Wednesday, August 1, 2012

South Tahoe Antique and Classic Boat Show

I went down to the Tahoe Keys Marina for the 5th annual South Lake Tahoe classic wooden boat show, and I got to see a bunch of great antique boats and classic boat reproductions; and got to talk to the passionate people who restore and care for these amazing boats. 
I got to talk to John Walti, the vice-commodore of the vintage division of the California Speedboat Association, who showed me the FT Barron perpetual trophy with every race winner since the club was founded in 1934.
I also got to talk to the owners of the 1924 gold-cup racer the "Baby Skipalong", which was widely considered to be the fastest boat on Lake Tahoe in the late 1920s. 

I got to talk to the owner of a reproduction 1938 Ventnor Gold-cup boat that was originally designed to carry a 500Lbs bomb in it's bow; as well as the builder of of a reproduction B-Racing Runabout from the early 1950s.

By far the most famous boat I saw there was George Whittell Jr's famous 60ft wooden Yacht "The Thunderbird".  Launched in 1940, by a man so rich he owned pretty much the entire east shore of Lake Tahoe, the Thunderbird represents the absolute hight of art deco wooden boat design.
I talked to Gary Jesh of the Thunderbird preservation society, and he said:

"We're enjoying a great afternoon with a lot of interesting people coming by. You know, this boat has been on Lake Tahoe for 70 years now, 72 years.
It was actually launched in 1940 by George Whittell Jr. himself! And it's a special thing for me today because in 1962 my dad Ray Jesh was working for Bill Harrah and Bill Harrah bought this boat from Whittell and restored it. So my brothers and I were up at the Thunderbird Lodge for 5 summers in a row, and that's what we were doing: getting this boat restored and ready, and look at the beautiful condition that it's in here."

"So today, this morning, for the first time in 37 years I got a chance to ride this boat once again, and it was just incredible! I can't tell you how beautiful it was with the memories of those years ago plus the new ones I made today coming all the way from the Thunderbird Lodge down by Sand Harbor, NV down here to the south shore at 20 knots. It was just a great morning and I know I'll never forget it."

For a full gallery of the boat show on google+, click here.