2014 Concours d’Elegance Returns To Birth Place Of Wooden Boating On Lake Tahoe

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Classic Gar Wood boats gathered at the Obexer’s Boat Company docks during the prestigious “Gathering of the Gar Woods” event on Lake Tahoe in 2011.

For 2014, the 44th annual Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance is moving 12 miles down the road (20 minutes south) to the historic Obexer’s Boat Company marina in Homewood, California. The Tahoe Concours is one of the premier wooden boat shows in the country, and we were thrilled to learn that they have now secured Obexer’s Marina for the event. We received the official Press Release from the Tahoe Yacht Club Foundation via Liquid Blue Events late Friday. – Texx



January 31, 2014

Obexer’s Boat Company, home of the first wooden boat dealership on Lake Tahoe, will be the site of the 44th annual Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance, August 8-9, 2014. In making the announcement, Tahoe Yacht Club Foundation President David Olson said, “Lake Tahoe is synonymous with wooden boats. Our goal has always been to blend the history of these magnificent craft with the history of the Lake and what better venue than where they were first introduced to Tahoe.”

“We are also thrilled to bring the show to the Homewood community, also rich in history and home to the Tahoe Maritime Museum,” Olson added. “This partnership will not only bring back the authenticity of Lake Tahoe to the show, but reinforce the exclusive and intimate setting that makes TYCF’s Concours the premier wooden boat show in the country.”


Another shot from the comfortable docks at Obexer’s Marina during the 2011 gathering of the Gar Woods event.

J.P. Obexer’s Boat Company, which was founded in 1911 and introduced Gar Woods Boats to the Lake, is located on the west shore, 6.5 miles south of Tahoe City, Calif., on Hwy. 89. The historic venue offers unbelievable views of the Lake and lends itself to incredible shopping and dining experiences with the show’s vendors and community.

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“We, the Tahoe Yacht Club Foundation, are elated to make this announcement as our partnership with Obexer’s will ensure that this will be the best show to date. We look forward to releasing all the details shortly.”

For more information, visit the Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance website or contact Liquid Blue Events via our website. Please join us on out Lake Tahoe Concours Facebook page for all the up to date info.

Dave Olsen, President – Tahoe Yacht Club Foundation


The Marque Class for the 2014 Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance is “PRE-WAR BARRELBACKS” – The first thing that comes to mind when we think about “Barrelbacks” are the magnificent pre-war Chris-Craft Custom models, but this unique design feature has quite a history, dating as far back as the 1920’s. Exactly how do the Tahoe Concours organizers define a “Barrelback?” – Here is the official description from the very nice, very knowledgeable folks over at the Tahoe Yacht Club Foundation.

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Michael Lang’s spectacular 1939 Chris-Craft 19′ Custom Barrelback “Victory” – Dane Anderson photo.

The Lake Tahoe Yacht Club Foundation is pleased to feature for our 2014 show “Pre-War Barrelbacks.” Although the term barrelback is a modern one, the stern design it represents is timeless. Originally termed “Torpedo decks” or excessive “tumblehome” all resulted in a boating icon. The famous naval architect John L. Hacker is credited with the sloping design feature, drawing it into a few of his more exotic racing boats and runabouts in the early 1920s.


From the Lee Anderson Collection, “Rebel” is a rare 1925 33′ Hackercraft Dolphin triple cockpit runabout, powered by a Hall-Scott 200 HP LM-6 engine. – Dane Anderson photo.

The basic definition of a barrelback is one curved, unbroken line (as viewed looking stern, forming the sides and deck drawn from waterline to waterline along the transom). Drawing these sweeping lines on paper was one thing; torturing wood into these shapes was an entirely different obstacle.

It was not until 1936 that Chris-Craft made the barrelback design widespread in popularity, and was able to build the complex shapes on a production line. With production beginning in the summer of 1936 as a 1937 model, the first Chris-Craft “barrelback” was the 16-foot Special Race Boat, produced in low numbers (167 built), and most examples originally painted red, white, and blue until 1940. Also featuring the “barrelback” design elements was the low production Chris-Craft 16′ Hydroplane, with a total of only 19 models built between 1941 & 42.

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A 1942 Chris-Craft 16′ Hydroplane recently restored by Katz’s Marina.

Perhaps the most iconic “barrelback” was the new-for-1939 Chris-Craft 19-foot Custom Runabout. With its Brooklands- a.k.a. Bugatti-style windshields, Spanish-maroon leather interior, and available 130 hp “M” engines, it had it all. 1940 brought on the of brighter colors with the 17’ and 19’ Custom Runabouts all having orange deck seams and waterlines, and the 23’ and 27’ models with green deck seams and waterlines.


A wonderful example of an early Chris-Craft Custom barrelback, “Annabelle” is a
1939 19′ model owned by Jack McManus from California. – Photo courtesy Steve Natale.

Chris-Craft and Hacker were not the only builders of barrelbacks, and the Concours hopes to recognize all of the true barrelbacks produced prior to W.W.II. California builder Mercury built them in the early 1940s, as did Century, Gar Wood, and a few others.

Please join us this year in celebrating one of the most influential and artistic runabout designs ever!

Tahoe Yacht Club Foundation


“Sweet Louise” – 1942 Century Seamaid 20′ Triple Cockpit Runabout.

The Tahoe Yacht Club Foundation is hoping to feature between 30 to 40 barrelbacks at Obexer’s Marina for the 2014 Concours, along with a wide variety of other concours level wooden boats for this year’s show.  There is nothing quite like the experience of being at beautiful Lake Tahoe in August, surrounded by classic wooden boats for this annual world class event.


