Judging – Do We Even Go There? 10 Argument Starters.


Judging on Lake Tahoe

Just when the Blue waters are calm again, dumb WoodyBoater brings up the “topic” Judging. Now, let’s set the record straight here. I really do not give a crap. But you our readers do. Phone calls, emails, and all sorts of ranting. So do I just leave it be? HELL NO! As Paul Harrison likes to say.  Blah,blah,blah, big words and something about making up drama to get clicks. YUP! Oddly Paul has the most direct POV on the topic. So. Here we go. You may want to go get some more coffee and take your Zoloft.

mmmm sip some warm varnish coffee

1. We all know the judges at this years Boat The Blue, we like them, trust them and I know from talking with some of them, they all know/knew the issues.

2. I can guarantee those out there, NO politics were considered according to the judges. Judging and politics? Really?

3. There was a very heated debate after the judging about the winners.

4. This year, according to many, the judging was better than previous years and too some worse.

5. The big guns in the culture are staying away from Judging. YUP! TRUE!

New Old Stock Turq interior for a 1961 Chris Craft – Katzs marina

6. That Green Interior on the 1961 Best Of Show winner was considered and known. BUT.

7. If you want to be judged prepare to loose. Everyone thinks they nailed it.

It floated when I got here.

8. Don’t like the judging, become one.

9. This tip from the judges. Be there and talk about your boat. Critical. Not politics, but have the facts documented. We all, ALL know that each boat came from the builder unique.

I chose a gray stain. That’s a custom top. Just like the factory made.

10. Professional restored boats VS Lenny your neighbor and you with a glue gun and dry wall screws.

I think that this just about covers the topics to consider in today’s comment section. Let it rip. We need the Blah, blah, big words clicks!

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

    I would love to hear the other side of the story on the Best of Show Restored situation. As a non-judge who happens to be a fan of the “crazy” 61 interior. that boat missed the mark in a big way. Smooth matte blue vinyl instead of textured metallic green vinyl seems like a big miss. They only got the vinyl part correct.

    As a spectator, I have no idea which boats are judged as restored vs preserved, or even which ones are judged at all, and I only see the exterior that is visible from the dock vs judges crawling inside and looking at everything, so;

    Was the selection of boats in the restored category simply thin and despite its flaws, the award went to the best option available?

    Real deal from McCall…

    Did the judges simply not know what the material was supposed to look like? It seems like they were aware.

    Was the issue noted and a deduction taken, but under the rules it is a smaller deduction and the rest of the boat was good enough to score high?

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    I messed up adding the pictures, but you can see one of these things is very much not like the others. If the reason for the judging process and emphasis is to preserve knowledge about these boats for future generations, well I don’t get it.

    One more CC photo of the collection.

    • Dave Wrzesinski
      Dave Wrzesinski says:

      I have never commented on any thing we have ever done in the past but I have the urge. Excuse the way I may say things or the wording, I make my living building things not behind a key board. I am old school. My son and I restored the 1961 Continental you are complaining about. I have been building boats since I was 9 years old and I am now 68. When I say building I mean designing and building turn key boats. I will never say we do a better job than anybody else, I just say we do it to the best of our ability. We just disassemble trees and build boats out of them. You seem to have spent a lot of time trying to prove you were right about the teal color. I am not a historian on Chris Craft or any other classic boat. That is why I went to some one that knows way more than I on the history of this boat. We now know the color is off. I am not closed minded enough to not accept constructive criticism. It just seems like the only thing you criticized was the upholstery. I did not hear any comments from you on the wood work, finish work, glass work, paint work, or the fact that we spent a lot of time and money to make the rest of the boat as period correct as possible. All the operating hardware to make the gull wing function we had to make. We copied it from pictures and a friend of mine had pieces of one of the door supports so we could try to be as correct as possible. I can only assume from what I have read you are not a judge or have ever been a judge. I am not and never will be. That is a pretty thankless job. I give credit to the people who try. It seems to me that if you spent as much time trying to help correct what you think is wrong with the judging instead of complaining about it, it might make it better for the hobby. I assume from your comments that you think the boat did not deserve the awards it won. If you base that on the upholstery issue it sounds like you would be correct. I can only assume the judges saw more than just the wrong color teal.

