The Lake George Donzi Classic Club – Keeping The Donzi Mystique Alive & Well

Last week Woody Boater featured a story about a very cool, very classic Donzi Hornet 19 owned by fellow Woody Boater Royce from Lake Okoboji, in Northwest Iowa. The story generated a great deal of interest from the Woody Boater Community, and has led to what we hope will be an offical “Classic Fiberglass Shootout” next summer.

Fellow Woody Boater Alex Watson, who will be representing the Chris-Craft XK-19 model at the shootout e-mailed me late last week to say “Hey Texx – There’s no ice on the water up here in Hessel yet, why wait till summer… I can have my XK-19 ready to launch tomorrow!” Well, after some careful consideration (about 30 seconds), we decided to wait until next summer when the weather is warm, the water is warm, and we can convince some hot models (women not boats) to attend the official photo shoot in conjunction with the shootout. (Wait – a photo shoot at a shootout… this is getting complicated)

Since that story ran we have been learning more about the Donzi Marque, and we can honestly say that the more we learn about these classic Donzi speedboats, the more we have come to appreciate just how cool these boats really are. Yesterday we received some additional information from Matty and the guys at the Lake George Donzi Classic Club that we thought would be fun to share with the Woody Boater community.

Matty commented

Texx – The Lake George Donzi Classic Club is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the Donzi classics and the people that love them. We run 2 yearly events, the first event is the “Spring Dustoff”. This event has been run every Father’s Day weekend on Lake George, New York for the past 16 years, 17th this year. The club is a resource for the people who want, love, own or restore these great classic boats. The club also wants to preserve the history surrounding the classics. The club has enjoyed honored guests at the “Spring Dustoff”. Michael Aronow – son of the famous Donzi racer and builder Don Aronow. The legendary Walt Walters who designed most of the classics (including the Chris-Craft XK) has also been our guest. It was truly special to see the man who designed and built these boats in the 1960’s, once again have the opportunity to see some of those very same boats alive and well some 40 years later on Lake George.

Our members also help with the cause. Paul Herzan has been key in getting a lot of the history and drawings of the classic Donzi speedboats donated to museums for future generations to see and learn. Many of our members have taken upon themselves to make key restoration parts and components, decals, scripts, knobs and other accessories. They have made these available to other members to help with their restoration needs. Friendships have grown, long expeditions to find the rare barn find boats are common, or the long weekend trip to help a member with a project.

The club presents awards at the show for outstanding members, most original, longest traveled, best restoration, peoples choice, best resto-mod, and oldest classic at the show. To help the members learn the history of the Donzi Marque we have a yearly trivia contest, the winners have there name placed on “The Golden Prop of Knowledge” and after the show, there is a full lake cruise followed by lunch and an awards dinner held at the Algonquin restaurant on the lake at Bolton Landing. We run the cruise with the permission of the Lake Commission as we also like to promote our lake and safe responsible power boating.

The second less formal event is our “Family Picnic” which is held the weekend after labor day each year. It is a laid back event (not to say that the Dustoff event is not laid back) but with awards and judging we do need to keep somewhat on schedule. At the fall picnic we welcome all sorts of classic and Aronow designed boats. It is more of a pack you own lunch or favorite recipe to share with others, grab a ride in a different model (boat not woman) or style boat, keep the grill running all day and enjoy each other’s company while riding around a few times during the day in some great classic boats.

Legendary Boat Designer Walt Walters

We have started to document the boats and the history of them as well. We will be launching an updated website in the near future, but for now if you would like to see more photos of the annual “Dustoff” and “Family Picnic” or learn more about our club, you can visit our website and gallery section at or by clicking here.

Matty – Lake George Donzi Classic Club,
“Keeping the Donzi Mystique Alive”

Thanks Matty… Here’s a few shots of another beautiful Donzi, this one is a very rare 1968 Bench Seat Hornet. This boat is owned by Paul Herzan and underwent a total restoration over a 3 year period. The deck was removed and all coring, transom and stringers were replaced.

The boat was done in its original yellow color gel coat. Every single thing on this Donzi was put back to the way it was when it left the factory in 1968 except the power. The boat originally had a 289 Holman Moody Ford with a Volvo 250 drive. We repowered it with a Mercrusier 383 Scorpion stroker motor with a Bravo drive. It’s a hand full!!!

