Want to see your ad here? Ask us how.

You are browsing the archive for antique race boats | Port Carling Boats - Antique & Classic Wooden Boats for Sale.

by Rob

Chris-Craft boats, a history. (Part I)

February 17, 2020 in Uncategorized

Ernest Hemingway in an earlier duck boat. Note the duck decoys in the bow.

The Chris Craft dynasty really began in 1876 when Christopher Columbus Smith began helping his older brother Henry build duck boats and fishing skiffs for hunters and fishermen, and later for use as rentals in their boat livery at Algonac, Michigan. Time passed. In 1884, Chris  married Anna Rattray and went on to raise four sons and two daughters. When old enough, Chris employed the children in his workshop, helping to build rowing, sailing and small motor driven boats.

By 1906, Chris was building 26 foot boats that would reach speeds of eighteen miles per hour, fast for the time period.

In 1910, a wealthy theatre owner,  John Ryan,  engaged Chris to build a boat that would reach thirty miles per hour. Pleased with his new purchase,  Ryan soon offered to become Chris’ business partner, providing funds for the venture. Smith began building single-step hydroplanes, which promised speeds of up to fifty miles per hour. The $20,000 price tag for such a boat was an astronomical price in the early 20th century.

Boats built by Smith and his sons  won a number of races and the company’s fame grew accordingly.

After Ryan’s fortunes dwindled, Chris connected with a group of Detroit businessmen. They created the Miss Detroit Powerboat Association with the object of building a hyroplane that might win the 1915 Detroit Cup.
Their 25.5 foot Miss Detroit, with thrust from a 250 hp Sterling engine, bested the competition to become the Gold Cup Champion.

Following that episode, after which the Smiths were left with unpaid bills, Garfield Wood appeared on the scene. Already a factory owner, he inspected, then purchased Miss Detroit. Both Chris Smith and Gar Wood were creative achievers who loved fast boats. They both wanted to be the best in the world. W”Well’-heeled” Wood eventually bought the assets of the Smiths, relieving them of debt while allowing them to continue producing boats.

Miss Detroit II (and next year III)  designed by “Nap” Lisee,  was completed in time to enter the 1917 Gold Cup race, which she won with a record speed of fifty-six miles per hour. Success continued in the 1918 and 1919 Gold Cup races when they replaced the Sterling engine with a Curtis aircraft power-plant then a Packard built Liberty aircraft engine.

Note: Information for this article is condensed and  adapted from the book Chris-Craft Boats,  by Anthony Mollica Jr and Jack Savage. The book is available through MBI Publishing Company, Galtier Plaza, Suite 200, 380 Jackson St, St Paul, MN 55101-3885 USA
Stay tuned for Part II!


by Rob

“Batboat” auctioned by Bonhams in the U.K.

January 18, 2016 in Uncategorized

This iconic racer was recently auctioned off by Bonhams auction house in the UK. Bidding was expected to reach $120-$150,000 CDN,
The boat was a 1914 British International Trophy Motorboat Racing Championship Contender
download (7)
Batboat III – Hispano-Suiza Engined Racing Hydroplane
Coachwork by J Samuel White & Co, Cowes, Isle of Wight and Maynards of Chiswick
Length: 25ft (7.6 metres)
Beam: 6ft (1.83 metres)
Draught 2ft (0.62 metres)
The ‘Batboat’ series of racing motorboats was designed between 1912 and 1914 by John Montague Batting, a keen sporting automobilist and sailor. ‘Batboat III’ was built specifically to contest the Harmsworth-sponsored British International Trophy race of 1914 and was of lighter construction than the heavyweight opposition, representing a new direction in racing hydroplane development. The original powerplant was an in-line six-cylinder aero engine built by the Green Company, rated at 100 horsepower. A detailed description of this craft’s pioneering method of construction is recorded in the Motor Ship and Motor Boat dated 6th August 1914, copies of which are available for inspection.

download (2)

In the same edition of this magazine a detailed account is given of the first round of trials for the British International races held under the auspices of the Royal Motor Yacht Club at Netley, off Southampton water. ‘Batboat III’ finished 2nd in the first trial behind the much more powerful (300 horsepower) ‘Crusader’, the average speeds for the two fastest boats being 36.6 and 35.0 knots respectively, and the maximum speed attained nearly 50 knots. In the event, the commencement of hostilities in Europe meant that the actual races were never run.

download (3)

Although racing for ‘Batboat III’ would be postponed indefinitely, the advent of war saw it deployed in a new role: as mobile test-bed for nautical engineering and development. Subsequently, during the 1920s, ‘Batboat III’ was used for research into torpedo design, being fitted with two Vauxhall 30/98-type engines and twin-screw propulsion. The latter form of drive, when applied to torpedoes, prevented them from turning off course, thus enabling much more accurate targeting.

download (5)

