THE DECADE OF TOMORROW.
Step Hulls and HydroplanesThe giants of this period were Christopher Columbus Smith (Chris Craft), John L. Hacker (HackerCraft), and Gar Wood, and there were many others. Chris Smith had been building boats since 1881, but really ramped up his business when he teamed up with racing driver Gar Wood. Gar Wood won the APBA Gold Cup five years straight, 1917-21, with 4 different hulls, and also won the Harmsworth prize in 1920 and 21.
Parallel to Smith and Wood, naval architect John L. Hacker started his boat business in 1907, and in 1911, designed, built, and installed the first floats for the first 'seaplane' for the Wright brothers. In the same year, he designed and built a powerboat that would hold the outright world speed record for the next 4 years, which of course he named Kitty Hawk. The Kitty Hawk was a progression of Hacker's V-hull design thinking which incorporated, for the first time, the stepped hydroplane hull, which enabled boats to plane over the water rather than through it. Later, the collaboration of Chris Smith and Gar Wood would produce another significant single step hydroplane, the Miss Detroit III, winner of the APBA Gold Cup in 1918 and 1919.
Ole Evinrude's Outboard Motor
Ole patented his creation in 1911, the first commercially successful outboard motor, still in production today. 'Commercially successful' meant that it would usually start at least half of the time. Ole had been in the motor manufacturing business for some time when the idea struck him that a portable motor on his rowboat would be a whole lot easier than rowing. By 1919, he had taken in a 50% partner (Chris Meyer, an A scow sailor from Pewaukee), sold out to Meyer, then re-launched his business with the ELTO (Evinrude Light Twin Outboard). Evinrude, ELTO, Johnson, and Lockwood/Ash would eventually be rolled up by Stephen Briggs ('Briggs and Stratton') into Outboard Marine Corporation ('OMC').
Postcards from the past
From left to right: aquaplaning, the newest craze; motor launches on a placid lake; a cat-rigged sailboat demonstrating typical feminine nautical attire from the period; a crowd of spectators at a boat race. Some of the Detroit river races drewv audiences estimated between 400,000 and 1 million.
Average Salary: $1075/Yr
New House: $3,200
New Car: $850
Quart of Milk: 9¢
Gold per ounce: $20.67