As we were preparing this story, Matty had a great idea, he said “Texx – Reading your article last week gave me an idea… The flags on the side of the early Donzi represented victories won… Why don’t we continue that tradition?”

“Our club will donate a Donzi flag and we need to find someone to donate Chris-Craft flag. The victor of the Woody Boater “Classic Fiberglass Shoot Out” will capture the opponents colors and bragging rights!”

“If you need anything “Donzi” the knowledge and help of the club is at your service.” – Matty

Great idea Matty, and we have the connections to get our hands on a period correct Chris-Craft flag for the shootout. One of the first things you will notice if you ever do any research on Donzi boats is how they seem to attract women in bathing suites, both the classic boats and more recent Donzi Marine photos seem to share that trend, and who’s going to argue with that – Right Guys?

Special Thanks to Donzi Marine for sharing these beautiful images with us, you can see more cool Donzi boats at or by simply clicking here. (Go to the Z-Homepage at the top and click on Donzi Girls)

Photo Courtesy -

Happy Holidays! – Matt & Texx

43 replies
  1. 72 Hornet
    72 Hornet says:

    Great feature today on an incredible group of Donzi afficianados! In my opinion, the Hornet Bench Seat model is the holy grail of that era of performance boats. Matty and Scott are incredible at what they know and thier skill sets at restoring these beauties. Another great feature here on Woodyboater! Every morning when I open up to Woodyboater, is like opening up a bunch of chocolates, you never know what you will find! Merry Christmas to all!

  2. Allen
    Allen says:

    Maybe we should change the monaker to “Goody Boater” and include Sea Ray, Hatteras, and all the others….think the winter off the water is effected you guys……we must have run out of good woody stuff…..whats going on the Golden pond boats…..etc…..and now Forest Gump….lol….think I’ll go to the garage and smell some varnish……or should it be gel coat…..I am so confused.

  3. matt
    matt says:

    When we started this site 4 years ago, we had no idea that there was so much to talk about in an interesting way. The most fun part of this is learning as we go as well. Trust me there are mornings that I just sit in front of the screen and wonder what in the hell i am going to butcher today with bad spelling.. And then this sort of thing comes in.. I have fallen in love with the Donzi brand, and never in a million years thought i would like a plastic boat. But these have soul.. period.. Thats the big difference. They were sold and used by folks with passion.

  4. anonymous
    anonymous says:

    Donzi may have that unapproachable girl perched on the bow but we have WoodyGal smoochin’ for the camera!

  5. 72 Hornet
    72 Hornet says:

    Allen, if it makes you feel any better, I just came home with a 1948 Century Resorter last evening that a good friend of mine’s father had restored back int he 80’s. They left the boat outside coevered (for the first few years) and then just left the boat for dead. I pulled some hardware before I drove away for fear of it falling off going down the road. It is a burn pile victim, but the hardware is in great condition. I have also spent the last two months refinishing another Resorter, so in between sanding and varnishing, my mind wanders back to fiberglass. Must be the fumes! I am at 9 coats of varnish now and it is really starting to show depth, flatness, grain and shine, but wow, the sanding gets old! Then I look at my Donzi in the building next to me and enjoy the differences in the two mediums….Opinions are like… Everyone has them!

  6. Don P
    Don P says:

    What about the classic 20ft Cigarette that was made in the mid 70’s and then brought back out for a limited run in 1995. Great looking boat and great riding boat.

  7. Allen
    Allen says:

    Gee thanks, Hornet I needed that…..but the Donzi babe looks pretty enticing……how do we get one of those ornaments for our plastic or wooden boats…….think that might get anyones attention !!!!


  8. George Carter
    George Carter says:

    Fresh gelcoat is just like the nine coats of varnish……..
    After you sand the new gel nine or ten times before you start buffing!
    The main difference is the gel usually is only replaced every 20 years or so.

  9. Texx
    Texx says:

    This week Woody Boater prepared a story for an international classic boating publication in Europe.

    The subject of the story, which was requested by the editor was the state of the antique & classic boating hobby in America. (A brief overview) The story also focused on wooden boats only, because we were not sure if the international readers were interested in hearing about the fiberglass side of the hobby.

    The day after we submitted our story, we received a call from the publications editor requesting that we revise the story in include a section on classic fiberglass boats, which we were happy to do. These classic boats are now very much a part of the hobby everywhere and we think they are important to the overall growth of the hobby.