10 replies
  1. Wilson Wright
    Wilson Wright says:

    Lake Tahoe is a beautiful venue, no matter where they hold the show.
    Dick Clark and Herb Hall both did a wonderful job at Sierra but I recall the first time we went the show was at Homewood at Obexers.
    Bob Speltz and I were invited as Honorary Judges…Bob could have qualified as a real Judge but at the time I hardly knew the pointy end from the square end.
    I remember when the show was over and it was time for Bob to fly home for a dialisis treatment…I thought that sea plane taking him to Reno would never lift off that lake.
    Theat was also the first time I met Wilbur Miller….But that’s a whole nuther story..

  2. Alex
    Alex says:

    Nice story and photos Texx. Really warmed my morning to see such beautiful boats. So I googled “barrelback” to see what other images came up. This one did. I never knew the Town and Country of this era (this one’s a 1942) were also called barrelbacks. Tahoe should have one of these on display at their show. Btw, I see one sold at R&M for almost $575,000. Wow.

  3. Wilson Wright
    Wilson Wright says:

    Interesting…I never thought that one particularly attractive but I sure like the ’48 Town and Country convertable.

    I noted in a late January Tahoe Times and a subsequentTahoe Foundation report that there were contract condition and licensing agreement problems that cause the move from Sierra. I suppose it may be non of our business but wonder what problems arose that were so serious that they would move the show from a venue where it had been held for 20 years ?

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      Gathering from the posts on the Buzz, one side felt that they were taking on too much of the liability risk and receiving too little of the financial gain to offset it. The other side thought the demands from the first were unworkable.

      Basically lawyers ruining yet another part of our society.

  4. Sabina Pellissier
    Sabina Pellissier says:

    Love that you used the photos from the Gathering of the GarWoods. We have been so proud to gather those beauties in the place where so many of them were originally sold. Obexer’s is a great choice for the Concours and the Tahoe Maritime Museum is right there as well. Should be a spectacular show this year.

  5. Jordan Heath
    Jordan Heath says:

    I hope this move does not foretell the end of the Concourse. Obexer’s Boat Company is fine business and its significance to Lake Tahoe is without question. Unfortunately I see two factors that I hope someone “in the know” will address.

    One: Obexer’s has only 39 slips (go to Google Earth and count them.) I have been to the show in years past when nearly twice that many were filled with wood boats at Sierra Boat Company. There were 34 boats that won awards last years, not counting many on display that were not judged…not to mention the Thunderbird and boats on display from the Maritime Museum.

    Two: While the location is adjacent to the Tahoe Maritime Museum it is not exactly the booming tourist part of the lake. 20 minutes farther South makes it a 40+ minute drive one way to dining and hotel accommodations. This may also be a barrier for the casual visitor to Tahoe that would want to go to the show or for the draw from Hot August Nights in Reno.

    I hope when Mr. Olson uses the word “intimate” that he doesn’t mean exclusive. If the show loses its draw from the public and limits the number of owners allowed to show their boats then the revenue from the event will drop accordingly.

    The change in event dates several years ago was a disaster. Will this move have the same result? Is this simply a temporary move?

    • Brian Robisnon
      Brian Robisnon says:


      Yes, Obexer’s has a smaller in-water marina than SBCO, however, there is more on-land space for people, boats, vendors, etc. We have an on-site launch ramp we never had before. Don’t let the 39 slip count throw you – some of the slips are for very wide beam boats and we fully intend to squeeze in every boat possible whether it be side ties or possible bringing in extra docks. There may be 15-20 fewer boats than we’ve had in the past but that’s just the way it is. Like Pebble Beach, more is not always better. Depending on static boat displays, boat count will be less of an issue than people think.

      2. Not sure what you mean by “booming part of the lake” but Homewood is closer to nearly everything compared to Carnelian Bay. Much closer to Tahoe City, Chambers, Emerald Bay, South Lake Tahoe casino’s, and is the exact same distance to Reno, google it – both are 1hr 5 minutes.

      The date change in 2009 and 2010 was bad, but again we were at the mercy of the venue. No longer.

      So be optimistic, this will be a breath of fresh air for the Concours. It has never been stronger.

      • Jordan Heath
        Jordan Heath says:

        Brian, thank you for addressing these issues. I certainly hope it will be a success. As a fellow restorer and exhibitor I am certainly committed to participating in the process.

        It would be great if some of that premium “on-land” space is made available to the small business/hobbyist for display or parts swap.

  6. Cobourg Kid
    Cobourg Kid says:

    Thanks for this Texx. I noticed that the news release suggests that naval architect John L. Hacker invented the barrel back design feature, and used it in a few of his more exotic racing boats and runabouts in the early 1920s.

    There is however quite a bit of evidence that suggests that it was actually Roy Stanley, (a former Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company employee) who introduced this radical transom design in the early 1920s . Stanley operated a small but innovative custom boat company in Cape Vincent New York that was in the business of building fast race boats (and rumrunners)

    Stanley’s Barrel black design was soon adopted by A.W. “Bill” MacKerer who used it when he penned the Rochester Boat Company’s “Standard Runabout” production design in 1926 . MacKerer later went to Chris Craft and became their lead design engineer until he retired, which may suggest the origin of the Chris Craft barrel backs .

    Hacker also used Stanley’s design but I for one don’t think it can be counted as one of his innovations

  7. Jon Fletscher
    Jon Fletscher says:

    3 cheers for Obexers! Great part of the lake! Better chance for calm water! Great dining! Great people! May the show continue on for many more years! Perfect that the museum is right across the street. Hats off to Dave Olson and crew!

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