Politics And Judging, There Is No Place For It In Classic Boating.

Warning, we are about to go all Hedda Hopper here. So, while Irma was ripping apart most of Florida, up in Racine, there was a bit of a storm going on in the judging dept of the event. Now, hold on, and this is all third party, but even if not completely accurate, brings up a touchy subject. Judging based on politics not just the boat. No names or boats will be used here. 

And this is not a sourer grapes thing either, in fact its just kinda strange. Possibly. And no reflection on the ACBS or the local chapter that put on the event, which has been hailed as a major win and a tough show to follow up in Port Huron next year.

next years big event!

Okay, that’s all out of the way, now for the topic at hand. Personality/politics judging. Well, as we understand, there was a winner of a boat that was announced that was not even in the show, registered, or even at the show. The owner is said to be embarrassed as well. Show organziners upset,  Top that off with a Platinum winning boat that was never really judged on paper according to some, and never announced. A slight to the owner? By the way, that just SUCKS, a trophy is fine, but being announced and called out amongst your pears is just as important. It’s your moment.

Now, this is not just at this event, we have seen this personally play out in Skaneateles NY, and on Lake Hopacong. Boats are winning because the owner is due, or the award is more about the person than the boat. There is an on going debate if its OK for a restorer who owns there boats to win? Is that fare? Bitter feelings and people frustrated. If its about the boat, fine, but emotion?

Yes judging is a topic that garners debate and feels petty, but the fact is, it is there for many who want feedback and strive for perfection and like competition. And is good for the culture because it pushes the envelope and can be fun. But if it becomes personal, it becomes cloudy and confusing. Why bother killing it on a boat if the boat looses to a boat not as good, but an owner that’s not won by the boat, but with a relationship with the judges. And by the way there are awards for those people. hell, that’s all I ever win. Not that this little story is going to help my chances… Ugh.. Which brings up another point and was also an issue at Racine. Too many awards, like a little league Soccer team. Way to many awards. Or was it? If there are a bazillion boats that all score 99.5 (how is that possible?) Okay, lets say that was the quality of boats, Okay, then you go back in and judge again. That did not happen at Racine, but does happen on lake Tahoe, which is by many considered the top judging event in the world for classic boats. So why not the ACBS International?


So there ya have it, all gossip, and hair dresser blabber, but in between all the crap is a point. If you are going to have a Judged event for classic boats, judge by the rules and be factual, the owners should only be judged by there horrible outfits! Hedda Hopper, good day!

Oh don’t you look grand in those! Here is an award!

And happy header day, dont know what header day is? Just refresh the page or click on the Woody Boater logo and one of over 3000 headers will pop up.

40 replies
  1. Rick
    Rick says:

    There was one event I was at that had made up awards for its members but a visiting boat that definitely deserved recognition wasn’t even mentioned. To be clear I’m not talking about me. I knowingly went with an imperfect boat just to participate and have fun with no expectation of an award. The show itself was fantastic but the judging was a farce.

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    You can’t have judging without bias and politics. These boats were not equal when they left the factory, we don’t have full or even equal amounts of hard knowledge about every kind of boats factory original condition, and even if we collectively did, how could any group of judges be experts on all of it? Even then, you can only go so far with numbers and spreadsheets. Objective and subjective decisions have to be made by human judges.

    Throw in human nature and subconscious and you will always end up with politics and relationships involved. Accept it, or stop having judged shows.

    BUT, how does a boat not in the contest win? And if that happens, how is ACBS not 100% responsible for it? It is their show, their judges, and their rules.

  3. Displeased
    Displeased says:

    A boat that wasn’t even in the show won!!?? I was told I couldn’t be judged because I was too late registering. People that registered after me told me they were being judged. Wow, some show….

  4. Mark
    Mark says:

    The fish rots from the head. If the people running the show are not leveling the playing field then judging won’t be fair.