    Who thinks Woody Boater should do a viewer participation story about the current state of the hobby in America?

  10. 72 Hornet
    72 Hornet says:

    I hear you George! I have to admit that it gets kind of addicting when you are varnishing. I love to see the results and after each coat, it gets more satisfying! On thses last coats, I am trying to wait a week between coats for a better cure and hoepfully a stronger finish. It is alot of work, but is tends to keep me out of the bar!
    On a sad note, my restorer friend found pictures of the 48′ Resorter when it left their shop in the 80’s. Sad ending to a boat that was once a very beautiful runner. More on that later…..
    Allen, I’m still looking for someone to sit on the bow of even one of my boats for a pose….Yah, like that is going to happen!

  11. mattyboy
    mattyboy says:

    well the 20 cigarette was mentioned. I have a good friend who I help restore the first one made a 1972 Cigarette 19. that boat might be of interest to all woody boaters it is sort of a hybrid it has Mahogany accents and dash and a glass hull. I think we all have a passion for these older classic boats either wood or glass.
    Again thanks for the nice write up looking forward to seeing you out on the water

  12. matt
    matt says:

    Alex right now is in hell.. Its warm enough to go boating. And he is trying to decide if its worth it.. 60 here in VA..

  13. jimmuh
    jimmuh says:

    Matt & Texx -Bravo to you guys for expanding the focus of WB to include glass and even tin boat’s. Altho I have been collecting wood boats since 1983, I’ve always appreciated some plastic boats; Donzi’ & Magnums especially. IMO wood boats & glass boats can coexist quite happily in the same venues; by the same token, it’s great to see a classic Delahaye sitting near a deuce highboy; each can be appreciated on its own merits, and it’s instructive to see how designs evolved, just as glass boats evolved from wood boats. Bring it on!

  14. Bartlomiej
    Bartlomiej says:

    I like all these stories BUT there is one I cant find…. Where in the Archives is the story about the lakefront home with the boat house that had a nice Chris Craft in it? The house was sold due to divorce and SHE got to keep the Chris Craft???

    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Bartlomiej – A week ago we received a “Strongly Worded” e-mail from the X-Wife requesting that the story be taken off the air, as it could potentially have a negative impact on the value of the 1940 21′ Hacker Triple “RYE”. The story was removed within minutes of when we received the request via the original author.

      We thought the story added value and significant exposure to the boat, which may help to sell it, but…

  15. Pat Curtin
    Pat Curtin says:

    well well- the first time I read this woody thing in a long time and it is about Donzi! Here is some information for the troops and lets see what they have to say. Roy Farmer was the first general manager of Donzi and I was the second general manager the company ever had after Roy retired.

    Pat Curtin

  16. Alex
    Alex says:

    Dear WoodyBoater community. It’s time you see what grief I get from Mayer when he can’t find his cat to beat. Or something else…

    A little while ago, he sent me this: “Alex, I think you’re in WAY over your head with these Donzi guys. I’m glad I obtained a swift and early victory over the XK. Love, Mike”


    Oh you’re finished [Mike]? Well then allow me to retort.

    For starters, I really don’t think you love me. “But that’s not important right now.” You forget I have lots of time, some money (left), and plenty of insecurity on my side.

    Now go put a brown paper shrink wrap over that aqua-bus you own.

    Donzi yawn-zi,


    • Texx
      Texx says:

      Alex – Mr. Mayer is currently on assignment in Hawaii and we have reason to believe he is drinking large amounts of Kava.

      Current weather in Honolulu – 81 Degrees and Sunny…

      Cut poor Mr. Mayer some slack, don’t you think?

      If there’s a classic Century Arabian in Hawaii, he will find it and report back (we hope)…

      • MikeM
        MikeM says:

        Do you know what happens when you mess with Italians? Be careful here, Mr. Donzi – Yawn-zi.
        Your friend, Mike

        I am on the Big Island interviewing potential “hood ornaments” for the Mighty Arabian. I have been putting in 12 hour days…..the interest is high. I can’t wait for the next photo shoot….now, back to work!

  17. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Got in the last word!! hard to do on this site, and you can sure get beat up if you jump in in the middle!
    Merry Christmas to all!

    John in va.

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