Raceboat Fever Draws Massive Crowds To Gravenhurst, Ontario – Part 2

Image 31- Aintoinette

“Antoinette V” – a meticulously restored 1929 Kramer Boat Company (Hacker designed) racer was in my opinion the boat that stole the Gravenhurst show. – CK

Yesterday in Part 1 of our 2 part report from the 33rd Annual Toronto Chapter ACBS Antique & Classic Boat Show in Gravenhurst, Contributor Cobourg Kid and his sidekick Cousin Glen introduced us to the various vintage raceboats at this years big show. From little (but fast) Sea Flea racers all the way up to V-8 powered hydroplanes, if you like vintage raceboats, the Gravenhurst Wharf was the place to be.

Today in Part 2 – Cobourg Kid & Cousin Glen take us through the impressive collection of wooden Gentleman’s Race Boats which were on hand for “The Greatest Race Boat Show in Canadian History” presented by the Toronto ACBS. In the unlikely event that you missed Part 1 yesterday, you can Click Here to check it out. – Texx

Raceboat Fever Draws Massive Crowds to Gravenhurst
Part 2 – By Cobourg Kid & Cousin Glen

Having taken in the racing let’s have a look at a small sampling of some of gentleman’s racers lurking along the two massive docks. In general this group was made up of meticulously restored historic craft complete with original engines and reproductions of historic designs with modern (often exotic) motive power.

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Owners John and Amy Zea and their restorer, Morin Boat Works of Bay City, Michigan, have done an incredible job recreating original hardware and installing period correct details on the 26 foot “Antoinette V” a 1929 26′ Kramer Boat Company Product. The 6 cylinder 225 hp Scripps engine in itself is breathtaking!

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“Antoinette V” sports an astounding period correct Scripps engine. Sadly I suspect that in the old days that Scripps would probably spew quite a lot of oil over that pristine bilge.

Next up T-14. This elegant 22 foot custom designed gentleman’s racer was designed, constructed and ultimately delivered in 2001 to owner Terry Hoffman by Lance Wilson of Runabout Restorations of Umatilla, Florida.
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The workmanship on this boat appears to be meticulous, according to information available on line its modern 502 Chevrolet can push T 14 to 60 MPH.

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Note the Ear Muffs on the Kid… Kudos Mom!

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“Ponder” a 27 foot Ditchburn Viking is an old friend of mine.

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I can remember seeing her slip by several times while cruising with family members on the Segwun in the 1980s and 1990s. “Ponder” is now in her 84th year on the Muskoka Lakes and time appears to have been kind to her, however, I suspect that owner Drew Tilison’s careful maintenance is the real secret to her longevity.

The next trio of raceboats have one thing in common, they are all reproductions of mid 1920s to mid-1930s gold cup raceboats crafted by the talented Mark Mason and his crew at New England Boat and Motor, Inc. in Laconia, New Hampshire .

Image 38-Impshi

“Impshi” was originally designed by George Crouch in 1925. Horace Dodge built and raced her for a few years, renamed her “Delphine VI” then sold her. Dodge subsequently bought her back and renamed her “Hornet”.

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She was later wrecked in a Presidents Cup race and was once again rebuilt by Dodge in 1936 who renamed her “Impshi” – thus going full circle.

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“Palm Beach Days” was based on a set of plans sold by John Hacker to Harry Greening in 1922. Ditchburn Boats of Gravenhurst subsequently used the plans to build Greening’s highly successful racer “Rainbow III”. The boat was subsequently sold to William Bigelow, a resident of Palm Beach Florida and was renamed “Palm Beach Days”. Bigelow raced the boat for two more decades, representing the Palm Beach Yacht Club.

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Designed by the venerated marine architect George Crouch in 1915 “Heldena II” was constructed over the winter of 1915-1916 by J.J. Taylor and Sons Launch and Yacht Builders of Toronto. Originally intended as a luxury launch her owner, Fred Miller (an “energetic” Toronto based engineer and businessman) soon discovered she was quick enough to compete against contemporary raceboats. Originally equipped with a straight 8, 225 HP Van Blerck engine Heldena was re-powered in 1919 with a Smith Twin Six Liberty V-12. Between 1916 and 1921, “Heldena II” captured two world records, including the title of fastest displacement hull in the world, when she was clocked at just over 42 mph. Overall she was actively campaigned for over five years on the Gold Cup circuit and ultimately went on to serve as a Toronto Harbor Police Patrol Boat. Many years later Rick McGraw purchased a somewhat disheveled Heldena II as an “unfinished project and had Peter Breen Boats of Rockwood Ontario meticulously resurrect her. The restored boat debuted in 2002.

