I Was Robbed! The Frustrating Job Of Being A Classic Boat Show Judge, Or Being Judged.

Woody Boater Mike Mayer Judge, And Great Guy!

Here at Woody Boater we have had a hand at the judging thing, and for me personally after one try, I tapped out. To intense for me. Texx, and Mike Mayer, Brian Robinson, and others actually went as far as being a judge at lake Tahoe, and I salute them for that! There was a fun comment a couple weeks ago from “Mark”, “What do you do when you aren’t happy with a youth judge score”?

Those are some tough judges! Sunnyland Show

It unleashed in my mind crying kids, a grown man who would now have to go to anger management classes, and a whole lotta issues. It also dawned on us here that being judged is always tough, and more importantly, being a judge is hard as well. There are countless things to consider on both parts, and if you don’t think politics don’t play a part in it, you are fooling yourself. As my father used to tell me, Everything is politics, its just that there is the good type and bad type.

Judges relax on Lake Tahoe

First, lets explore being a Judge. One, you are Volunteering your time. No going out on the boat having fun, you are knee deep in someones pride and joy and invading there time and passion. You also are dealing with someone who in there heart believes they have done everything right. And you are about to crap on there dream. Even if you are right. Politics are there. See my point. Now multiply that by 30 boats in one day, and it can get a bit crazy. Things like one screw off, can indicate a loss, vs someone who has taken a boat to the extreme. What ever that is.

Texx judging Rivas at Sierra Boat Co on Lake Tahoe.

Still using canvas between the bottom planks. And lets say you have a flawless 17 Runabout, and there is a flawless rare special Racer. The racer will win, because it just stands out and is something new to see.  Or looses to make a point. There is emotion in being a judge, Pride, Fear, And trying your best to be Fair. We are blessed to have many great judges out there should understand when we are having our boats judged, that these Judges are also our friends.

Judging – Lake Tahoe

Being Judged. I have had one boat judged. And the reason why was because I wanted to know what was wrong, not try and win something. And I didn’t win. I had spent over $150K on a restoration and wanted to make sure I did it right. I hadn’t. But I think I went into it with the right mindset. Because I was not disappointed, I love to learn from my mistakes in things like this.

Winning an award is always fun!

If you are easily frustrated by being judged and having people judge you, don’t have your boat judged. Or enter the boat in other areas, like Peoples Choice or farthest traveled, or stuff like that. I am not saying don’t have your boat judged here. Just come into in in the right way and everyone will be a winner, you, and the judge. You will also find if you approach things that way, the judges will tell you everything and be open to a dialog. Like, that fishing box is from the factory!

My old Barrel back being judged. Yikes!

OK, therapy session is over. Can we all have a hug now. Got any Judged, or Being  judge stories? Do your math and comment away! maybe it will help make our shows even more fun. If that can even be possible!


33 replies
  1. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    I give this story a score of 73. Points off for words used or spelled incorrectly, photos that are not factory original to this model, and a big deduction for a closeup of Mayer.

  2. Rick
    Rick says:

    I did the awards thing with Panther, Got a couple and now I’ve stopped. It was a rush at the beginning but for me I enjoy the shows more without it. I’d rather take people out for rides and less stress leading up to the shows. Yes I still make her look good but I don’t have to get down into the bilge to detail everything. Maybe in the future I’ll do it again. To each their own. And yes I’ve seen politics sway awards big time, as have most.

  3. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Yorktown is so far from original that it will never be judged, but personally I love the custom Mahogany engine cover and seat backs. The red seats look great with the white piping. All that said, I am proud that she is still running her original 6V MCL.

  4. Gene Porter
    Gene Porter says:

    A brief tutorial for woodyboaters new to the arcana of ACBS judging.
    The g0ld standard is preservation or restoration of “originality” (except for varnish of course, and a few specified modern safety mods). There is a standardized, detailed scoring template for hull, engines, etc. which many but not all event use.

    The problem is that, in the absence of builders drawings, spec, etc, volunteer judges must rely on the best available information. In the case of Chris Craft, this means the factory hull cards – which are scarce to nonexistent for all other brands. Ideally the owner will have sales material etc that can be referenced, but but judges are still faced from time to time with a really nice boat from an obscure builder with no references for judging originality. Here knowledge of common building practices for the period in question can help, but perceived “appropriateness” also plays a role.

    Again, the whole purpose of the ACBS judging program is to encourage preservation of the originality of these wonderful vintage craft. Matt’s positive appreciation of the feedback process is illustrative.

  5. Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
    Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

    I stopped having my boats judged when i had the main judge tell me that the stain on my 63 Carver was incorrect. The boat was fresh out of its original boathouse, I had documentation to the fact , showed him pictures in color of it from 1964 and i was still wrong. The guy had never seen a Carver or owned one.

  6. Mark
    Mark says:

    Yes. I said that …

    The last thing I need is a judge telling me what is wrong with my boat after spending 8 years restoring it.
    Trust me. I know every ding, scratch and run that there is. Also, there is no where near enough shows judging amateur and professional separately.

