Vintage Hydroplane Lawn Show

By: John Kunz

Volume 16, Issue 9, September 2021

On July 31, 2021, The Chippewa Bay Maritime Museum teamed up with the Chippewa Yacht Club, The Fishers Landing Racing Club, Antique Boat America, and the Antique Boat Museum, to stage a lawn show of vintage and classic race boats. The show took place on the lawn of the Chippewa Bay Maritime Museum and ran from 10 am to 4 pm. Visitors were able to view a wide variety of fascinating racers.

The exhibitors were on hand to talk with visitors about hydroplanes and racing. Kids were allowed to sit in some of them and get a feel for what it would be like to race one of these very unusual boats. The boat pictured above is capable of going over 100 mph! When driving this boat, you lie completely on your stomach. The steering wheel and throttle are right in front of you.

The modern hydroplane is made of carbon fiber. The motor often weighs more than the boat itself. Future racers climbed in and out of this boat all day. One owner told us that when he raced this boat, he had to add 40 pounds of extra weight to meet the required weight. In American Power Boat Association Racing (APBA racing), the boats must meet a set weight before they may compete.

This was a family friendly event. Exhibitors and guests were treated to pizza and a variety of beverages on the spacious deck of the museum. In addition to the lawn show, patrons had access to the Chippewa Bay Maritime Museum. This is one of the true cultural gems of the Thousand Islands. A trip through the museum is like stepping back in time, to life on the river 100 years ago. There are racks of immaculately restored vintage race motors. Photographs from the early 1900s abound. There are vintage sailing skiffs, carved decoys, and much more.

This Aristocraft from the 1950s looks brand new.[Photo courtesy Chippewa Bay Maritime Museum]

And of course, there were vintage race boats. This Aristocraft from the 1950s looks brand new. You even can see your reflection in the flawless varnish.

Click here for video:

One of the show stoppers was the hydroplane GP 200. This racer still holds a world record. After some fine tuning, the owner fired up this monster. This was most likely the loudest sound ever heard in Chippewa Bay! The boat travels on a special trailer that tilts this very beamy craft on its side, for highway travel.

Hydroplane GP 200 

The 2021 show was appreciated by those attending and already plans are underway for the 2022 show.

Chippewa Bay Maritime Museum, Call 413-281-6272 for information, even a private tour.

By John Kunz

John Kunz and his wife, Kelly, are summer residents of Chippewa  Bay. They winter in Watertown, NY. Along with their three sons, they  enjoy the River on a four-season basis - Sailing, Rock Climbing and  Skijoring. In February 2016, John took us Skijoring in the Thousand Islands, and then for several years, John and Kelly have covered the excitement of the Thousand Islands Cup races, as well as several other important family stories. Be sure to see them all here.

Posted in: Volume 16, Issue 9, September 2021, Sports

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