Wooden wonders take center stage on lake and stamps | NevadaAppeal.com
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Wooden wonders take center stage on lake and stamps

Nevada Appeal News Service
Carrie Richards/Nevada Appeal News Service Thunderbird boat captain Dave Marion gives the yacht one more wipe down before he takes it on a cruise to Tahoe City for gas. The Thunderbird requires aviation fuel that can only be shipped to the Tahoe City Marina. The Thunderbird is one of four Tahoe-area boats being honored with stamps by the U.S. Post Office being unveiled during the Lake Tahoe Concours d'Elegance, a gathering of the finest antique wooden boats in North America taking place this weekend.
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Four Tahoe-area vintage boats will be featured this summer in a United States Postal Service collector’s stamp series entitled “Vintage Mahogany Speedboats.” Each pane of 16 first-class stamps will feature photographs of Dispatch, a 1931 GarWood from Carnelian Bay, Calif.; Duckers, a 1954 Chris-Craft from Loomis, Calif.; Frolic, a 1915 Hutchinson Brothers launch from Danville, Calif.; and the famous Thunderbird, a custom designed 1939 vessel moored at the Thunderbird Lodge on Tahoe’s East Shore and still one of the fastest and biggest boats on Lake Tahoe.

For 35 years, the tradition of sailing wooden boats on Lake Tahoe has been celebrated by Tahoe Yacht Club Foundation at the Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance, a gathering of the finest antique wooden boats in North America – and some say – in the world.

This summer’s Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance, a competitive event intended to recognize originality and authenticity among restored and meticulously maintained wooden craft, will take place today through Saturday at Sierra Boat Company in Carnelian Bay, Calif.

The featured class of the 2007 event is “Boats of the Thirties.” In addition to boats produced from 1930-39, there are more than a dozen other classes that boat owners may enter. While the number of interested participants far exceeds the number of slips at the marina, the show typically sees 110-120 boat entries in the event.

Boats of the Thirties

The Great Depression severely hampered the luxury boat industry. The world had changed drastically from the carefree 20s. America witnessed a stock market crash and a deepening depression, plus the bewildering rise of a Nazi leader overseas. There was a growing restlessness in world politics.

While the grim economic struggle was worse for some than others, the reduction in disposable income was all too real as the Depression reared its ugly head.

However, while the Depression reflected a drop in boat production and the closure of many boatyards, there were those who could still afford to indulge, and many boat manufacturers survived the decade intact. Indeed, an editorial in the May 1932 issue of “Yachting Magazine” appealed to readers to take their yachts to local boat yards to generate work and thus prevent layoffs.

Technical changes in the boat industry were reflected by a transition from raised-deck construction, designed to accommodate larger engines, to a sleeker, flush-deck design. The thirties also saw a trend toward a smaller boat size. Many popular “triple cockpit” runabout boats shrank from 28-plus feet to a maximum of 27 feet, before being discontinued altogether once World War II began. Other architectural changes of the decade include a change in the line of the sheer (where the deck and the sides of the boat meet). Sharply angled in the early thirties, later in the decade this angle was softened, reflecting the curves of the aerodynamic Art Deco period.

Concours d’Elegance extends one additional day

In past years, two days to visit and view more than 110 boats simply hasn’t been enough. This year, organizers have added an additional half day of viewing, offering a “V.I.P. Preview” today. Beginning at noon, an opening ceremony will announce the official start of the show, with ticket sales limited to the first 500 people and added attractions to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the event. With the earlier start, organizers have also bumped up the time frame for judging. With the exception of the “People’s Choice” Award, all trophies will be presented on Friday evening.

This change will allow Saturday’s spectators to see the winners of each class in the event, which in the past has not been possible, and also allows boat owners to share their successes with the public.

Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance event organizers will be unveiling the stamps at the opening ceremony of the event, 4:45 p.m. today, at Sierra Boat Company, 5146 North Lake Boulevard, Carnelian Bay.

The Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance is open to the public. Advance ticket sales may be purchased by contacting Tahoe Yacht Club Foundation at (530) 581-4700 or by logging on to http://www.laketahoeconcours.com.