• U.S.

Sport: Elcos, Eurekas, Etc.

2 minute read

To wintry Manhattan last week went many of the millions of motorboat fans, whose summery sport has become in 35 years a $165,000,000 industry. Destination: the 35th annual National Motor Boat Show.

High & dry on three floors of Manhattan’s Grand Central Palace were 115 motorboats, 35 sailboats, skiffs, prize-winning racers, gadgets, motors, motor fuels. Outstanding gadget: The Hazard Tension Meter, a mandolin-style sound box tunable to a pitch pipe, to attach to yacht rigging for determining desired tautness. Based on a complicated device used for years on America’s Cup Defenders, the popular Hazard comes to merer skippers at $25. Outstanding motor yacht: a 57-foot, superluxurious, poly-gadgeted Elco cruiser with clipper bow, flying bridge, streamlined superstructure, berthing a party of six, crew of two. Price: $29,000 up.

Most unusual boat: a Higgins Industries, Inc. $17,000, 42-foot, Eureka model offshore pleasure cruiser. Eureka has a spoonbill bow with wood strips diverging downward to drive a cushion of spray under the hull. The tunnel-stern (fashioned after the belly of a sulphur-bottom whale) houses the screw, which is protected below by an extra heavy skeg, a solid metal, keel-like extension of the hull. Purpose: to enable the boat to crunch through driftwood, bounce over logs, hurdle narrow land spits, climb a beach and land a party dry-shod, wham up on a sloping concrete sea wall (the last for no apparent reason except to prove that Eureka can take it).

Builder is Andrew Jackson Higgins, a 55-year-old Irishman, born in Omaha. An old Mississippi River racer, Higgins went after the record of the legendary river steamer Robert E. Lee for the 1,200-mile upriver run from New Orleans to St. Louis. In 1929 he broke it in his spoon-bow motorboat, And How III. Time: 87 hrs. In 1931, in Greyhound (a modified And How III), he whittled it to 72 hrs. 4 min. Because debris in the Mississippi had slowed his record-making run by twice crumpling his propellers, he added to the spoon bow a whale-belly stern. The Navy, always alert for new designs, helped him experiment, started him off with an order of 13. Result: Eureka (patented 1939).

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