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by Rick Terry

Many ACBS boat shows in the ACBS family in North America are “Judged” and as a Judge, I am often asked what it all means.  Is this beauty contest?  How do you judge?  Who judges?

Judging plays a significant role in antique and classic car, motor cycle, aircraft and many other shows.  Judging at all these shows share similar objectives.  The main goal is to recognize the most authentic artifact being judged and reward their owners, maintainers and restorers. 

So no they are not beauty shows.   In fact if something was created ugly, it could only win an award by being exactly as ugly as it was when it was created.

All ACBS organizations use the same judging system.  This system starts by crediting each boat with 100 points.  From here, points are deducted xxx found.  Each xxx is a difference from the way the boat was constructed by the manufacturer and delivered by the dealer.  For example a spot light could have been installed by the manufacturer or the dealer, but points would be deducted if it was a newer light.  Points are deducted in areas such as finish, seams, interior seating and floors, hardware and engines.  Points would also be deducted from boats that have been reconfigured, say from a utility to a runabout.

To allow boats to compete fairly amongst similar boats ACBS the International Judging Committee has defined a number of categories.
•    Historic boats are defined as having been built in 1918 or before
•    Antiques between 1919 and 1942, Classics between 1943 and 1975
•    Contemporaries are 1976 or later. 

From here, boats are then further categorized into type,  including: Launches, Utilities, Runabouts, Race, Sail, Fiberglas and other non-wood etc. 

For each of these categories there is yet another division: restored and preserved.

It would be nice to think our boats would last forever just as they were built, and that each boat would be a testament to their builder’s design and skill.  Some boats have, in fact, been well maintained and represent their builders intent to this day.  To encourage the owners of these boats to maintain them in this condition, the preserved category was created.  Judges are instructed to overlook small repairs and defects that have been developed over the years. 

On the other hand some boats have not been so lucky and may have fallen into disrepair, been in  an accident,  been relegated to the outback or worse.  We are all fortunate when an owner takes on the task of restoring such a boat to its authentic state.  In so doing, he   keeps a piece of boating history alive.  If a boat has more than 60% of its wood replaced, not including the bottom, that boat would be placed in the restored category.  As the wood isn’t original, the boat is judged on how well it replicates the original.

So who are these judges?  Well, without naming names, some are antiques themselves -  and some actually remember when these old boats were current models.  Many are younger and have done incredible research to understand how these boats were designed and built.  At the 2009 ACBS – Toronto show there are 12 judges, each with specialized knowledge of specific types of boats.  They judge in teams of 2.  Each team is assigned a few of the categories described above.  Teams often confer with each other, especially when judging award winning boats.  All judges have to agree on the ‘Best of Show’ awards.   

You could  be a judge.  Each year we welcome interested enthusiasts to join our judging teams.  If you are a member of ACBS and want to know more send us a note at

Rick Terry has been judging antique and classic boats for more than 15 years.  A member of ACBS – Toronto for 25 years, he is a past president of the Society.  Terry has also served on the ACBS International Board of Directors where he chaired the Judging Committee.                



By: Kathy Rhodes
January 23, 2010




Do you own a classic fibreglass boat that you would like to see featured in an upcoming issue of Classicboat magazine?


Along with ACBS-Toronto, Classicboat is about to expand its mandate to increase coverage of early model fibreglass boats. Not only will we include more stories and articles about fibreclassics in our clubs magazine, but this years two-day boat show will have a special section reserved for fibreclassics.


To have your boat featured in an upcoming issue of Classicboat, please email a photo along with the following information:


Owners name(s): Make and model of boat: Year: Length: A short anecdote about the boat this could be how you acquired it, an especially good trip you had in it, or anything that you think would be of interest to our readers.

To be included in an upcoming issue, please send your information to