I should do for safety?
Bring water in the boat with you during the race. It's a long race and the air is very dry here (see commments above about acclimating). The race officials will have extra water in their launches, but we strongly recommend bringing some with you.

It would also be a good idea to bring a snack in the boat with you. You'll be out there for a long time, and might need a quick break to refuel.

And wear sunscreen. The sun is strong up here. UV intensity increases 8-10% for every 1,000 of elevation gain, so even if the air temperature isn't that high, you will still burn much faster than you would at sea level.

When can I get my bow number?
Bow numbers will be issued via email Friday evening. Please apply your number with electrical tape to the sides of the bow of your boat. We will have electrical tape available at Saturday morning's practice and again Sunday morning prior to launch.

When can I launch?
All boats will be inspected for seaworthiness and proper safety gear prior to launch Sunday morning. You may not launch until your boat has been cleared. We will clear short course boats first, then long course boats. If you attempt to launch prior to being cleared, you will be disqualified.

Equipment Availability

Can I rent a boat?
No. This event is BYOB (Bring Your Own Boat).

Will boat storage racks be available at the venue?
No. This event is also BYOS (Bring Your Own Slings).


Travel and Accommodations

Where should I stay?
There are several options. First, the regatta has a block of ten (10) standard rooms reserved at the Crown Motel (regatta venue). This is definitely the most convenient option. Please note these rooms are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so CALL THE MOTEL ((530) 546-3388) to book as soon as possible.

There are several other hotels and motels in the area, both on the lakeshore and over at Northstar Resort (good option for easy parking if you have a boat on your car). However, Tahoe is extremely popular in the summer, and hotels book up early.

If you can assemble a larger group of people, renting a big house on AirBNB or VRBO is a great option. Vacation rentals also book up early, but the bigger the house (and, therefore, the higher the price), the less competition you’ll have.

By the way, if you do go the AirBNB route, please (please, please, please) behave yourself and be respectful of the neighbors. Too many rude and unruly tourists have destroyed local sentiment toward short-term rentals. The last thing we need is complaints about “those North Tahoe Regatta people.” Keep it down, don’t use charcoal or fireworks, clean up after yourself, and be Bear Aware.

As a last resort, try staying in South Reno and driving up the morning of the race. It’s roughly a 40-minute drive over the Mount Rose Highway to Kings Beach.

Where can I load/unload boats?
See the Venue page for more information and maps.

Where can I park?
See the Venue page for more information and maps.

Where can I park my boat trailer?
We do not have trailer parking available on site, so you will need to make other arrangements. In past years, some clubs have had luck getting the Safeway in Kings Beach to allow them to park trailers in their parking lot on the day of the event. If you'd like to explore this option, feel free to call the Safeway and ask to speak with the manager. Note that we provide no guarantee this will be permitted.

Can I leave my boat on the beach the night before the regatta?
We're not going to stop you, but we're also not going to provide any security. If you choose to do this, you do so at your own risk. Note that much of the shoreline is PRIVATE PROPERTY, so please obtain permission from the property owner before dumping your boat on their beach. This includes the beach behind the Crown Motel, which is the motel's property.