    I will be woody boating instead and having a blast !

  7. Brian
    Brian says:

    Matt spelled Mike Mayer’s name correctly twice in the same story. I have to quit Woodyboater now.

  8. Tim Robinson
    Tim Robinson says:

    From a Judges perspective I am always amused when a boat owner will try and convince you that there deck seems are wider then normal or that special piece of hardware was a special order. If you can’t prove it with documentation don’t try and BS the BS errrrrrrrr. The standard is “as delivered from the factory”.

    Ps: Mike Mayer and Bride coming over today for a boat ride. I will have plenty of beer in the cooler.

  9. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    Just out of curiosity, does “as delivers from factory” include 12 coats of varnish and a 5200 bottom?

  10. Dave Ball
    Dave Ball says:

    We have a small show at Leland Mi in the fall each year with about 25 local boats. It was judged for a couple of years. We stopped judging when we deceided that they are all winners. Now every one is happy!! Also no one is P Oed at the restorer because the did not win.

  11. Ranger
    Ranger says:

    I know we couldn’t put our boat in a big judged show and expect it to do well but we’ve won a lot of really cool and memorable awards with it.
    Please bear with me but I’d like to share this story with our woodyboater friends.
    When my dad passed away in 2009, I emotionally decided his boat had to stay in the family and bought it not knowing that the condition of the boat was not good, horrible would probably be a better description. We had absolutely no clue that it was going to cost us any chance of ever retiring to restore it!
    In 2010, we took the boat to Hartwell, Ga. it was our second show ever after attending Sunnyland the month before…
    At the awards ceremony they were talking about previous winners and said David Willard! Now we didn’t think dad had ever won an award with the boat so I hopped up and said that’s my dad. They looked at me and told me it wasn’t. What? Turns out there is another David Willard who also loves antique boats. Then the awards were handed out and we were named Best Runabout, I was nearly in tears…
    You see it was my dads birthday and he didn’t know that I would be the one that would want to care for and love his boat so I truly believe he had found a way to let me know he was with me!

  12. Dennis J Mykols
    Dennis J Mykols says:

    I am in the camp of no Judging for me. I enjoy making the craft “MINE” with any and all little creature features I see fit. I make my classic either run better, or easier to enjoy while behind the wheel.
    Now with that said, I have won many awards over the pass several years, but of the fun kind. Hacker reps gave me the Marque award at Geneva, then I received the Captain’s choice award in East Jordan, our first boat show by the way.
    And along the lines of fun awards, I have been the Head Judge for the Hagerty Insurance Youth Judging Program, at four shows.
    I think these type of awards are as much appreciated by the winners as a 100 point judged award.
    The shows that provide EVERY exhibitor a “Token Award” such as a small transom plaque or a ribbon, are all something you can place on a shelf or wall as a remembrance of the event.

  13. Sean
    Sean says:

    These awards seem to be a contest of who had the deepest pockets. To that end, maybe these boats should only be judged at a “Superbowl” of boat shows… like the Pebble beach Concours D’Elegance for cars. Possibly, this would be at the ACBS International show each year. Then the rest of the shows can do the “feel good” awards like the peoples choice, longest travelled, oldest floating, etc… that encourage people to participate in the hobby.

  14. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    Judging a boat isn’t exactly fun. I like doing it because it’s the only way I’ve figured out how to get on boats at boat shows.

    Dragging a boat for hours and hours to get to a boat show isn’t exactly fun. I do it because it’s the only way I’ve figured how to get a boat to a boat show.

    Using the boat is where the fun comes in for me. Sure, restore to “show” quality, have it judged, fix a few things, stop having it judged and use it.

    I plan to be very tough judging Tim Robinsons boat today and I have no comment for m-fine.

  15. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    Here’s a picture of Dick Dows ‘new’ R&W from the Chris Craft rendezvous. Dick was kind enough to give my wife and I a quick ride. He judged quite well in my book!

  16. Dennis J Mykols
    Dennis J Mykols says:

    I see more shows adding “Sponsor Awards” where sponsors, and local dignitaries, like local Police Chief or Mayor, etc, will select the boat of their choice, based on nothing more than “I want to take that one home” appreciation.
    Again these awards are less stressful for the Show Organizers to manage, less hurt feelings, etc.
    No one can, or should, argue with a Sponsor’s personal choice, if one does, he is attending the show for all the wrong reasons.
    A major Sponsor of five Michigan Chapter boat Shows, Dr. Roger Pecina of Mahogany Outfitters, not only provides each show with monetary funds, but also a cut glass CUP trophy to the “Best Early Fiberglass”. Dr Pecina describes “BEST” not as a 100 point boat, but the owner’s enthusiasm of the hobby and use their boat. How the owners help promote the trend to buy early FiberGlass boats, the story of the restoration process, as well as, the overall appearance.
    His choice my not be the highest point boat judged by the show organizers, but rather the “USER” vessel that encourages new people to want to jump into the hobby and give us a try.
    Do not get me wrong, I have the upmost respect for anyone who volunteers their time to be a show Judge. The patience, knowledge, and dedication these men and women have to preserving that part of our hobby is key to our future.

