Concours d’ Elegance, Lake Tahoe
Right next door to Reno is Lake Tahoe. Just yesterday we attended the Barrett Jackson Car Auction as part of Reno’s “Hot August Nights”. Today we are excited to head to Lake Tahoe for the Concours d’ Elegance which is an “in-water” classic wooden boat show hosted by the Tahoe Yacht Club Foundation. This event is touted as the most prestigious wooden boat gathering in North America. Hosted at Obexer’s Boat Company on Lake Tahoe, we found easy parking at this well attended event. If you like classic boats, this was like walking into a jewelry store and seeing a display case full of diamonds. This is a judged show and as such brings out the finest wooden boats from the 1920’s to the 195o’s.
Lake Tahoe has quite a few of these stunning wooden boats that reside on the lake and many others at the event were trailered in. Being made of wood, these boats are much more susceptible to damage from parasites like worms that live in the water and that’s why you don’t see as many in southern climes as you do in the more northern, cooler water. Lake Tahoe is considered an Alpine Lake and as such only reaches 65 to 70 degrees in August and September, the hottest months.
As we walked the docks and viewed these magnificently restored watercraft, it was easy to think back to a more gentile time in America. These were pleasure craft for the wealthy. Names like Garwood and Hackercraft, Riva and Chris Craft dominated the conversation on the docks. Mahogany and chrome, brass and gold leaf paint were on display for the judges and spectators to view, study and enjoy. Of course the most prized of these are the most extravagent with the 12 cylinder engines, curved woodwork and rare pedigrees.
Here is a promotional video courtesy of the Tahoe Yacht Club Foundation:
As part of the event, there was a wine garden and small midway selling nautical jewelry, collector watches and Lake Tahoe Art prints. Kenny Chesney’s new line of rums, Blue Chair, had a booth providing free tastings to promote and get the name out there. Porsche had a display with 2 very expensive looking race cars promoting the local Porsche Dealer. There was an area called “Field Of Dreams” where boats in various states of repair and restoration were for sale. I recall looking at a Hackercraft that was beautifully restored on a trailer being displayed for sale. This boat was about 30 feet long and had a price tag of $450,000. I’m not a wooden boat expert, but I am an admirer and I believe the terminology was a triple cockpit on the Hackercraft.
At the end of the event they had what was called the “Roar Off” where the more “prized” 12 cylinder boats would start their engines and leave the docks and “roar off”. Here are a couple examples:
What an amazing contrast to go from the Barrett Jackson Classic Car Auction yesterday to the Concours d’ Elegance Classic Wooden Boat Show today. But after you strip away the surface impressions, things like clothing differences, maybe a little more jewelry or “snootiness”, it’s all exactly the same. It’s about passion and what makes that pleasure button light up in your soul. A couple of years ago I had the privilege of attending a Classic Tractor Show. This was attended by mostly farmers and country folk in bib overalls and work boots. And again, once you looked past the surface trappings of the lifestyle, the same passion was preeminent. The more it’s different, the more it’s all the same! We are encouraged to embrace our uniqueness, but at the end of the day, it’s about the intense human emotion of passion that fuels our greatness.
Speaking of passion, I spoke to one of the owners of a boat in the show named “Tucker”. He told me the two things in this world he has loved the most are this boat and his late cat, named Tucker. When the cat passed he had it cremated and put some of Tucker’s ashes into the paint to paint the name on the boat. As he told me this he said “so as you can see, you are really looking at Tucker”. Some would probably call him a whack job, but to him it was a way to visually display and combine his passion and his love. And that … made it more special for him!