  3. Andy C
    Andy C says:

    First of all I am not a person who really cares about judging. I do however get annoyed when a judge tries to tell me that something is wrong with my boat when it is 100% original. If you do not know, how can a deduction be taken? For instance I was deducted points from one of my Lymans for questionable hardware even though I had a scan of the dealer installed hardware packages. The boat had never left the dealer since new, so how could it be wrong? To me, judging should be a way to get some constructive criticism about your boat and the judges should trust the owners who know their boats. Btw, I do not get any of my boats judged anymore. It is much more fun when you get an award that is not based on points (ex. Most original, peoples choice, etc..). Also, I would like to see more weight put on boats that have not ever been restored, so they are not perfect, but are much closer to how they came from the factory than a perfectly restored boat.

  4. Rob
    Rob says:

    Most of us “Lenny’s” are careful about the repair and restoration of our own boats. I also believe we have a more joyful and intimate knowledge of them than those who just turn their boats over to professional shops to do all the work. No arguing the quality of some shops, but I would rather do it myself.

  5. Rick
    Rick says:

    I was most impressed when a judge came up to me after a show and apologized for deducted points after he found out he was wrong. I’ve never heard of that happening before. Panther is not a 100 point boat and I had mistakenly check a box to have her judged when I thought the box was for not being judged so the points did not mean anything to me other than I knew the judge was wrong at the time. I go to the shows for fun and not to argue so I had let it pass . Evidently the judge must have consulted with others and put his pride behind him. Impressive.

    • Bilge Rat
      Bilge Rat says:

      “It floated when I got here.”

      Reminds me of the classic phrase “ran when parked” that we see in ads for old cars and boats.

  6. Johnny V.
    Johnny V. says:

    From the pictures, it looks like the material in the ’61 Continental is more like the later Super Sport interior vinyl. I wasn’t there, didn’t see it, and obviously was not privy to the judge’s decisions.

    Regardless, many people like and want judged shows reflected in the higher participation and quality of boats where judging takes place. Matt’s points #8 and #9 are very important!

  7. Mark Edmonson
    Mark Edmonson says:

    Being in business for forty years and knowing what was correct and what was not I enjoyed the feed back from the judges at Boat the Blue, Very professional and willing to point out things to correct. With four customers boats and our own being judged I was very please with three Gold and two silvers awareds

  8. Verne
    Verne says:

    In the area of a boat entered in an “original/unrestored” category, I believe there should be no points judging. That only promotes some “fluffing” of original features to gain more points, thus erasing the originality. Rather, the boat should be divided into categories, such as interior, engine, hardware, etc, then given a percentage assessment of its originality in that area. The goal would be to have your boat “certified” as original in all categories having perhaps a 75% or better score in each area.
    Originality should be Certified only without having 1st, 2nd or 3rd place awards. This way, the boats remain original rather than being spiffed up to gain points and a higher award. The preservation of history/originality should be worth way more than a $10. trophy.


  9. Sean
    Sean says:

    Classic boating is fun. The more people the merrier so, in my mind the idea of shows is to attract new people to the hobby. (We can see all members boats at on the water club runs). So, the most important award is the peoples choice. That’s what John Q thinks is cool. The second most important award is the long distance award as this shows commitment to the hobby and makes the shows better. That said, there are those that like high level judging… great. This should be done just at the ACBS International show (Make it the Super bowl, Indy 500 or Daytona 500 of woody boating) where the best boats and best judges can shine. Then at least all the participants know the drama they are in for.

