Concours d’Elegance: Set a course and go |

Concours d’Elegance: Set a course and go

Linda J. Bottjer
Lake Tahoe Action

The lake to some was created solely to showcase the Concours d’Elegance.

Waters of iridescent blues provide the perfect backdrop for the reddish and blonde tones of burnished mahogany and other specialty woods found on these prized wooden boats.

Celebrating its 38th year, the three-day event in Carnelian Bay starts Friday, June 18. With more than 100 antique and classic crafts, the Concours, hosted by the Tahoe Yacht Club Foundation, also highlights a modern passion. People bringing their boats from faraway docks in New York and Hawaii also delight in restoring maritime masterpieces created by such names like Gar Wood, Chris Craft and Hatcher.

Their dedication is easy to see. With chamois clothes in hand, they are seekers of smudge on both wood and metal. Nimbly, friends and lovers or generations of one family work together to make hulls and engines gleam.

At its heart the Concours d’ Elegance is a fundraiser. Monies earned flow back into the Tahoe maritime interests – always educating and encouraging its continuation.

Today’s VIP Preview Day allows just 500 attendees to experience specialty food, fine wines and champagne and the opportunity to talk intimately with the owners. Additionally, they will experience the thrill of barreling across the lake in one of the restored crafts.

The wooden boats are divided into 15 separate marquees or classes – such as Racing and Blonde Deck runabouts. The range comes from the 14-foot Little Pal classed in Outboards and Canoes to the Klondike. The latter, in the Sedan runabout category, is a rare 25-foot Chris Craft Clipper having been created in 1938. Advancing age was not the craft’s only survival task. She sank during a storm in the 1980s .

This year sees the inclusion of fiberglass boats manufactured until 1964. Broken in two subclasses – the Transitional is defined as a boat with a wood hull and accented with fiberglass accessories such as fins and hard tops. A craft constructed primarily of fiberglass such as the Mint Julep with its unique Bimini Blue Dock Buster engine falls into the Classical category.

Among the favorites returning is the 1959 18-foot Chris Craft Continental “Knock on Wood.” Awarded last year with the event’s best nonprofessional restoration, the process has been a labor of love for Walnut Creek’s Nancy Bartolomei and Rich Fisher. Fisher’s love of building, boats and youthful memories spent camping at Meeks Bay coupled with Bartolomei’s desire for the prize lead the couple to devote more than 2,000 hours in the boat’s restoration. Among the “come to Jesus” moments experienced, according to Fisher, was the punch list of yet to be competed tasks that loomed large only 30 hours prior to the 2009 show.

Round-the-clock work in achieving pristine conditions meant it was Bartolomei, the most rested, who was charged with her inaugural run of hauling the boat and trailer over the mountains. Even a seasoned veteran would pale at driving from south of Sacramento up and over Donner Pass. However, Fisher said, “She did it all with a smile.”

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