The Motor Boat of August 31st 1934, some ten years later, gives a brief insight into that purpose within an article relating to exploits of the second known owner of ‘Batboat III’ – a Commander Belleville, RN – who had acquired it in the early 1930s. A photograph reproduced in the article shows modifications to the engine covers and cockpit layout, which was extended aft to accommodate two persons in comfort with a small bench seat behind them. Exhaust stubs can be seen protruding from the port-side hull, while an examination of the hull today reveals later repairs covering these exhaust modifications.
Commander Belleville and, subsequently, members of his family retained ownership of ‘Batboat III’ well into the 1980s, when it next changed hands. By this time further changes had been made in the interests of maintaining the craft for pleasure pursuits. Some time prior or just after WW2, the twin engines were removed and replaced by a single Gray Marine ‘Fireball’ motor giving a top speed of approximately 40 knots – no mean feat for a boat now 60 years old and still going strong! Because ‘Batboat III’ was now principally used in salt waters, the original lightweight aluminium deck fittings had been replaced by more durable bronze, and the aluminium engine covers substituted for heavier and more stable ones of cedar and mahogany. Still sporting racing numbers from the late 1930s, ‘Batboat III’ was offered for sale in this form in the mid-1980s, and a comprehensive survey was commissioned by the new owner from Derek Haswell, naval architect and yachting consultant of Broadstone, Dorset. His extensive report (dated 17th July 1986, copies available) is of great interest, detailing once again the boat’s original construction methods and remarking on its fine build quality and excellent state of preservation.

download (1)

In this form the boat was purchased by the current owners a year or two later, and it has since undergone further restoration over an extended period in order to re-equip it using components more suited to its original conception. The hull was stripped and completely checked throughout, all but some decking being found perfectly sound, particularly the double-thickness hull with its oiled canvas sandwich construction, which remained perfectly intact. Some deck planks have been replaced to match the originals, while all the deck fittings remain as fitted in the 1930s.
Motive power is now supplied by a marinised Hispano-Suiza V8 aero engine of the type fitted to such WWI aircraft as the SE5-A and SPAD. This particular 10.5-litre example with Capitol Marine conversion dates from the early 1920s and is rated at 220hp; it has been refurbished and is a snug fit in the hull, which has recently been re-varnished and repainted below the waterline. Capitol Marine’s conversion provides a 12-volt electric self-starter, together with a dynamo for charging and lighting. Ignition is by twin distributors. A new phosphor-bronze propeller has been specially computed to match the power output and is geared to give approximately 50 knots at around 2,000 revs. Still to the original layout, the steering is by wire cable externally to starboard by pulleys and quadrant atop the rudder.
The cockpit is equipped with new wickerwork seats with leather cushions to an aviation pattern of 1914, while the dashboard is a new aluminium casting incorprating a complement of instruments including an early chronometric rev-counter, oil-pressure gauge, clock, etc, all of which are approximately contemporaneous with the original build date.
Currently the engine is running in after refitting, and a further period of commissioning may be needed on the water. Batboat III comes with a tailor-made, dual-purpose wheeled cradle, for either slipway launching or permanent storage when off the water, which can easily be accommodated on a flat-bed transport trailer or truck.
A folio of useful documentation and photos relating to its history, together with two large-format original photographs, taken by Beken of Cowes in the 1950s, accompanies this important and extremely rare survivor of the Golden Age of motorboat racing.

by Rob

Monday September 28, 2015

September 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

Miss Canada IV coming to Picton Ontario. October 2nd and 3rd.
Lovers of Canada’s record breaking Miss Canada IV will be delighted to learn that the historic race-boat is coming to Picton Harbour, Ontario, this coming weekend. The event is a re-creation of the day the hydroplane unofficially broke the world water speed record, reaching some 200 mph. Please see the details below.

“Finally, it’s time to share some very BIG NEWS. On October 3, 1950, Harold & Lorna Wilson’s mighty Miss Canada IV became the first boat to eclipse the 200 mph speed barrier, even though a disintegrating gearbox left her 300 yds short of an undoubted new world speed record for the measured mile. See below what Bobby Genovese’s Vintage Racing Team and our good friends in Picton have created for the 65th anniversary of that startling run into the history books” (The event will be held at the Prince Edward Yacht Club.)

-a re-creation of the world’s first 200 mph run
-display of vintage hydroplanes including Miss Canada IV
-meet the drivers and crews along with notable celebrities of current and past hydroplane racing fame
-boat parade down Picton’s main street featuring vintage hydroplanes
-water parade of vintage hydroplanes, many of which ran in races held at Hayward Reach during the 70s, 80’s and early 90’s
Miss Canada IV

Miss Canada IV-2
miss canada iv poster

by Rob

Monday December 15, 2014

December 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

A look back at two historic race boats: Miss Detroit III and Miss America VIII.
Miss Detroit
Gar Wood won the 1918 Gold Cup Race in “Miss Detroit III” powered by a rare 1916 Curtiss V-12 aircraft engine. Michael McBride captured the photos for this story on Woody Boater.
Miss America VIII
1929 Gar Wood Miss America VIII – Winner of the Harmsworth Trophy in 1929 and 1931; fitted with its original twin, one-off Miller V16 engines, which were specially designed for Miss America VIII by Harry Miller to break the World’s Speed Record.
Even in 1929, the steering mechanism on a Miss America was primitive by today’s standards! Photo below.
Miss America VIII-2

by Rob

Thursday June 6, 2014

June 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

Thrill Ride on the Rainbow class long deck race boat “Wa Chee We”.
Enjoy this ACBS Toronto Chapter Media Event video, which features a ride aboard a long deck restored race boat, Wa Chee We. This vessel is the poster boat for the 2014 annual Gravenhurst ACBS Boat Show, to be held July 5, 2014.

Port Carling Boats – Antique & Classic Wooden Boats for Sale