    I can tell you that I had a bitter experience last year but I was given the opportunity to express my frustration and it was heard and corrected this year which was very satisfying.

    I give our local club chapter officers a lot credit for that. Not everyone listens and does something about it.

  5. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    I brought a ringer and they would not let it be judged. Figured it was about not wanting to remove my shoes to count the points. Didn’t go to the awards but seen a huge table of trophies.

  6. Matt
    Matt says:

    Here is a rough list of the winners/ Non Verified!


    Bruce Renquist 1905 16 Pierce Judy Platinum


    John Seaman 1895 16 Cole Long Lake Platinum


    Kevin Metz 1937 40 Sonja Gold


    John Zea 1929 26 Kramer/Hacker Antoinette V Platinum


    Dave Bortner 1940 18 Chris Craft Lucky Gold


    Paul Mason 1939 18.5 Century Relic Silver

    Legacy of the Lakes Museum 1937 24 Gar Wood Vail Silver


    Fred Bartizal 1928 24 Chris Craft Silver

    Rick Roy 1939 19 Chris Craft Brown Eyed Girl Silver

    Jack Beatley 1929 30 Hackercraft Puttin On The Ritz Platinum


    David Buckley 1935 16 Gar Wood Miss Chief Silver

    Dave Bortner 1940 23 Chris Craft Black Dog Silver

    David Dehorn 1941 17 Chris Craft Rumor Gold

    Kirk Smith 1942 17 Century Pipe Dream Gold

    Larry Prebis 1942 17 Century Double Barrel Gold

    William Parfet 1932 33 Gar Wood Garfield Platinum

    Dan Nelson 1932 28 Gar Wood Rosemary Platinum


    Andreas Rhude 1952 11.5 Thompson Silver


    Jane Larson 1959 17 Cruisers, Inc. Buster Gold

    Ronald Campana 1960 18 Chetek Why Not Gold

    Perry Edwards 1963 16 T & T Old School Platinum

    John Janssen 1957 15 Delta Delta Dawn Platinum


    David Doyle 1963 16 Switzer Craft Gold

    Terry Dickson 1959 17 Glasspar Mamma Mia Platinum


    Richard Moist 1955 15 Chris Craft Chickadee Silver

    Doug Lindeman 1958 22 Chris Craft Fleetwood Silver

    Don Taylor 1970 23 Streblow Mr. T III Silver

    Gary Rechcygl 1956 26 Chris Craft Double Trouble Silver

    Eric Moberg 1958 19 Streblow Rebel w/o a Cause Silver

    Jim Denning 1954 22 Chris Craft Miss Hallie Gold

    John Vanderwerp 1957 18 Macbay Dutch Treat Gold

    Scott Mason 1961 22 Shepherd Rhubarb Gold


    Dave Wrzesinski 1962 18 Beuhler Gold

    Jerry Schock 1965 18 Chris Craft Navy Brat Gold

    Don Taylor 1963 19.5 Streblow The Rebel Gold

    Jeffrey Peterson 1969 28 Riva Portofino Gold

    Doug Lindeman 1971 23 Allmand Kimberley Platinum

    Ian Sandercock 1963 15 Century Platinum

    Rich Lepping 1959 19 Chris Craft Belle Platinum

    Jim Wolfe 1959 21 Century Selah Platinum


    Jay Novick 1955 21 Chris Craft Charmed Cobra Silver

    Mike Teusink 1966 22 Riva Moon Shadow Gold

    Eddie Rennpferd 1960 16 Douglas Marine Precious Gold


    Grant Frautschi 1947 19 Chris Craft Lipstick Silver

    Lars Bergerson 1953 27 Shepherd Fallon Silver

    Scott Martin 1927 30 Hutchinson Surprise Silver

    Louis Fisher 1957 18 Century Perfect Pitch Gold

    Rob Lyons 1950 19 Chris Craft Miss ABC Gold


    Scott Bruesewitz 1955 26 Perma Craft Chloe Silver

    Richard Deboer 1954 28 Chris Craft Baby Grand Platinum

    Jeff Oppenheimer 1948 26 Higgins The Andrew J Platinum


    Ted Cartner 1951 27 Chris Craft Chrysalis Gold


    Gary Huge 2000 26 Streblow Mare El III Silver

    Roberta Hegy 2015 19 Home Built The Glen L Silver

    Mike Teusink 2015 19 Wooden Runabout Co. Chris Craft Platinum

    Matt Byrne 2016 19 Chris Craft Platinum

    Dean Wilson 2015 18 Glen L Bonnie Dean Platinum


    Gary Huge 2000 26 Streblow Mare El III


    Jim Wolfe 1959 21 Century Selah