    Now, south of the 49th y ‘all know your Chris Craft and Century specs down to the zippers & screws. However, I doubt there are more than 2 people on the planet that know more about my Greavette Sunflash than I do (he says humbly). Add to that how much people really know about DONZI, Formula, Hydrodyne, J-Craft, Grew, Sidewinder, Martini, etc…. and you see the knowledge pool narrow considerably when the broad spectrum of boats is concerned. This is not a level playing field and can never be, as there’s just too much to know and no group of “experts” is going to be able to know it all at every show.

    A broader conceptual issue concerns those that go buy a boat, have it professionally restored or, are good enough amatures they should be professional and bubble wrap the thing, only to see the light of day on judging day. This discourages new participants and is not what the hobby is about (at least I hope not). Maybe all 2nd and subsequent restorations for any member should be in the professional category?

    Then there’s the restored boats that have virtually no original material left. These are portrayed to the public like they are 30, 50, 90 years old and a closer look will show they originated in the 2010’s or close to that. How is an honest, regularly used old boat with it’s patina (even after restoration to functional) supposed to compare? Think of the type of boat that a person new to the hobby would buy and restore in his garage. No matter how proud (to friends & family) do you think they will want to bring it to a show? Lets be honest here… and not hide behind technicalities of ACBS restoration rules. These types of “restorations” are total re-builds if not replicas in everything but name. While we’re on the subject of honesty, let’s ensure that replica boats are portrayed to the public as such. John Q at the show thinks these are real antiques.

    In closing, for all the energy around judging, I believe the general issues outweigh the benefits to the hobby (and may even be counter productive). While a new person my want to get involved in this aspect, I’ll bet there’s 10 more that it scares away (even if judging is optional). As a general practice, judging awards create more divide within the community than bringing the community together. Keep the social awards, the sponsor awards and the peoples choice then, let the few who are really in to this duke it out at the ACBS International each year.

  10. Mike Green
    Mike Green says:

    If we are going to pick shit apart we should really look at all the information so everyone can get a clear picture of what really happened.
    The boat at this year’s international show is wrong because it doesn’t have metallic in the teal color. The rest of the boat is spot on and a very high point boat. When Don Hardy and I were doing the 2 Continental’s which were the first 1961 T-top boats to be done. I supplied the paint codes for all of the painted parts on the boat. I also made some parts for him, the poles and a couple of other things. I did the same for the boat that just one at this year’s international show. Don’s boat Fin and Tonic had an old interior that was supposedly a correct old stock but I never saw or even thought to ask about the color because we had what was supposed to be the original interior in the boat. I then went ahead and made 3 interiors 1 for our boat and 2 for Marine Services. So basically it’s my fault that the color may not be right and there is no metallic in the teal. The rest of the interior is spot on and factory correct.
    The judges did deduct for the no metallic but not sure for the correct color. Which I believe was a point or 2 in that category. Other than that I am not sure what else was deducted and the boat was very factory correct. M-fine was at the show and thinks he knows what he’s talking about but once again he’s mistaken. There are a few individuals that spout off but don’t know enough of the real story that hurts the hobby. Last year there was never an award given to a boat that was not there. There were 2 of the exact same boats and one didn’t make it to the show…it was in my shop. I was sitting at the awards and they mixed up the owners name. It was corrected immediately and the correct boat got the award. Once again the whole story was not told and just the bad part to scare the ACBS. I agree last years show was not judged correctly due to the head judge at the time. After the show he was relieved of his duties and about ten restorers and judges from around the country went to work to change things for this year’s show. Regardless of what people think or say the show was the best ACBS show judged ever with a group of extremely talented people involved.
    I posted the interior part of the judges sheet so everyone can take a look. The interior and upholstery section is a 22 point category. On line 61 you have materiel, pattern, straps, tags, springs, type and house keeping. In the deduction column you have 0, .125, .25, .5 and other. So my question is what would you deduct for the wrong teal color? You fave to be fair because the rest of the interior is correct so its just the teal color.
    My point here is to educate everyone a little more and get the story straight. The boat in question is not a simple boat like an 17′ Deluxe or a Thompson outboard. Its a complex boat so if the boat had 1 or 2 things wrong with it that the judges didn’t miss and then deducted points for it it still leaves this boat a high point boat.

