By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
WOLFEBORO — The 43rd annual Lake Winnipesaukee Antique and Classic Boat Show, an event which draws hundreds of spectators from all over the Northeast and features classic wooden boats from earlier eras, including Chris Crafts, Garwoods, Hackercraft and Century, will have a new location this year at the Wolfeboro town docks
The show was held at the pubic docks at Weirs Beach in Laconia for nearly 30 years, starting in 1974, and was moved to the Meredith town docks in 2003.
Among the wooden boats which will be on display this weekend will be two boats which were made right in Wolfeboro at Goodhue and Hawkins, Regina, a 30-foot Laker owned by Howard Newton, a summer resident of Alton, and Keen Kutter, a 36-foot Laker owned by Richard Hapgood of Tuftonboro.
Newton says that Regina is one of only six known Lakers that were built in Wolfeboro and that it dates back to 1913. It is unique in that it has an oak rather than mahogany deck and is an original boat which is 99.9 percent unrestored.
"It took me 47 years to buy it," said Newton, who has had Regina for 15 years and says that he first saw it antique boat races in Alton Bay when it was owned by the Downing family.
He says that the original engine in the Regina is now owned by Jeff Fay at Fay's Boatyard in Gilford and was replaced was six-cylinder flat head Universal engine which produces about 95 horsepower.
"It's nice to have a boat which is over 100 years old and get to use it on the lake where it was built," says Newton, who also owns a 28-foot Johnson Laker which was built in Lakeport as well as a 1952 Century Gentleman's Race Boat and 1966 Chris Craft.
The 36-foot long Keen Kutter was built around 1915 for Thomas Plant, who built Lucknow, now known as Castle in the Clouds at around the same time. It was the longest Laker ever built and reportedly was named for the shoe cutting machinery developed by Plant.
The boat show has its roots in the Roaring Twenties and those years in which pleasure boating really started to come of age. There were literally hundreds of boats that came to Lake Winnipesaukee, and in the 1930s organized racing among the high-powered runabouts on the lake became big events, attracting national news media and thousands of spectators. Speedboat rides were big business by the late '40s, and it was during that time many of those attending the show experienced the thrill of their first ride in one of these mahogany beauties. The Miss Winnipesaukee speedboats, which made daily trips out of Irwin's Winnipesaukee Gardens, were some of the '20s vintage craft offering "thrill rides" on the lake.
The Winnipesaukee Antique and Classic Boat Show began because Jim Irwin of Irwin Winnipesaukee Gardens and Irwin Marine and Vince Callahan, owner of Channel Marine at the Weirs, business competitors and friends for years, attended the Clayton New York Antique Boat Show in 1973. It was clear to them that the preservation of old boats was an exciting thing that could best be achieved through a boat show. They started planning that summer and fall and the result was the first annual national Northeastern Antique and Classic Boat Show in 1974.
Jim Irwin wrote of that first show: ''Under sunny skies on beautiful lake Winnipesaukee, nestled at the foot of the New Hampshire White Mountains, the dream of two local boat dealers came true. The show displayed over 50 power boats,creating all the color and nostalgia of yesteryear. Vince Callahan and I put together an 'in the water' show that delighted thousands of spectators and old boat lovers. Working directly with city officials, the public docks at the Weirs became the stage for a wide variety of beautiful wooden boat masterpieces.''
In 1976, the New England Chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society was formed as a result of gathering at the Boston Boat Show when a group of wooden boat enthusiasts gathered in admiration around a couple of show winning woodies: Ted Larter's "Scotty Too" Goldcup Racer and Ray Hawe's prized possession, 18' Garwood "Norma Jean."
In the years following the formation of the chapter, the boat show became its major event, with Jim and Vince providing valued direction and support. The show was a competitive one from the beginning, with numerous classes, a panel of judges, and sometime had special featured race boat events. Consequently it developed a prestigious reputation. Only one year in its history, 1980, did it try a new approach — no judging.
Despite dire predictions of failure without judging and awards, 85 boats registered and the quality was as good as ever. A truly successful event, proving that giving antique boat owners a chance to shine up their prize and show it to 10,000 people will get them every time.
In 2003, the show moved to the public docks at Meredith and has continued to be one of the premiere classic boat shows in the entire country.
This year's show is co-chaired by Scott Robinson and Phil Spencer of the Wooden Boat Works in Wolfeboro, a noted local boat restorer.
The schedule for this year's show calls for boats to dock between 7 and 9 a.m. with the show itself running from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Following the show, awards will be presented at a buffet at the Wolfeboro Town Hall at 5 p.m.
The 43rd annual Lake Winnipesaukee Antique and Classic Boat Show, held in Meredith since 2003, will move to Wolfeboro this year. (Courtesy photo)
The Regina, a 1913 Goodhue and Hawkins Laker, will be one of many classic wooden boats on display Saturday at the 43rd annual Lake Winnipesaukee Antique and Classic Boat Show in Wolfeboro. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
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