    The winner of the CCABC Stewardship award was Joe and Tammy Zelinski from Oshkosh Wisconsin for there 1951 29′ Constellation “Victory Rose”.


    Jeff Oppenheimer 1948 26 Higgins The Andrew J




    John Zea 1929 26 Kramer/Hacker Antoinette V


    Kevin Metz 1937 40 Sonja


    Terry Dickson 1959 17 Glasspar Mamma Mia


    John Zea 1929 26 Kramer/Hacker Antoinette V


    Jeff Oppenheimer 1948 26 Higgins The Andrew J

  7. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Earlier this year the current Board of Directors of The Chris-Craft Antique Boat Club decided to change our award from “Best Chris-Craft” to a “Stewardship Award”.

    We feel this gives the show organizers, or our club leadership, more flexibility in rewarding someone who shows years of love to a Chris-Craft that may otherwise go unnoticed.

    At Racine we recognized Joe and Tammy Zelinski of Oshkosh Wisconsin for their 1951 29′ Chris-Craft Constellation “Victory Rose”. This craft was bought in 1961 by Joe’s grandparents and has gone through the stewardship of his parents and now them. She has been renamed after Joe and Tammy’s two daughters (the 4th generation).

    We at the CCABC feel this kind of Stewardship and Love for a boat truly reflects our mission statement.

    • Larry
      Larry says:

      Excellent change in awards and excellent choice of recipient. These qualities are what we should be recognizing, not how much money someone might spend hiring a restorer to do their boat.

    • Tommyholm
      Tommyholm says:

      The Century Boat Club award provided to the annual ACBS big show as an “award” to be presented to an appropriate recipient , not the “best Century”.

  8. Jack Schneiberg
    Jack Schneiberg says:

    This displeases! I was one of the judges at the Racine Show. I was impressed with how Brian Gagnon (Chief Judge) organized both the crew of judges and the boat owners. We were instructed that the major function of judging a boat was to give the boat owner a means that would guide him/her to a 100 point boat. It was to be instructional. It was to be fun. Here was one of rubs: 3 boats we judged had no owners present to ask questions of. To me a big part of judging the boats was being able to ask the owner questions about the boat’s history, provenance, etc. Let’s face it NOBODY knows every single boat and how it came equipped from the factory. This is especially true as more outboards and fiberglass boats become a part of the fold. One other problem we encountered was having obviously “preserved” boats classified as “restored” . That is a data processing problem…or, an owner classifying problem, or…………………. At any rate we attempted to correct any data problems on the boats we judged by sitting with Brian and reviewing our sheets as we turned them in. One of our boats was classified as a utility – when in fact it was a totally reconfigured hull made into a gentleman’s race boat. All the boat owners we did talk with were eager to share their knowledge of their boats, the work they had done, and the reasons they chose to be judged. I think Jim Staib should have received an award for best boat laying on its side.

  9. Matt
    Matt says:

    HAHA! yes why not give best boat on a side! Thanks for the insight Jack, as you know we have done a ton of stories on the challenges of judging a boat. Its like judging art, where there are so many subjective calls. The conversation is here, to start a diologe about maybe figuring out a way to reduce the amount of emotion in it. But maybe its impossble when anything involves being judged. I would assume that everyone is trying to do the right thing. Like no one tries to restore a boat poorly.

