The Newport Beach Wooden Boat Festival

Held each year at the Balboa Yacht Club, the Newport Beach Wooden Boat Festival celebrates wooden boats of all sizes. Free and open to the public, the event attracts nearly 4,000 people each year.

Enjoying the Newport Beach Wooden Boat Festival

The Newport Beach Wooden Boat Festival features canoes, dinghies, kayaks, yachts and tall ships. In addition to featuring exceptional wooden boats on land and in water, the event also offers marine art, delicious food, lively music and special activities for participants to enjoy. A complimentary shuttle and water taxies also provide convenient access to the free off-site parking that is used for the event.

The History of the Newport Beach Wooden Boat Festival

The first Newport Beach Wooden Boat Festival took place on June 6, 2014. At this event, an impressive 47 boats were put on display. A number of awards are given out to participants, with award categories including:
• Best-in-class power: over 50 feet and under 50 feet
• Best-in-class sail: over 50 feet and under 50 feet
• Human-powered wooden vessels
The 2015 Newport Beach Wooden Boat Festival took place on June 6, 2016 in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the Newport Beach Harbor Patrol. The yacht “America,” which is named such in honor of the America’s Cup, was on display at the event.

The following year, the festival took place on June 4, 2016. One of the festival’s most notable entries was the Polynesian Concept, which was built in 1968 as a racing catamaran for actor Buddy Ebsen. Polycon, as the vessel is known by for short, was designed by Rudy Choy. Choy, who was a famous catamaran designer from Hawaii, was one of the best marine architects of his time. The actual vessel was constructed in Southern California and went on to compete in the 1969 Trans Pacific Yacht Race (Transpac) from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Polycon finished first ahead of Gun Smoke, which is another famous catamaran that was much larger at 60 feet and was skippered by actor James Arness.

The 2017 event took place on June 10th, while the upcoming 2018 event will take place June 9th.

Enjoying the Weekend

While the Newport Beach Wooden Boat Festival is open to the public on the second Saturday of June each year, activities for participants take place throughout the weekend. In 2017, for example, the Friday before the public festival served as say for wooden boat owners to check-in and to receive their packets, their swag bags and boat placement information. A VIP Boat Owner’s Reception cruise was then held aboard the M/V Electra followed by a VIP & Sponsor Reception Cruise.

On Sunday, the day started with a Skipper’s Meeting and continental breakfast in the Balboa Yacht Club Clubhouse for skippers and owners only, followed by a ticketed champagne brunch aboard Curlew or Electra. A 90-minute Wooden Boat Parade then took place around Newport Harbor as all boats and exhibitors left the Balboa Yacht Club grounds. For those who are wishing to enter their boats into the festival, space is limited to just 50. Therefore, it is important to register early.

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