The Future Is Here! – 1969 Chris Craft Commander Wins Big In Clayton!


Huge news out of Clayton, long time fellow Woody Boater Aaron LeDonness stunning 1969 CC Commander Super Sport won Best of Show – Preserved Runabout in Clayton. This is the first time that has ever happened. We suspect it will happen again from this point on. What is so special about all this, is that we are seeing history happen. Yes, I know, we are not talking about the Gettysburg Address, but in our small world, this is the beginning of the future of our passion.


It will seem normal at some point. And we are seeing it happen here. If you have ever seen this stunning 1969 Commander, it will all make sense. It’s stunning.. No short cuts, and a ton of perfection. Stay tuned for a huge story Tuesday from Kent O. Smith Jr who said he has enough for a two day story.. Ouch..








Out zipping around with Bert Harris and his stunning 1970 Fino



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

    Have I mentioned that I need an XK?

    Actually, now I need a new left knee and a car with an automatic transmission, but after that I need an XK.

  2. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    If two is a trend, I think we may have one starting. Bill Stephenson’s Fino was awarded the Best of Show at our St. Clair show back in June. We were fortunate to also have Wood Island at that show, so I know how deserving both both are of the awards. Congrats are definitely in order!

  3. Sean
    Sean says:

    Beautiful boat! Love the XK.

    Is this the beginning of the end for wood boats? Are they destined to be replaced as collectors the way they were replaced in a contemporary boating market? One can only speculate…

    • Jack
      Jack says:

      Where’s the wood?
      Plastic hull? Hell yes!
      Classic wood deck and interior? Hell Yes!
      All plastic? Why?

      The future needs wood!

    • Brian Flaherty
      Brian Flaherty says:

      The hard truth is YES!! As the old curmugeons kick the bucket their prized show boats get handed down to kin that have no sentimental attachment to the boats other then resentment cause “dad sunk all his time and money into this stupid pile of firewood and never let us drive it, and we had to always take our shoes off”. Then those kin folk put the boats up for sale CHEAP and people like me come along and buy it… Then the very first thing I do is put a fiberglass bottom on it so I go out wave jumping (like the photo above) and not have to worry about blowing the bottom out of it…

      The fact is that kids (12-25) these days do not have the fondness for the old wooden boats. Don’t get me wrong, they still flock to them at shows and launch ramps but they will probably never own one as they are getting to be so expensive that no one can afford to buy and maintain them anymore…

      Now I just had our 100% fiberglass 1969 Cavalier Ski Boat out on the lake yesterday and we had three “old timers” and their grand children pass by all the $50K wakeboarding boats just to come over an oogle our boat. The kids will likely have a stronger fondness with fiberglass because I threw them in the boat and let grandpa take their picture behind the wheel!! Most “woody guys” would never let some strange kid climb all over their $100K show boat. Thus the beginning of the end…

      You can see the writing on the wall by looking at the classic car circuits. You don’t see Bugattis, Duesenbergs, at car shows anymore… You see classic muscle, rat rods and full customs; because that is what the next generation is into… Their are many shows now that have folded and started allowing the “classic” ricers to display their rides (now you’re talking ’70s and ’80s Hondas, Datsuns, VWs). The same is coming in the classic boating arena. You’re going to see Bayliners, Reinells, and even Fiberforms are going to start showing up in their “fully restored” conditions…

      Now to set the record straight as to why I (an avid fiberglassic person) am even on Woodyboater… I was born into and raised in woodyboater family. My parents joined the PNW chapter of ACBS only months before I was born and have been active members my entire life! I have had the pleasure of riding in and often driving some of the premiere woodies in the northwest. My first (memorable) boat ride was in the back seat of a late ’30s Chris Craft Triple. The first time I ever drove a boat was at the wheel of ’50s Capri!! I am only 30, but I have a great fondness for wooden boats and I hope to instill that same fondness in my children, but the opportunities to do so are become increasingly rare as these boats continue to get squirreled away into collections and museums…

      END RANT!

      • Brian Flaherty
        Brian Flaherty says:

        After rereading my post above, I think some people are going to be offended…

        So I offer a solution to the problems I described above:

        #1 get your woody out!! Don’t let these beautiful boats just sit in museum or boat houses. Get on the water and let poeple see your boats! The only way to get younger people into the hobby is to show them that the hobby exists and is atainable.