  10. Johnny V.
    Johnny V. says:

    As someone who did a bunch of judging in the ’90’s and early 2000’s (Wine Country, Clayton, Niagara, Skaneateles, Harveys Lake) I understand the politics of it-especially at shows like Clayton,Tahoe, and the ACBS International shows. I give credit to Brian Gagnon for accepting the responsibility of taking on the Chief Judge role.
    ACBS needs to continue to educate the owners of judges boats as to classifications (utility,runabaout, post and pre war) as well as the definitions of preserved versus restored. If there are cutoff deadlines for judging they need to be adhered to-it’s a pain for the chief judge to add boats at the last minute after the score sheets are prepared and the judges assigned to each category.
    If there is a tie, ya gotta go back out and look at ’em again!

  11. steve mccready
    steve mccready says:

    Boat shows are for the public viewing and not for worrying about how many coats of varnish are on the boat. When the boat came out of the factory it never looked like they do today. Boats were mass produced back in the day and they all had 3 – 5 coats of varnish on them. Them there were others that were customer pacific with different options on and some added items per the customer.

  12. Tommyholm
    Tommyholm says:

    That Century boat named “pipe dream” was not at the show (per conversation with owner) and yet it is on the award list. And they must have changed the rule about powering to the dock as Miss ABC was a trailer queen . The ACBS is what it is.

  13. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Charlie in ME says:

    “Skip the awards, use the money you spend on them to help someone who needs help getting their boat on the water, and GO FOR A BOAT RIDE!”

  14. Cottagesnorth
    Cottagesnorth says:

    My personal deal these days? NO TRAILER QUEENS!!!
    I took the step fifteen years ago and gave it all up for my boats and cars. Trophies are for those with CASH and lots of it. The bigger the piggybank, the bigger the trophy.
    That’s not to say my toys are not all properly cared for. They are. It’s just that I get a bigger kick out of hearing a dual overhead cam Jaguar engine with three carbs at full war cry at 6000 rpms than sitting in my lawn chair under an umbrella at some show with the hood up, having people explain all that’s wrong and incorrect with my car or boat. And of course, they’ve never owned one themselves but are experts because Mr. Speltz said so in his book.
    My advice? Get out and play with your boat or car! Give rides and have fun! Forget about a nick, scratch or chip, that’s what a brush for touch up is for. If we don’t find a way to get the younger crowd involved and let them listen to a large straight six burble at the dock through a large copper pipe……….well then, all is lost in our hobby because we’re all getting closer to dead than age 21.
    To hell with judging.

  15. Matt
    Matt says:

    I do think there is a need for judged shows. Hell, if there were two boats left on the planet, those guys would want to know which one is best. And lets face it, we are the judges and judges are a reflection of all of our standards. The rules are in place. Its all in writing, my point here is when judging goes rouge is when issues happen and guess what. The integrety of judging is lost. Its not an art form, it is subjective in some cases, and thats why we hold judges to such a high standard. There are many good ones, but lets face it, we all want to get along and we are blessed with a great community that feels the same. But if we stick to the rules we can all agree.

    • Dave
      Dave says:

      Is their any distinction made between entries from professional restorers and entries from those who are amateurs/hobbiests?

  16. Randy Rush Captain Grumpy
    Randy Rush Captain Grumpy says:

    Attached is a good photo of me towing the first place boat to the Meredith ACBS show 2007, I dragged that boat 4 miles to the show, got him to the docks, never even said thank you and he won best in show . His boat did not run and it was towed away from the show. I complained along with some others and was told to shut up because there was only so many docks for boats in the future shows and i wouldnt be welcolme.

    • Johnny V.
      Johnny V. says:

      Somebody (s) wasn’t paying attention. It’s supposed to arrive at the dock under it’s own power. We’ve all got stories like this……………….

