1928 Racing Hydroplane, Uncle Charlie & me

Ever put a 40 Horsepower 1960 Evinrude Lark on a 1928 Hydroplane that was raced with a 22 horsepower outboard?

For two weeks, it was the fastest thing on the Barnegat Bay. That boat and outboard motor combination beat everything!

race outboard power early 1920s #seabuddy

sister ship to the racer I rode on the deck of

My Uncle Charlie would sucker any one into a race against this pre-war racer by holding back as we came side by side. Once the other boat was convinced that our and their boat was wide open, he would simply roll the engine mounted throttle wide open and took off! We had them by a mile every time. Never lost. Our 40 horsepower outboard  11’racer was the terror of N J.

I was a strapping young teen of 13 years of age this summer of boating fun and he was my bachelor uncle that sucked my dad into paying half for his and mine hobby of boating. We had a 15’ wood Sea Mac runabout, but that water ski boat did not even do 30 MPH. We wanted 60 MPH!

My Dad’s other brother had the 1928 racing two point hydroplane that had been taken on trade for a car repair bill.  That boat had been in the family but had not been in the water since before WW II as the no one could get its racing 22 horsepower outboard motor to start.

And, we had the 40 Horsepower shiny Lark two-stroke that ran!

Charlie came up with the idea of putting the running motor on the smaller boat and us going faster.

The Hydroplane was not water ready, it leaked and had dry rot. So Charlie and I slopped some fiberglass resin over the canvas covered racer’s bottom. It was Charlie’s idea was that the canvas weave would be an effective substitute for fiberglass cloth. We used both cloth and resin on the hull sides as there was no canvas there, just peeling paint

Another problem was it was a single person cockpit boat and there were two of us. So, I was assigned to lay out on the foredeck and simply hold on for the thrill ride that Charlie controlled from the cockpit.

The boat was fast, but way overstressed and far too gone for it to last. Each ride resulted in a stick or framing piece crumbling. We just threw them overboard as they came up. My deck was racing thin and so it collapsed. I then rode on the uprights, similar to a bed of nails, with just the padding of a PFD throw cushion in the worst spot. My body had many bruises, which I hid from my Mom.

period correct 1928 race boat and race engine

#seabuddy next to the sister ship 1928 racing boat & motor

Each night, we had to tie up the motor to the pier, to keep its power head above water. We let the rest of the boat sink nightly, and bailed her out when we went for a challenge race. After two weeks, our speedster was too far gone. The steering was always pulling out from the frames, she leaked very badly, and I was so sore from bouncing on the uprights that I just could not take it anymore.

Seabuddy’s photos are of a sister ship, age correct, but it is a smooth-bottom runabout  style, without the boat bottom step that the hydroplane had.

wood classic race boat outboard johnson powered

the cockpit only fits one person, and not #seabuddy as a teen


1928 racing boat with johnson 22 HP outboard motor

#seabuddy saw this sister ship to a teen remenberence


1928 racer with Johnson 22 HP outboard engine

I never got to drive the boat, Uncle Charlie did that, #seabuddy just held on for life

7 Responses to “1928 Racing Hydroplane, Uncle Charlie & me”

  • Lovely little thing!I presume the silver is paint and not some aluminium frame?

  • no metal in the boat.

  • Marc Hetzke:

    Wonderful story. Your Uncle Charlie was a wise man. He was able to keep his nephew out of trouble for two whole weeks and instill the belief of God in him all with a simple boat ride. I know I would be praying during every ride but would definately go back for more fun everytime. Finding the sister ship years later is quite divine. Thank you for sharing your great memory.

  • Malcolm Black:

    Chris, did your 1928 raceboat have a cross step or a box step? In 1999/2000 an organization I started called Mahogany Harbour at Ontario Place had the loan of Little Miss Canada VII which was a box step hydro. Sort of the opposite of a three point hydro. Instead of sponsons on each side of the running surface it had a single step in the middle so it didn’t “dance” like a three point but it was a rough ride! She was originally powered by a Lycoming 6 aircraft engine but by the time I ran her she had a 350 Chevy in her. At the time I had never driven a three point hydro so I didn’t realize how rough it was in comparison!

  • Skeet Combs:

    I built the boat in the pictures C75. I always wondered where it ended up!
    Sold it to a Antique Outboarder at a meet in NJ. It was a reproduction of a 1928 – 30 Flyer by Crandle.

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