        #2 take a kid for a boat ride!! A lot of the smaller shows have opportunities for boat rides and boat parades. When you’re getting ready to leaving the dock look around, if there are young families standing there drooling over your boat, OFFER THE KIDS A RIDE! Not only does this excite the kids but it shows the parents that the wooden boat community is a friendly one.

        #3 this is the hard one… We as a community need to find a way to get some “entry level” boats out on the martet. The Cavalier devision built 19,295 boats at entry level pricing at a time when the boating market was low. Where are all these “low end” boats now?? Why is no one restoring these? If there was a way to get some of these boats back on the market it would present the perfect opportunity for new, younger, people to get into wooden boating for a significantly lower cost. Also, being plywood they would be much less worry and mantainence than the traditional woodies…

        I commend the owners of boats like Baby Bootlegger and Miss America IX for taking the risks to bring their prized boats out and show them off. And to the folks who get their runabouts out on the lake every weekend, you are what keeps this community alive, not the museums!

        • Sean
          Sean says:

          What is a ‘low end” wooden boat? My plywood Greavette set me back about 6K when I bought it. 30K later it’s a fantastic everyday boat! It turns heads and will break a real 50mph on GPS plus I can pull the kids tubing (or skiing).

          However, as I have changed to modern V6 power and replaced the vinyl flooring with carpet she’s no longer “original”. ACBS does not really like “resto-mods” and as a plywood boat is garners little respect.

          For this kind of investment I can buy today a DONZI GT21 that is sorted, fast and fabulous! There are plenty of performance boats I can get for much less investment like a Panther 24, Warlock, Donzi Minx, 16, 18, 22 (I love old Donzis and have a 1965 16’) or Monza to name a few.

          I have my Greavette because I always wanted one. One of the reasons it’s popular with others now IS the new motor and it’s performance capabilities. We don’t need to expand to Tupperware… just embrace resto-mods and keep them cool.

          • Brian Flaherty
            Brian Flaherty says:

            By “low-end” I mean a boat a person can purchase for well under 10k and most likely get restored to their liking (either preserved, factory restoration, or resto-mod) for under 40k… This puts total investment around 40k which would be equivalent to buying a slightly used “Tupperware” boat…

            I compare this to my “lust craft” a late ’50s 23 ft Continental which I would have to drop 50k just for initial purchase then go and have it “restored” to my satisfaction so then I am into the boat, probably 75k…

            I completely agree that there needs to be an acceptance of “resto-mod” boats as many of us choose fiberglass for the hardiness and safety (not blowing a bottom out in rough water, or having to swell the bottom every time you take it to the lake). But in the ACBS rules you get heavily penalized for having a fiberglass bottom or modern (reliable) power.

            Although it seems to me that the people that are the most upset about allowing fiberglassics to be involved are the ones with big money into boats just for the purpose of winning awards… The folks who really use their boats for their original, intended, purposes usually welcome the fiberglassic people with open arms. Perhaps that’s because they recognize the common interest in enjoying the use of and preservation of classic boats.

        • Alex
          Alex says:

          Hi Brian. I’m not among the offended. I can see your passion shining through. You, like most or all on this blog want to see wood continue to succeed and glass be accepted. I think that will happen. Over time wood is destined to be rarer as these boats were never intended to last forever (just like us). And yes, the cost to restore, preserve, and operate them will only rise. And yes, the trailer queens will never touch the soul of a family and hence will not be passed down. (Though they will get sold to another person who prizes them.)

          You’re right. Using a boat to make memories is key to it’s survival and to the survival of family wooden boating. Rest assured in my family’s small corner of the universe that’s exactly what we’re doing.

          And yes, we even own a 15′ Cavalier, which is getting her name hand painted on tomorrow. She’s our family’s entry level learner boat. She has a steering column mounted spoon (throttle), a Bakelite Sheller wheel, a floor mounted shift lever, inline ML 6 cyl power, and a rudder. Her name: “Training Wheels.”

          Take heart.

  4. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    You are so right…it is new…first Tupperware party I ever cyber attended! Embracing change! Neat Boats!
    I had to do a double take…thought I must has logged on to

    John in Va.

  5. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Nice to see the type and style of boat my kids grew up getting some recognition….Now if I could just find that 1966 Cobia with the Merc 115…It was crushed when a tree fell on it during a hurricane and no doubt the insurance company sent it straight to the dump.

