A Hagerty Marine Photo Shoot…. Becomes A Woody Boater Shoot – Out, On Lake Dora


It all started when we agreed to help our friends Carla and Chris from Hagerty Marine Insurance with a photo shoot during the Lake Dora boat show on Friday morning.

The photo shoot was scheduled for 7:00 AM in the calm waters of a secluded safe area on Lake Dora, with the objective of capturing some unique images of “Miss America IX” – Charles Mistele’s amazing historic 1930 Gar Wood race boat.

Alex on stand by to capture images for us.

We were providing the shoot boat, our all-original 1960 Chris-Craft 24′ Sportsman named “Suzy” is perfect for the job, she is stable and can take the heat. And if I may say so. eye candy compared to most photo boats.

Miss America IX , the calm before the storm.

 The job for this photo shoot was to capture images of “Miss America IX” at speed on Lake Dora, which meant we had to drive parallel with the “Miss America IX” maintaining a consistent speed in the shoot boat, allowing Charles to accelerate past us. Because “Miss America IX” is a single-step hydroplane with a bow rudder, she needs to be up on plane in order for Charles to properly (and safely) steer the 30′ boat.

Alex grabbed this shot of Photographer Roy Ritchie shooting Miss America IX. I have to say having that boat pass by is breath taking.

On board “Suzy” was the professional photographer Roy Ritchie , Chris from Hagerty and Alex Watson with his camera in hand.  “Suzy” was running sweet, the big 275HP 430 Lincoln never sounded better in the crisp morning air, and although we had to hold a steady speed for the photographer, she wanted to go faster, and I found myself having to pull the throttle back to keep our speed down.

The twin 550HP – 454 Chevrolet’s in “Miss America IX” sounded fabulous as she accelerated past us, and every time she went by, I swear “Suzy” wanted to go after her.

At that point I whispered to Alex – “Suzy wants to go, I think we should Wick-it-Up with Charles on the next run and see what she can do against Miss America?”… I can take her..

Alex responded “Are you frickin nuts man… You wouldn’t stand a chance against that 1,110HP Hydroplane!!”

We stopped in the middle of the lake for a few minutes, so we could discuss the plan for the next photo session, and just before we were ready to do another run, I gave Charles “The Nod”… and then glanced down the lake. You know – The same “Nod” we made as kids when we pulled up at a stop light late at night with our muscle cars… you give the other guy “The Nod” signaling that you wanted to “Wick-it-Up” when the light turns green…

The cool thing about Charles is that he gets it big time. This is not just a museum piece. It’s a living part of our history and when it comes to life. That brings the real thrill of what folks must have felt when Miss America IX raced.

At this point we put alex on the dock at HQ and said.. Get a record of this.. It’s dance time!

Suzy taunting Miss America IX.. She can drive circles around Miss America IX.. Literally.. But that wasn't enough.

It was time for a smack down.

When we were ready for the next run, I fired up “Suzy” first and slowly circled further signaling my intentions as Charles calmly brought the twin big-blocks to life.

And off we went… I had one more look at my gauges as I brought “Suzy” up on plane…

Charles followed and quickly got “Miss America IX” up on plane and checked to make sure the coast was clear ahead…

At that moment – I looked at Charles, and he looked at me, I gave him “The Nod” and we put the hammer down… I even opened my windshield to reduce the wind resistance.  The big Van Ness  430 responded nicely to the throttle and “Suzy” leaped forward for a moment… Alex was amazed that we were keeping pace with Charles. Holy crap, we are actually doing well…

Then, we heard this loud exhaust noise coming from “Miss America IX” – Like an angry roar of an animal… Carla was riding with Charles and she looked over at us, waved good-bye and the big Gar Wood hydroplane took off like it was shot from a cannon! I honestly thought we had lost the engine or put the breaks on. Mother of god that boat past us so fast.. And he was playing around..

Gone! poof! Off to brag.. I whimpered back to get Alex Paul and Mike.. they had caught the entire thing on video..

[youtube width=”440″ height=”344″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfNA96rb-fQ&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]

Well. At least I can carry 9 people.. Oh and turn.. Ugh who am I kidding.. Miss America IX is amazing! Stay tuned for more on the water fun from Lake Dora!

17 replies
  1. Rick
    Rick says:

    Well how cool was that, I had to watch and listen to that a few times, love it!  Yea you were doing well as long as Miss America was idling.  Suzy looks great but its like putting the local athlete against an Olympic sprinter. Still a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Miss America probably drifts out of gear faster that my little B engine does at wot. Great shots and keep the video coming. 