  11. Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U.P.)
    Mark in Ohio (sometimes da U.P.) says:

    You can tell its late September. If this topic was brought up on a Sat. in July there would only be three short comments.

  12. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    So Mike, what have I said that was not 100% correct? Where am I mistaken?

    The “facts” that I have stated is that I think the color is off, the texture is off and the metallic is missing. I think the evidence is pretty strong there.

    I have no idea how it was judged or if it was properly judged according to the rules in place. If you say it was, I have no reason not to accept that as true. I have never stated that there was anything shady about the way the judging was executed.

    It is my OPINION that the interior is a huge part of what makes a 1961 Chris Craft utility unique and desirable. Following that, it is my OPINION that getting that interior wrong should be a bigger deduction than the things that are not visible behind the dash or under the engine box. You may not agree with my opinion but that doesn’t mean I am mistaken about anything. I know what I saw, I know what the pictures show, and I know I wasn’t the only one in the room who was surprised by the award.

    • Johnny V.
      Johnny V. says:

      Just one guys opinion, but I agree with M-Fine-on what should be a 95+ point boat, the interior color ought to be correct. Without knowing how it and the competition scored, I won’t question the outcome and there’s no judge who knows everything about every boat.
      I’m not knocking ACBS and judging-I’ve recently become re-involved in judging after a long hiatus. To the detractors-please get active and share your knowledge. Most of us are happy to learn.

  13. Mike Green
    Mike Green says:

    M-fine i’ll just come out and say it. I don’t care for you negative comments and what you say about the ACBS like some how you no more then most. Have you ever attended a meeting or are you even a member? I think there’s a group that goes to the ACBS shows that the chapters work hard to put on and then report back to whom ever will listen about whats wrong with the show or the judges or anything else they can dig up. You are not helping the hobby your hurting it with comments like “Did the judges simply not know what the material was supposed to look like?” The people that really do care work hard with the in hobby and for free!!! Yes you opinion is yours and for some reason right or wrong it means something here. There’s more I could add about your comment but I’ll just leave it alone, its not worth it.

    • tommyholm
      tommyholm says:

      I’m with Mike on that one. Just because one blogs the most doesn’t make him correct or smart – even if it is the Internet. M-Fine’s long record of negative comments regarding Century boats has gone beyond annoying as it is without knowledge or experience. Take a long boat ride to no where and learn some etiquette.

      • Dave Nau
        Dave Nau says:

        This is all getting a little crazy. This hobby is supposed to be fun, judging or not.

        Every owner of a boat registered and taken to an ACBS judged boat show can choose to have their boat judged or not on the registration form. It’s pretty simple.

        For local shows, some ACBS chapters use their own scoring system. Our local North Coast Ohio Chapter uses the official scoring system and sheets. The ACBS International Show each September uses it’s own official scoring system and sheets, which only makes sense.

        All ACBS members have access to these sheets. There are worksheets that even apply to fiberglass, aluminum, plastic, and steel boats and are labeled NON-WOOD OUTBD and NON-WOOD INBD in the Excel spreadsheet. ACBS Members, after logging in, can go to:


        There was a new wood inboard scoring sheet (the most commonly used sheet at a show) adopted at the just completed 2018 annual meeting on September 13, 2018, and was used at this years show, September 14-15, 2018. This new sheet has a incremental point system that goes down to an 1/8 point, and it is at:


        I also really like how rather than just competing against other boats, there are awards for Silver (87-91 points), Gold (92-96 points), and Platinum (97-100 points) within a category. That way, maybe a boat does not win an overall at the show, but gets a Platinum, Gold, or Silver award, and thus still recognizes that entry as a top boat.

        Now, all judging is going to be a bit subjective, Even in baseball, there will always be arguments about an umpire getting a call right. And just like in baseball, the system keeps getting refined over time to try to improve it. Will boat judging ever be perfect? Of course not, but it’s getting pretty darn good, in my opinion.

