Snabbgående Experiment Motorbåt From The Suomen Tasavalta

This photo is from the private collection of Jani's family. Never published.

This photo is from the private collection of Jani’s family. Never published.

I love stories like today, cause I don’t have to worry about spelling, cause in a million years you would not be able to notice. And of course we could be talking about the sink in your left toe.. But then again, we do all speak the same language of mahogany love. Fellow Woody Boater Jani Vahto  from Finland sent us in this cool story. The shots are tough to see, but the design is so “bad ass”… That’s a good thing to our pickled herring friends by the way.. Anyway, the design is so “sick” that it doesn’t matter. By the way, “sick” is a good thing as well. NOT to be confused with Sikari, which is the name of the boat….OK, I am going to stop now, take it away Jani.


these shots form a recent show in Helsinki from jani

These shots form a recent show in Helsinki from Jani

This thing is cool as all get out.... OK, Get out is a good thing, It does not mean leave.

This thing is cool “as all get out”…. OK, Get out is a good thing, It does not mean leave.

Thanks Woody, I’ve got a pretty special boat to show you. She’s called Sikari, and she was built in 1929 in Turku, Finland. The company that built it was one of Finland’s most known boat building company, Åbo Båtvarf – Turun Veneveistämö. The design name of the boat was Snabbgående Experiment Motorbåt which is Swedish and means “fastgoing experimental motorboat”. So the boat was a prototype and she was built for the company’s own purposes. It’s not sure if it was Zake Westin, Bruno Westin or Jarl Lindblom who designed the boat but it has been said that all the major designers of the company were involved.

Back in the day. For the record, we have no reference to whom these photos belong to to give credit. If you own the rights please let us know so we can thankyou.

Back in the day. Private collection of the Vahto family archives

Sikari wasn’t sold to a private owner until the beginning of the 1950s. At that point the boat didn’t have an engine and the new owner equipped it with a Ford Flathead V8 engine. With that engine the boat was capable for 60 knots speed. The boat is designed so that the propeller pierces the surface of the water. The boat’s design is unique and I have never seen one like it. The boat is one of a kind. You can see it from the pictures.

Sikari has been in my family since the late 1970s when my father bought her and started restoring her. She was stored for many years, but now we hope to get her back to water next summer. WE had her in two exhibitions in spring 2013, a boat exhibition and American Car Show 2013 both in Helsinki.

You can follow Jani on his blog. CLICK HERE.

Here is a cool video of Sikari.

And One more.

23 replies
  1. Troy
    Troy says:

    A surface drive from 1929, holly crap that is excitting!

    The second video was hard to see, but I swear she was riding on spontoons. Talk about being ahead of your time.

    I think this girl saw the video, she looks pretty excited and Sweedish, besides I have a reputaion to uphold.

    • Troy
      Troy says:

      I probably should not bring it up since it will make 4 days in a row, but that suit look “PUMPKIN” Orange to me!

    • Cobourg kid
      Cobourg kid says:

      In actuality the surface drive was invented by a Canadian, here’s the story.

      Built in 1924 by Ditchburn Boat Co, of Gravenhurst Ontario, Harry Greening’s, George Crouch designed “Rainbow iv” was in fact the first prop rider.

      At that time The concept of a surface propeller was brand new having just been invented by the eccentric Canadian Albert Hickman (who had also invented the sea sled).Hickman had collaborated with Crouch on the Rainbow Iv project and with the exception of Crouch, and Rainbow’s gold cup Packard engine, she was the product of an all Canadian team.

      It’s notable that Rainbow iv actually won the 1924 gold cup, which was held in Detroit that year, but a protest was lodged aledging that Crouch’s innovative transverse strake design used on rainbow’s bottom, violated the no hydroplane rule.

      Several weeks later the gold cup was stripped from a furious Greening and subsequently reawarded to second place finisher multi-millionaire industrialist Caleb Bragg who owned and drove another Crouch creation, in the race, the famous Baby Bootlegger.

      At the time many folks believed that Greening had been wantonly relieved of the championship simply because race organizers did not want the 1925 gold cup race to be held in Canada, let alone in Greening’s home town of Hamilton Ontario.

      • Tom
        Tom says:

        Bill Morgan built a replica of Rainbow IV for Jack Binley back in the 80’s. The surface drive did develop quite a bit of prop walk. I had the opportunity to drive the boat a few times and you had to hold the steering almost hard over to port just to keep going straight and when you brought her back to center you could feel the speed pick up. I know they tried a lot of different props but I don’t think they ever got it right.

        Does anyone know where Rainbow IV ended up? I have heard it was sold to someone in Minnesota.

        Jani I like the large skid fin just ahead of the prop, it probably eliminates any prop walking on your boat. It must be an interesting ride at speed when you want to make a turn with the bow rudder.

        Beautiful boat I would love to see more pictures.

  2. Jack Schneiberg
    Jack Schneiberg says:

    I want to know how to type those little dots and “o”‘s over my letters so I can type Swedish. Also, who is Troy thinking is riding on sponsons? The boat or the girl in the picture?

  3. Sandy Squitieri
    Sandy Squitieri says:

    prop is half in -half out of the water- much higher rpms, less drag. more blades = more holding power.

    however- all drives like this go fastest in a slight curve, never dead straight. prop walk tends to swing the stern into a curve. fight it and you slow down. even drag boats fly in the curve.

    i used to race F-1 tunnel boats. up to 6 blades on the props, all surface drives.

    • Troy
      Troy says:

      Thought I might have a picture of the coolest boat I have ever seen with surface drives.
      A custom one off Hodgdon Yachts boat that screams the waters around here named Rooster.
      Knowing well that I can usually find better pix on line than in my own files I did a search.
      Guess what I found? Yup an article done by WB back in ’09.

      These guys never cease to amaze me! Every time I think I know about something special they have already done a story on it.

    • Cobourg kid
      Cobourg kid says:

      Going out on a limb here….. a couple of Finnish web sites suggest that Sikari was originally powered by either a Universal 6-cylinder, or the Scripps 120hp engine…then again that opinion is based on the google translate app

  4. Jani Vahto
    Jani Vahto says:

    Jimmuh, the rudder is indeed on front of the boat instead of back. There’s also solid fin on the back.

    Brian, we’re still not sure of the original engine. It was either a 6 cylinder Universal engine or a 120hp Scripps. Either way the original engine broke up and the company never replaced it. Then in the late 40s or beginning of 50s they sold Sikari to a private person with one condition. They said that they wanted to see the boat work the way they had planned. The guy installed a Ford Flathead V8 to the boat and drove the boat with high speed next to the company’s piers. They were pleased. 🙂

  5. Sean
    Sean says:

    Heippa Hei!

    Don’t kid yourself…Finns are FAST people…That’s why the call them “Flying Finns”! If it’s on gravel they love a 4 wheel slide flat out , on asphalt…in the corners stuck like glue (in the boost), they love ski jumping and all manner of winter sports, and competitions of all kinds.

    Why should boats be any different?

    About the ONLY thing they cannot do quickly is GET OUT OF THE SAUNA (pn. sow-na) when it’s my turn! 🙂

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