  6. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    My thoughts about the new ACBS rules on later models is that we will have more great looking boats coming out to ALL the local shows, thus increased exhibitors, and attendees, which is all good for the hobby.
    As I cruised along the shores of Lake Leeland this weekend, I saw a lot of Woodies in boathouses and tied up in slips, not being used, OR brought to a Classic Show. WHY? Age/health of the owner? The hassel of starting her up, and cleaning?
    I see this all the time, across the country. Why do woodies just sit in a slip, and not be used?
    If half of the Woodies I see in the water, attend a local show, we would have bigger turnouts. As a “USER” of my classic, it seems Fiberclassic guys are as well, which is a good thing for the hobby… My 2 cents this am.

    • Alex
      Alex says:

      Hi Dennis. Come to Hessel. They’re all used up here. This week is Boat Show week. There’s a 22U coming by my place about every half hour. (Pretty sure it’s not the same boat just messin’ with me. Ha.). Anyhow, rest assured. There are still parts where oudinary folks use their ordinary wood in ordinary ways.

      • dennis mykols
        dennis mykols says:

        i was just going to say, there are places like the Hesells area and others that do use thier classic, without saying. But i have been more and more aware of the sad fact that many classics do not get used. Even on my lake, Spring Lake, i go by several woodies, just sitting therein the slip behind a nice home, and i never see them out on the water. Torch Lake/Clam River was another area i noticed a couple of weeks ago. Sad…

  7. Redbeardsraven
    Redbeardsraven says:

    wow… has the time come for us all to, wrap our ass in fiberglass ???? say it isn’t so !!!!!!!

  8. Grant Stanfield
    Grant Stanfield says:

    WOOD ISLAND and all her XK sisterships are drop-dead gorgeous!

    There’s something very, very right about the styling and proportions of this particular Chris-Craft model…a boat that’s simply beautiful from any angle.

  9. Rich Marschner
    Rich Marschner says:

    “Watershed this is”, to quote Yoda. My hope is that future collectors and one-boat owners will come to the hobby with a plastic hull, but will learn to appreciate the Chris Smith and Sons and other early models in time. Maybe even want to own one. If not, at least appreciate them. Otherwise, who’s gonna take my CC barrel into the 22 Century? Nobody in my family.

    • Brian Flaherty
      Brian Flaherty says:

      Rich, you nailed it! This is what my vision is for the future as well. I believe the leaders of ACBS have seen this vision as well. It’s not that they want to replace the woodies with fiberglassics, but rather by allowing the fiberglass boats to enter he shows brings more people in, not only participants but spectators! The ultimate achievement would be for someone like me to bring a glassic to a show, have a spectator fall in love with it and buy it. Then I can take that money and invest in my continental (ideally one I spotted at the show)!!

  10. Nautilus
    Nautilus says:

    There is a happy medium…mahogany interior trim work. I do this for clients all the time and the results get rave reviews. I once docked during an in-water boat show of new boats and my 25 year-old Chris Craft Scorpion that had been given “the treatment” drew quite a crowd. I was asked to move the boat!

    • Dave (cc1000)
      Dave (cc1000) says:

      Jan, Your restorations are a perfect example as to why ACBS also needs a modified category for Fiberglass and Wood boats that have been modified from their original configuration. There are quite a few fine looking boats out there that would never be able to place given rigid judging guidelines, but (in my opinion) should be able to. Dave

  11. Ron
    Ron says:

    The Chris Craft Lancer 23 Inboard is another great Fiberglassic. With a 327F fresh water cooled ( factory).
    Lots of space and accomadation on board, with a v-berth and a Head ! Try to imagine how handy that is.

    The lancer was a beautiful boat, and made the logical replacement for my 1960 24′ Holiday. It was also beautiful, but had a ‘soak’ bottom and a 312 Dearborne Interceptor with dual side draft carbs. ( factory ) and always fuming.

    The Commander-series Lancer was a solid, safe boat; but I have to say the Holiday and Lancer both saw a lot of happy cruising hours, with many a guest.

  12. Ron
    Ron says:

    … Like I said … The Lancer was Sharp and Solid …. We did California Coastal Cruising, and Solid is crucial in ocean swells and cross-chop.

  13. Craig J
    Craig J says:

    The fiberglass revolution is upon us. The Lancers and other Corsair division boats are gaining a strong following and we are seing many high end restorations.
    I am currently restoring my third as we speak.
    First was a 75 19′ Lancer which was just sold.

  14. Craig J
    Craig J says:

    Now I’m working on a boat for my dad. It’s a 67 Corsair Castaway. One of a hundred built and very rare these days.

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