      • Joe
        Joe says:

        Absolutely right if judging is done according ACBS rules
        However that rule is normally ignored for trailer queens

  17. Tommyholm
    Tommyholm says:

    The list of winners as posted by Matt @ woodyboater is not the same as posted by the ACBS. I apolize to KIrk Smith / Pipe Dream for claiming he won without showing.

    • Matt
      Matt says:

      Hi Tommy, the list was a non verified list. The ACBS has controlled all the news from Racine, no reports were sent, nor by anyone that promised to send in reports. We did not use names for that reason.

  18. thomas d
    thomas d says:

    when I use to go to bike shows my ’47 knuckle won rat bike with out trying and I’m sure if ABCS ever has a rat boat category my ’47 deluxe wood win that too.

  19. Miles kapper
    Miles kapper says:

    In general judging is going to become more and more difficult assuming more classic glass owners latch onto the ACBS. Despite the politics of judging there are probably more than a couple of folks out there, judges or not, who can tell you more about your barrel back or Cobra or Hacker or Century than you could possibly find in a book, and there is a great value in that. I just don’t see the equivalent in expertise on glass boats coming out of the shadows to be able to share their knowledge like their “wood” brothers and sisters. Ultimately this will just put more pressure on the judging process.

    • Troy in ANE
      Troy in ANE says:

      I think there is a LOT of knowledge out there on the glass boats, but those people are not yet members of the ACBS.

      Most do not even know that they are welcome yet. I get asked constantly if the CCABC welcomes members with glass, steel, and aluminum construction. My response is a quick “Not only are you welcome, but we embrace anyone with an interest in boats to join.”

    • Dave Nau
      Dave Nau says:

      Things will get more interesting as more classic fiberglass, aluminum and outboard boats are entered. And that’s OK. judging should be fun for all, and smaller outboard boats will help to make it that way.

      Giving rides will become even more important over time, to help grow the hobby.

      Above all, keep it light and just enjoy! I’m heading to Port Huron today and hope to have a great time.

  20. Nick Arnone
    Nick Arnone says:

    I DO NOT do my boats and cars for judging. I do my boats and cars for me.
    Judging is subjective. That’s it. End of story.
    I have seen hard feelings and even fights over judging. I believe the association places too much value on judging. I like the Sunnyland Chapters method. No judging, we are there for fun. The sponsors walk the dock and pick the boats they like the best.
    I all reality, there is only one award I hold most dear: the people’s choice award.
    Here is a news flash:
    If you go to a distant show with a perfect boat, and a local has a boat very close but not as good as yours and you think you are getting the award, your nuts.
    At the Racine, a friend had his boat judged and they asked about the Coast Guard label on his new throw/seat cushions. He asked me about it and I said sure you could sew them on, but don’t get caught. I do not know the penalty, but I am sure it’s costly. I still don’t understand what that was about.

    • Miles Kapper
      Miles Kapper says:

      I didn’t know that about the Sunnyland chapter not judging. The only award given out at a Thompson boat rally (which includes Cruisers Inc. and T&T Boats – all Thompson family related) is who trailered their boat the furthest! In general outboards were not shipped from the factory outfitted a specific way so there is all kinds of room for interpretation as far as what is original.

    • DougP in the PNW
      DougP in the PNW says:

      People’s Choice award would work if a certain restorer and his family wouldn’t stuff the ballot box

  21. Bo
    Bo says:

    Somehow everyone thinks that the highest pointing boat must be the best! An antique boat with all new wood is fine for using and can get all of the points- but from a perspective of an experienced collector may have limited appeal. So maybe ACBS scores it very high- that does not make it more desirable in my world. Equate it to paintings, Imagine the Mona Lisa with a new frame, canvas and all new paint- priceless! ACBS is getting better at recognizing the real thing but has a way to go. If you dont like the judging you can avoid it or change it. To change it you have to get involved!

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