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    LOL, even with the same power that stepped hull would beat the pants off of Suzy, but with nearly 4x the horse power and a steped hull?  Fuhgetabowtit.  

    The key here is that they are very different boats designeddot have different strengths. The important takeaway from this shoot out is that one boat can’t do everything so it is critical that we all own several different boats. 

  3. Alex
    Alex says:

    Uh, Matt.  I think Miss America can carry more than Suzy’s 9 people.  I’ll bet I could put my wife and I (and a sitter) in the cockpit, and my 3 kids and all their friends on that endless front deck (complete with their little pinwheels).  “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

  4. mark Edmonson
    mark Edmonson says:

    Matt, at least you can say you got to try to take her on.  Some of my best boat rides were with Charle’s dad getting to ride in Miss America on the St. Clair River, in St. Clair doing photo shoots back in the day.  It was a blast to always pull away for the photo boat!!  One time we took the Local Detroit TV station reporter and camera man for a ride and the camera man wanted to lay on the front deck to shoot a shot of Mr Mistele driving wide open.  So we tied him to the front deck and I had to duck down between those roaring engines at top speed.  A little scary!

  5. Matt B
    Matt B says:

    Funny, I had the same experience at Lake Geneva. I was out with a friend in his Shepard, Charles was ripping up and down the lake. On one of the passes we pulled along side miss america maybe 50-55 mph Charles stayed with us for a while and then put the hammer down and pulled away like we were standing still.  But oh that sound……

    Looks like you guys had a ball,  you’re livin the dream man. 

    FRANCHINI says:

    What kind of alternate Woodyboater reality do you live in that you not only get to use your boat, but you drag race a vintage race boat WITH your insurance agent on board? Chris and Carla are the greatest and I can’t wait to see the marketing plan roll out this year. “Wanna race your vintage boat? We cover that, but only if we can ride along!!”

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      I don’t think Suzy goes fast enough for Chris and Carla to lose any sleep about Matt “racing” her.  I am sure that big lincoln gets Suzy on plane pretty good but if she goes much over 45 mph, Van Ness put some serious black magic into her.

      The policy on Miss America is probably a different story!  1100 hp, hard to see where you are going over the big nose when on plane, goes over 100 mph whn you get bored of toying with Matt, and it does not steer well when not planing.  Sounds like an underwriters nightmare!  

  7. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Nothing like the power of big block Chevys.  Makes me want to pull out my flatbottom SK v-drive 454 and get busy with the restore.  When it did run, the smile that it put on your face was automatic as the wind hitting you at 70 mph peeled the corners of your mouth back whether you wanted to smile or not. 

  8. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    …and its great that Charles Mistele is so willing to jump in and hammer this piece of floating history for photo ops or to give someone a ride.  I can’t remember where I read that Charles’s father found Miss Canada languishing in the US somewhere and took the time to make sure it got back in the hands of the Canadians so they could have and restore an important piece of their racing history.  What a great and selfless thing to do for this hobby, he should be very proud of that.

    • mark Edmonson
      mark Edmonson says:

      I remeber when Harold found her I think it was in the early 80’s when he towed it home to St. Clair.  I also remember him finding the rightful home for her.  He was a great person… 

  9. Allen
    Allen says:

    How fun thanks for sharing that in video for us all that didnt make it down this year…..you guys are great……

  10. Dick Dow
    Dick Dow says:

    The only thing better would be to have the fully and correctly restored “eight”, the “nine” and the “ten” there all together… 

    Nice shots! Has Carla been able to wipe the smile off her face yet?

  11. Scott Ales
    Scott Ales says:

    Sadly, Eight is stored just 5 miles from the event.  Since she is still unvarnished wood the owner wisely decided not to display her.  Just couldn’t risk a Florida shower or windy storm.  Hopefully these great Garwood’s can be together again someday!  It would be fantastic to see the three running side by side after all these years.
    Always something to look forward to though….

  12. Larpin Pierre-André
    Larpin Pierre-André says:

    Heureux de constater qu’il se trouve de par ce vaste monde, que je puisse rêver en admirant de superbes photos de yachts à voile ou à moteur, peut-importe. Malgré une morosité mondiale bien existante, il reste de “grands gamins ” continuant à entretenir un joyaux inestimable aux noms qui nous rappellent le génie de Messieurs, Fiffe, Anker, Herreschoff, Sparkmann et Stephens et les centaines d’autres qui ont contribué a écrire l’Histoire du Yachting, comme d’autres celle de l’Automobile, sans omettre l’Aviation et un grand bravo à ceux qui consacre leur argent et qui nous permettent de continuer à rêver
    Pierre- André Larpin

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