by Rick Terry

Antique and Classic Boat judges are often asked by boat owners what they can do to improve their boat’s score at the boat show.  Usually the question is asked a day or a week ahead of the show.  While there are a few things that you can do in a short time frame which I will mention later, the time to ask the question is when you are thinking about buying the boat.

Serious Trophy Hunters know that a high scoring boat will be subjected to questions of provenance and authenticity.  They research the boats chain of ownership and restoration history.  They talk to previous owners and collect old photos of the boat from which the configuration and hardware placement can be confirmed.  If the information is available, they get the manufacturer’s specification sheets, sales literature, and drawings.  The “Hull Card” will show what engine was original in the boat as well as optional equipment and colours.

Within a team of Judges, there will be a good understanding of a Boat Builder’s standard offerings.  However,  Boat Builders also built custom boats, or customized their product for a good customer.  This is where documentation can be very valuable in establishing the originality of customizations.    

If a boat requires restoration the true Trophy Hunter works with the restorer to make sure that any decisions that have to be made favour authenticity over “improvements”. 
For example it may cost less to use alternative construction materials or methods, or to replace instruments rather than have them restored but these will attract point deductions when judged.  Modern cable or hydraulic steering, newer controls, more modern engines are all appealing but will attract deductions.  Similarly upholstery and flooring should be the same as the original.   Safety items, however, such as bilge pumps and fire extinguishers will not attract deductions, but be careful to choose appropriate switches and place them appropriately.

“OK” says that boat owner, “I didn’t do all that, but what can I do between now and the show to pick up a few points?”  If you have some time, focus on the areas that attract the most common deductions.  In Pre-WW II boats judges are on the lookout for cushions reupholstered using foam stuffing instead of the Kapok originally used. Modern plastic insulated wiring and colourful crimp connectors in pre-1950’s boats should be replaced with the original cloth covered wiring and black solder connectors.  Plastic or mismatched knobs on switches and choke pulls should be corrected.  Check that the engine has appropriate hose clamps.  Check that the deck hardware and stern light are correct for the boat.  These are the picky details that separate the winning boats from their lower scoring sister ships.    

Before show day there are 3 important must do’s.  First, de-clutter.  Leave what’s mandatory in the boat like Life Jackets, paddles, anchor etc., but remove as much of your personal belongings as you can.  Judge’s are very uncomfortable moving food, clothing, valuable cameras etc. to get a view behind the dash board or a look at the engine.  Second, clean the boat and polish the chrome.  Clean the engine up, paint over rusty spots, clean up oil leaks or spills and deal with stray wires.  Third, check that everything is there and works. All the hardware should be on the boat.  If there is a holder for the flag pole, there should also be a flag pole and there should be flag.  If there is a light, it should work.  If there are switches in the dash, they should be connected to something.  If there are fittings for a top, the top should be on the boat.  If there is wiring hanging down secure it in the same manner as the original.  These three things will do more to improve the score of a “user” boat than almost anything else. 

Please bring your boat to the ACBS Boat Show July 9.  Judges are always happy to talk about boats with their owners.  We all learn from the process.