  17. Verne
    Verne says:

    Don’t forget that some boats are delivered to the dealer without hardware and it’s the dealer/buyer who picks what they want to have installed.

    • Miles Kapper
      Miles Kapper says:

      Responding to Verne above….and therin lies an issue which at the least can be quite complex as in the case of Thompson boats as well as many others, particularly boats that were outboard powered and all the variations on how the boat could be ordered from the factory, especially when the dealer made more money by putting on their own 3rd party accessories.

  18. Bob
    Bob says:

    Long ago I gave up “trailer queens” for both land and water toys. I drive them all, don’t care if I get a nick or scratch, enjoy giving rides, don’t care what other people think of my toys and generally always have a great time when out in something that makes noise from fossil fuel. My goal is to save one kid every year from “thumbitis” due to an IPhone; let them drive, show them what a clutch is, hear a four barrel carb dive into the secondarys, smell the oil, fuel and leather, have a desire to get their driver’s license and forget about Uber, show them how to use tools and get grease under their fingernails, hear the water slap against the wood at 60 mph, etc. Self-driving? That’s make as much sense as an honest politician.
    Tie your boat up to a dock all day to watch people gawk? Hope to “win” some little plastic trophy? Hell no. The goal is to UNTIE the boat and go get it WET!!! Life’s too short to be a pain in the ass snob at the yacht club anyway.

  19. Phillip Jones
    Phillip Jones says:

    Throw a Shepherd in at one of these shows south of Gravenhurst and watch the head scratching. Ha . I got dinged for my horn button not working. Explained to the judge that old Shepherds had there horns in the dash, my steering shaft does not have a hole through it to run any wires through, and that Ken Wykes ” Mr. Canadian/ Shepherd verified this, but alas I was shot down, but hey I have done this job many times at our show, and its not an easy job. I just try to be as honest and up front giving accurate info about her when she is judged. I was anal about every minute detail concerning hardware, but in the end veered off on one major detail. But what the H(&%% the Hemi is still a Chrysler product EH!!!!

  20. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Interesting commentary…I’ve been on both ends…I had a 19′ Racer restored. We thought she was good but were curious to see. We took her to Lake Winnepesaukee…Judges gave us first place with no comment… So nothing learned there…Although it was a great and enjoyable show.. As an aside…the funny part was the judging was a Weirs beach but the awards ceremony was at Wolfboro. I said how do we get there…Locals said take Highway ??…and go to……I said wait a minute…I drug this boat all the way from Florida…I’m not going around the lake by car…They said…Well okay go across the lake by boat but watch for the “Witches”…Rocks just below the surface… Well we made it..

    Then next week we went to Clayton…Same song…second verse…So I said to Terry Fiest a friend and Judge…Are you sure there is nothing wrong with my boat…He said I’ll tell you if you promise not to get mad…And so we looked at the boat together… He told me two bolts in the manifold were in backwards…We brought the boat home and fixed that.

    When John Dubicas was Chief Judge at Clayton, I was on the team…I can tell you that our team judged fairly…Maybe were were just too new to know who was important and who wasn’t..

    At Couer d’ Alene, I was given the honor of carrying the score sheectin the contemporary class for two real judges.
    Our first boat was a plastic boat…The real judges were ready to give it high marks. They were experts on wood but had never seen this model. I had owned the very model. I said lets start with the added swim platform and went forward with the non original upholstery, etc. etc. By the time I got thru we were down to a pretty boat being a 70 point on the judging sheet. Just depends on who is judging and how familiar the judges might be with that group of boats.

  21. Resorter1761
    Resorter1761 says:

    I quit the being judged thing after loosing by one point in the non-wood category to a boat that was a 1976 model….1976, the acbs categories at the time specified 1975 or earlier…pretty clear to me, this was at the annual acbs event no less…all politics.

  22. Bill Anderson
    Bill Anderson says:

    I enjoy a trophy but it is the main thing but I do have a problem when you go to a show and there is not many fiberglass and I have been received well and to find out if you don’t go to banquet you cant win a trophy,,so do they judge the boat or me,I am not a banquet person,everybody is different but that is my opinion,,Bill

    • Wilson
      Wilson says:


      Not to quibble…But most everybody has to eat and I usually see more people at the event dinner than I run into on the dock. And at some events they have a pretty informative dinner program. Just my thoughts..

  23. Edward Chewning
    Edward Chewning says:

    Just give everyone a blue ribbon , participation trophy everyone is the same, nobody has a better boat ,problem solved, just like little league,

  24. John Bettano
    John Bettano says:

    I have never entered our CC it’s for enjoying and having people on board whom will enjoy the thrill. Wash wax and buff is all part of that enjoyment. I much rather ride than sit and be judged.

  25. Johnny V.
    Johnny V. says:

    I should have my head examined……….after many years of inactivity, I got talked into judging at Hammondsport this year and agreed to be head judge next year.

    PS-Nice picture of Mike Mayer!

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