Start your engines: South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic highlights racing boats this weekend |

Start your engines: South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic highlights racing boats this weekend

Autumn Whitney
The South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic begins Friday, July 29, at noon. It continues Saturday, July 30, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Courtesy / Tahoe Keys Marina |

If you go ...

What: South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic

When: Friday and Saturday, July 29-30, noon and 9 a.m.

Where: Tahoe Keys Marina

Tickets: $22


If you’ve seen an increase in the amount of wooden boats on the South Shore, here’s why — the ninth annual South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic is revving up for launch Friday, July 29, at noon. The event, held at Tahoe Keys Marina on Friday and Saturday, is hosted by the Northern California / Lake Tahoe Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society.

Boat-show fun lasts two days, featuring 85 boats and approximately 2,500 attendees. According to South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic show co-chair Lew Dobbins, people are traveling from as far as Texas to display their boats in the show.

“The most boats we’ve had in the past was about 65,” he added. “It will be the largest boat show on Lake Tahoe this year of the three antique boat shows we have.”

Antique and Classic Boat Society president Barbara Foster grew up in a boat-racing family, which inspired her to create this year’s Wooden Boat Classic theme — “Ladies and Gentlemen, You Have a Race!”

“Every year we have a different theme or we feature a different type of boat. This year we’re doing boat racing through the ages,” Dobbins explained.

Many historic unlimited hydroplanes can be seen at the marina this year. Among them are the Hurricane IV, My Sweetie John Francis and Shanty II, all of which raced during the 1950s. Henry Kaiser’s Hornet II, which he raced across Lake Tahoe in the 1930s, can be seen along with fellow 1930s racing boat Notre Dame.

Although racing boats are the highlight, vessels of all types will make an appearance this weekend. The Antique and Classic Boat Society website said it “doesn’t matter if you have a family runabout that occasionally raced or an unlimited hydroplane.” Classic wood and early generation fiberglass boats are among additional categories competing at the marina.

“It is open to almost anything. We are the Antique and Classic Boat Society, so we generally are talking about wooden boats. However, we are embracing and wanting the owners of first-generation fiberglass boats, when wood was starting to go away and fiberglass was starting,” Dobbins added.

This show is judged, and the awards are many — “Most Original Boat,” class places and chapter awards, such as “Having Too Much Fun,” are some of the offered titles.

“One of the trophies is for the best engine. It’s a beautiful, very large, polished piston of a 1919 marine engine. It’s out of a big Scripps engine. It’s an appropriate type of trophy,” Dobbins said.

The boat show also includes a trophy room displaying racing memorabilia, as well as four additional racing boats.

Boats are judged Friday and the awards ceremony is held Sunday, July 31, at Sugar Pine Point State Park at 11 a.m.

“We are encouraging people to come to the show, enjoy the boats, enjoy the day,” Dobbins said.

The South Tahoe Wooden Boat Classic is open Friday, July 29, from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturday, July 30, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tahoe Keys Marina is located at 2435 Venice Drive.

Admission is $22 and children under age 12 are free. For more information, visit

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