        Also, there is now a video on YouTube taken by a drone of the whole Boat the Blue (River Street Marina) show area. It’s huge and if you were not able to make it to the show, it will give you a flavor of just how big it was this year. Enjoy it at:

      • m-fine
        m-fine says:

        My comments about Century boats were an old joke. There are a number of Models I am actually very fond of, and have stated this many times.

        • Mike Green
          Mike Green says:

          You can dodge around it all you want??? You know you comment almost daily about what ever when ever. You have never restored an antique wooden boat or any boat. The reason I said anything is because my character has had enough of the BS and most of the people who really want to say something wont.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      Mike, the symbol “?” at the end of a sentence means that it is a question not a statement. It was a fair question in my mind because unlike the BS about me that you assume and have stated, I don’t pretend to know what happened or how the process works. So God forbid, I asked publicly thinking someone here would have answers. I don’t think it is going out on a limb too far to think that no judge could know everything about every boat and maybe in this case a judge simply didn’t know. I asked some questions to get the answer to how that boat could win. You provided the answer that it was judged properly according to the sheet and the deduction was simply small enough to not bring down the over all score. How hard was that?

      Why it has to go beyond a discussion of the facts and our opinions and turn into personal attacks says more about your character than mine.

      I have opinions on what helps and hurts the hobby and our clubs, others have different opinions. We should be able to deal with different views like adults. Things like judging and magazine publications should be openly discussed and debated and we aren’t all going to agree, but continuing with status quo doesn’t seem to be effectively drawing in younger generations and $$$ to ACBS, CCABC or the hobby in general. My opinion isn’t any more important than anyone else’s, but I will post it here when I feel like it unless Matt asks me not to.

  14. Matt
    Matt says:

    Wow! What a day! I hope you all got a taste of what my emails to me and phone calls captured here. I will say that mfine has hit a nerve and the culture needs that. He is saying what many feel but won’t say. And mike green also gets to tell the complete picture of the process. And as a judge we have to trust the process. It’s interesting to see this play out. I will add that making that interior may be impossible in today’s chemical climate.

  15. don danenberg
    don danenberg says:

    Judging “Antique” boats…., Oh Brother….;
    What.., Matt.., did you just (try to) signal an end to this discussion?

    To begin with, judging is constantly evolving as we all see more boats and learn that there can also be variations from one hull number to the next, in the same year and model. They simply were NOT exactly, identically built like automobiles are. The 18ft Riviera comes to mind, where there were 3-different bowlights used, 4-different steering wheels, 2-different types of rubrail, 2-different types of CC logo, 2-different styles of quarter-rails, and 3-different styles of sewn cushions? Also, possibly due to temporary wood shortages, the 1951 models changed the butt schedule in the topsides planking.
    I asked Chris Smith to say something about this, which he did in the Forward section of my “How to Restore” book, volume-2. Note that he mentions upholstery.

    My 1939, 19ft barrelback, #48510, which had been in storage for 49 years, had NO “Genuine Leather” in the remnants. I had 4, old-time, tack-spitting, upholsterers disassemble portions of this, I have photos and videos. NO other tack holes were found and ALL upholstery was “U.S. Naugahyde” (patented in 1936 and specified in other CC boats as ‘Imitation Leather’). I spent 3-days at the Mariners’ Museum going through the Micro-fiche reels and found that the 47th hull card began listing the upholstery as “Genuine Leather”.

    Ask Joe Morrison to corroborate all this, ask him to explain how he was the very LAST employee of the Algonac CC plant. He worked in the Parts Department, which was the CC Archives until everything was handed over to Tom Crew of the Mariners’ Museum.

    We are, apparently still learning, even the judges? I was in attendance for the judging of “Bad Behaviors”, a 1942, CC, 19ft barrelback, at the Port Huron show. The judge claimed that all screws were Phillips and should be slotted????

