Tahoe’s 40th Concours d’Elegance features Riva runabouts

LAKE TAHOE IS WORLD FAMOUS FOR its restored wooden boats, or “woodies,” which race across the lake’s sparkling waters all summer long. It is an “Old Tahoe” tradition.

Along with the familiar wooden boats such as Gar Wood, Chris-Craft and Hacker-Craft, the Riva runabout is characterized by “old world quality, new world design.” Riva was founded in 1860 by Pietro Riva on the Oglio river in Northern Italy.

“The intrigue of these boats quickly spread from their environs to the Italian Riviera, then to the French Riviera and Monaco,” according to the owners of the Riva Grill, a South Shore restaurant named after the runabout. “By the ‘60s, fleets of Riva’s were docked side-by-side in the holiday ports of the Mediterranean.”

Riva opened its first U.S. showroom in 1964. The runabout caught on with well-to-do West Coast residents who summered at Lake Tahoe.

These “precious mahogany sculptures” became the rage, with powerful V8 engines, leather upholstery and sunbathing space over the engine compartment—as glamorous as an Italian sports car. Tahoe is now home to the largest concentration of Rivas in North America, with names such as Ciao Tahoe, Alcazar II and Mia Basillissa.

This summer, in a fitting tribute to its fame, the Riva Aquarama will be the Marque Class at the 40th annual Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance Boat Show on August 10-11 at the Sierra Boat Co. on Tahoe’s North Shore. The event—the nation’s premier wooden boat show—offers the best chance to see the Riva and other wooden boats up close. About 80 vintage boats will be on display, at an estimated value of more than $15 million.

“We are thrilled to feature one of the rarest and most elegant boat lines, Riva Aquarama,” says Tahoe Yacht Club Foundation President Dave Olson. “This promises to be one of the most successful shows to date.” In 1972, a group of Tahoe Yacht Club members and friends got together to share their passion for wooden boats. From this modest beginning, the Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance has grown to play a major role in the wooden boat community.

The show is known for the quality of boats, the highest of judging standards and, most important, sharing the passion of wooden boats between exhibitors and the public.

Attendees can meet with the owners, who share their unique experiences. Children are welcome. There is music, food and wine to go with the artistic boats. Last year was the largest crowd in the event’s history.
For tickets and more information, visit LakeTahoeConcours.com.

Dine with Woodies
Riva Grill and Gar Woods Grill & Pier are premiere lakefront dining restaurants named after famous wooden boats seen at Tahoe.

Riva Grill is located on the South Shore, while Gar Woods is on the North Shore. Both offer large decks and floor to ceiling windows with lakefront views.

The menus feature seafood, steak, pastas and salads, as well as the famous “Wet Woody” specialty rum cocktail. GarWoods.com and RivaGrill.com.

(photo credits: TahoeTV.com, H2OMark.com and Nina Miller)

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