Raceboat Fever Draws Massive Crowds to Gravenhurst
Part 1 – By Cobourg Kid & Cousin Glen
Last Saturday’s clear skies and warm temperatures coupled with the promise of Raceboat action drew near record crowds to Gravenhurst, Ontario to check-out the ACBS Toronto Chapter’s 33rd Annual Antique & Classic Boat Show.
In an obviously successful bid to raise interest in the history, culture and use of wooden boats, the Chapter decided last year to switch up its standard format to concentrate solely on showcasing antique and classic raceboats on land, in the water and actively racing around a demonstration circuit set up in Lake Muskoka’s Gravenhurst Bay.
According to ACBS Toronto Vice President Kathy Rhodes, total attendance last weekend was somewhere close to 5000 people –considerably higher than recent year’s attendance. She also indicated that more than 140 boats were displayed in water and on land and of those more than 60 were in the inboard/outboard pit areas and ran on the demonstration course throughout the day.
Part of the draw involved a planned circuit run of the recently restored Greavette built Raceboat “Miss Canada IV”. Piloted by Harold and Lorna Wilson in October of 1949 MCIV set a new North American record straight line speed of 142 M.P.H. Fuel problems unfortunately kept them from making a return run the next day and previous world record, set by the British Boat “Bluebird II” remained in England despite the fact that MCIV had equaled it.
Strangely, despite a number of successful test runs during the last few weeks, it was that old demon, the fuel system, that marred MCVI’s highly anticipated debut at the ACBS show. Jamie Smith, the restoration team’s coordinator, told the press “there’s still a lot of summer and life left in the famous race boat”.
Despite Miss Canada IV’s failure to launch, owner Bobby Genovese took the opportunity to take “Miss Canada III” out for several circuits around the demonstration course, a move that was welcomed by the crowd.
Around noon another unrelated issue arose, dock capacity. The best viewing points on the grounds to view the raceboat demonstrations were on the “T” docks that extend out from the two piers. Unfortunately the “T” docks could not handle the throngs of people who wanted to view the action on the course. Noticing that the “T”s were listing, ACBS very wisely implemented a plan to restrict the number of folks who could get out there. Not unexpectedly some race fans were not overly happy about this turn of events, thankfully, calm prevailed.
Arriving at the boat show around noon, I decided to wait out the worst of the dock-traffic and visited the ACBS member’s tent where I was treated to a fantastic lunch cooked up by the capable staff the Blue Willow Tea Room.
With lunch over I sauntered over to the Maple Leaf Chapter of the Antique Outboard Motor Club (hard up against ABCS Headquarters) and discovered a very cool world of antique small craft and outboards on display.
Here’s a little taste:
The Muskoka Sea Flea group has a huge, active website, to learn more you can Click Here to check it out.
Ok with the small boats covered it’s time to wander around and take in some of that raceboat action!
Wandering through the Hydro Pits we find…
Scrambling back out of the Pit and back down to the main wharf, we find a gaggle of smaller step hydros dockside, among them:
By now out on the race course things are beginning to heat up and despite the dock limitations, I was able to capture a few long shots of the action for Woody Boater.
Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2 of “The Greatest Race Boat Show in Canadian History” presented by the Toronto Chapter ACBS.
Tomorrow Cobourg Kid & Cousin Glen take us through the impressive collection of wooden Gentleman’s Race Boats that were on hand for the show in Gravenhurst. It’s simply amazing!