    I argued; You will NOT find a Phillips screw in that boat, go back and look.., All are Frearson! And NO, they should NOT be slotted, that boat is a 1942, and CC switched to Frearson in 1941 as part of wartime production. There is a factory engineering memo dated June, 1941, that says so!
    He argued that Frearson was just a manufacturer, and that Reed & Prince was the design?
    EXACTLY the opposite of true!
    I spoke to Joe Morrison about this travesty, and he said NO, pulled out his smartphone and googled Frearson screw drive, and found a British patent for John Frearson in mid 1800’s.
    I have since found the U.S. patent for John Frearson in 1884 and mention of Reed & Prince Mfg. Co. as the largest supplier.

    This well-known Tahoe judge must have been convinced by my tirade, or by someone else that he trusted, but the boat was given Platinum.

    I was once a judge, and will never be again, just because I’ve been in it long enough to have seen so many variations in the same model boats.

  16. KW
    KW says:

    I am still in shock that Don died and came back and is now in the lingerie business. ps Don your material needs to be more sheer.

  17. don danenberg
    don danenberg says:

    Oh Yeah…,

    What… we’re OUT of the metal-flake stuff……??

    Shut the plant down, send everybody home..,

    Nope, it just didn’t happen that way.

  18. Briant
    Briant says:

    Wow. A nice civil war in the boating community…..just like the fury taking place in Washington. And a topic of judging on the very day elected officials are deciding the fate of a judge and the direction that this nation will head off into for the next fifty years.

    The only problem I see with judging a boat is what occurred this year at our local Lake Oswego show. Instead of charging the usual $10 to enter your boat in the show, the local chapter thought is a good idea to up it to $60….so that you had a ticket to the awards dinner. So if you’re like me and don’t give a rats butt about awards, you either didn’t enter the show, or you ponied up the cash for a dinner you never ate. I guess it was easier to hold people hostage to force them to attend the dinner….rather than change things to make it so folks wanted to attend.

    KA-BOOM! Well, there goes that bridge…..

  19. Johnny V.
    Johnny V. says:

    Can’t say I agree with that, but charging a premium for judged boats is a good idea. I’m happy to judge a boat, but don’t bring a “user”boat back year after year without doing anything to it and ask to have it judged every time-your score ain’t gonna get any better.

    BTW-Good topic Matt! Discussion is helpful.

  20. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    I have no comment, other than to say Mats a bit of a devil stirring up this hornets 🐝 nest. Very entertaining!

  21. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    I have heard that the Miss America pageant will no longer have a swimsuit competition.

    What is this world coming to?????????

    (images may be subject to copyright)

  22. Tyson K
    Tyson K says:

    Why does there have to be judging? If only to satisfy ones ego? You can have someone go over your boat and tell you what’s wrong/right with it without getting a trophy……..

    Personally, and this is just my opinion….nobody is ever happy with the judging of ones property. Whether it be boat or car. Someone will question a score, or be bummed, because of a judges opinion. I have seen more arguments at the end of a show because “how did my car/boat come in second? Mines got better paint” or whatever.

    Shows should be, you come, park/dock, enjoy peoples company, answer peoples questions, admire other peoples stuff…..and at the end of the day, everyone goes home happy having a great day….and not pissed about the hardware they didn’t get.

    • Brian Robinson
      Brian Robinson says:

      Agree Tyson, but competitiveness is human nature and boat shows, car shows, dog shows are no different. We crave competition. Twenty years ago at our local Arrowhead show we dropped judging and awards and people cried for them back. You can make some of the people happy some of the time but you can never make all people happy all the time. Personally I am in favor of judging at the big shows like Tahoe, the ACBS int., and maybe Clayton- but local shows should be a show and shine.. maybe with a People’s Choice trophy only.

  23. Johnny V.
    Johnny V. says:

    Our participation went up after we reinstated judging at our show (Wine Country-Hammondsport NY). We have a good proportion of non-judged boats also and encourage each owner to make their individual choice-non judged boats and owners are not treated like second class citizens.

Comments are closed.