Other interesting boats included:

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“Claire II” a 35 foot Hutchinson Brothers product built in 1921 owned by Murray Walker.

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“Jeffery” a 21 foot 1939 Greavette gentleman’s racer.

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“Loonacy” a 20 foot gentlemen’s racer built in 2005 by Fish Brothers of Queensbury New York for John Trainer.

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“Flying Ebony” a rare 29 foot Gentleman’s racer built in 1940 by Morris Boat Works of Hamilton Ontario, complete with a modern 12 cylinder BPM engine.

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“Rainbow IX” a 26 foot Chris Craft racer built in 1922.

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“Circles” is a handsome 1937 18 foot Greavette Flash Gentleman’s Racer. Its owner, Roger Werner has done an admirable job conserving this elegant boat, notably ensuring the preservation of its original Grey Marine 140 power plant.

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“Silver King” – John Ringling’s 1927 Ditchburn Gold Cup Race complete with original Hispano-Suiza eight cylinder power plant.

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“Rainbow I” a 32 foot gentlemen’s racer custom designed by Gary Clark Boats in the Style of the Fisher Alison class raceboats built by Ditchburn.

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“Rainbow I” engine bay with monster 12 cylinder BPM engine nestled within. (this photo is worth enlarging by clicking on it – wow!)

Image 51-Maggie-Marin

“Maggie Marin” a 28 foot hacker inspired Gold Cup racer hull with 1920’s period hardware and 550 HP Entec motor. Completed by Breen Boats of Rockwood, Ontario in 2013.

It’s obvious that this small sampling of wonderful wooden watercraft only represents a small fraction of the total on display at Gravenhurst Warf, nevertheless it’s important to note that all of the show entries were worthy of individual coverage.

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Before closing this chapter I do want to mention Tim Obrien’s 21 Foot Home Built 1922 Hacker “Palm Beach” replica. Not only was this boat beautiful, it’s obvious (through the O’Brian’s participation in the Woody Boater Poker Run) that “Sla’inte” is a boat that gets a lot of use. In addition Tim’s on shore display was unique. It included a sheet that set out exactly what it cost to build the boat!

By this time it was getting late in the afternoon, so having inspected all of the boats on display and taken in a large part of the live raceboat demonstrations, we decided to take a much needed rest and cool off with a few beverages on a restaurant veranda overlooking Gravenhurst Bay.

As we watched the sun sink toward the west and the RMS Segwun and the Wenonah II parade silently back to their docks we reflected on our day… and decided it had been well spent.

Cobourg Kid & Cousin Glen

Image 53 Steamboats
Special thanks to Cobourg Kid & Cousin Glen for preparing these excellent, informative reports from Gravenhurst. We appreciate the effort and attention to detail.

Also, thanks to the folks from the Toronto Chapter ACBS, the Directors and members, and the many volunteers for making this 4 day event such a wonderful success. In todays world of classic boat shows and events, it takes a special group of people who have the imagination, commitment and energy to try new and different ways to showcase the hobby… and make it a huge success. Nice work!

And finally, thanks to all the participants and classic boat owners for stepping up to the plate and in some cases hauling their precious boats for many miles to Gravenhurst to support the Chapter and the hobby.


4 replies
  1. Philip Andrew
    Philip Andrew says:

    Applause gentlemen! What a truly glorious article. Thanks for the story and all the great enlargable photos.

  2. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    Sla’inte was one of the five boats from the Michigan chapter that participated in, and thouroughly enjoyed the Friday poker run. WoodyBoater should make events like this a regular part of their boat show activities. Thanks again CK, Glen and Texx!

    • Dennis Mykols
      Dennis Mykols says:

      Another Poker Run will be held next Friday July 19th On Torch Lake in Michigan in conjunction with the “Cruzin for the Cure” event. This is a Water Wonderland Chapter sponsored event. 20 + boat have per registered.

  3. Alex
    Alex says:

    Super coverage! Truly. Appreciated every word and pc.

    Would have loved audio on that BPM, but what’s the point. Gotta be there to FEEL the sound of such a monster clean through your chest.

    Re the Scripps, yes they leaked an oil well or two’s worth in their day. When I burned some original bottom planks from my Scripps-powered boat last year, the smoke was black and the fire burned and burned. Red Adair had to come put it out.

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