Home Making Waves Making Waves – February 2024

Making Waves – February 2024

by Randy Woods
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Pedal to the Medal: Seattle Boat Show to Debut ‘Landroplane’ Races

By Randy Woods / Photos by TBD

This month’s Seattle Boat Show (SBS) is a time when experienced boaters get dead serious about preparing their vessels for 2024—but also conversely time to watch full-grown adults pedaling around a track, pretending to be hydroplane racers: welcome to SBS’s inaugural Pedal Boat Cup challenge! And while the race sounds like a fun lark all on its own, the human-powered challenge could also win participants free tickets, pit passes, and a Log Boom tie up to see the real hydroplanes race at the 2024 Seafair this summer.

Sponsored by Auburn-based Ranger Tugs and Cutwater Boats, the new Pedal Boat Cup is the brainchild of Zach Umperovitch, a Rube Goldberg machine expert from the “Contraption Masters” show on the Discovery+ channel. Last year, Umperovitch wowed the SBS crowd with an elaborate (and humorous) boat launch machine that used a series of catapults, strings, levers, and gravitational knowledge to cast off a boat into a wading pool.

This year, Umperovitch’s creativity will be focused on the pedal power of actual SBS attendees themselves. He has taken ordinary pedal/prowler boats and replaced their paddle wheels with tires so they can be ridden around on land; and the boats are painted in the signature SBS primary colors to stand out even more. During the show that runs from February 2-10, these reconditioned, brightly colored “landroplane” boats—with names like Miss Ranger Tugs, Miss Cutwater, and Miss Tug Nuts in fine Seafair hydroplane tradition—will race against each other in time trials on a 200-foot indoor track inside the Lumen Field Event Center.   

All show attendees are welcome to compete in the Pedal Boat Cup races (kids under 12 must be accompanied by an adult). There are no limits on the number of times people can sign up, and participants can sign up on a first-come, first-served basis at the booth. Each day, the racers will compete for a daily prize of two Seafair 2024 tickets for a three-day admission, plus pit passes, to see the hydroplanes compete for the HomeStreet Bank Cup and Gold Cup on August 2-4 (a $130 value). At the end of SBS, there will be a final drawing for the Pedal Cup Grand Prize: A coveted Yellow Section broadside tie on the Seafair Log Boom (a $925 value), providing some of the best views of the hydro races and Blue Angels aerobatics shows on Lake Washington. For specific details on the races, go to: seattleboatshow.com/feature/indoor-hydro-pedal-racing.

The Seattle Boat Show, produced by the Northwest Marine Trade Association, will be held February 2-10 at the Lumen Field Event Center and Bell Harbor Marina. For more registration information about the pedal-pounding action or for other fun SBS events—such as personal boat show tours, Boat Show University courses, the antique and classic boat displays, Tunnel Club Lounge happy hours, the Career Fair (February 5), boat building demos, kids’ Aqua Zone events, and an insider’s look at the new The Boys in the Boat film, please visit: seattleboatshow.com.

Making Waves
Photo Courtesy of Saxdor

[ on the show floor]

Finnish Saxdor Brand Comes to Northwest Via Silver Seas; Will Debut at SBS

As the Seattle Boat Show (SBS) opens this month, a new vessel from Finland—the Saxdor 320 GTC—will make its Northwest debut by way of Seattle’s Silver Seas Yachts. The brand, which until now had only been available on the East Coast and the Gulf Coast of Texas, will give the Puget Sound boaters a closer look at its sleek, Scandinavian style that pairs enclosed cabin comforts with speedy, fuel-efficient runabout performance.

The 320 GTC will have three Mercury engine options in single or twin configurations, ranging from 300 to 600 hp. The sporty design allows the boat to cruise at about 32 knots and reach 50 knots in a sprint.

With an LOA of 32 feet, the 320 GTC features dual fold-out terraces, providing easy access to the cockpit from the sides and stern. Inside the pilothouse is a small galley to port, three helm chairs that can swivel around to face a dining table, and aft bench seating.  Belowdecks is a forward head and cabin for two.

Although the 320 GTC may look like it’s built for power, the model has proven to be family-friendly, with an isolated, floating floor for sound-suppression, says Silver Seas sales manager Billy Gilbert. “For a family getting into overnight boating, there is a dedicated closed-door primary stateroom with a separate enclosed head compartment,” he said. “Meanwhile, the pilothouse seating can optionally convert into a second berth as well, to accommodate sleeping four.”

Saxdor boats also have much to offer for Northwest boaters, who are used to climates known more for rain than sun. “We specifically wanted to bring in the 320 GTC coupe model, as Saxdor has expanded the pilothouse full beam, providing more space for passengers out of the elements,” Gibert said. He added, however, there is still plenty of room in the 320 GTC for summer boaters “to lay out on the sunbed that sits atop the cabin.”

Since 2019, Helsinki-based Saxdor Yachts has become one of the fastest-growing boat companies in Europe, producing more than 1,000 boats in the 20’-40’ range at its factory in Elk, Poland. Saxdor’s founder, Sakari Mattila, also founded the Aquador, Paragon, XO, and Axopar brands, the latter of which can be found exclusively in the Northwest at Jeff Brown Yachts in Seattle. The Finnish company offers Mercury engines on all its boat models, and partners with brands such as Brunswick, Navico, and Simrad.

The 320 GTC is “a very striking vessel that turns heads on the water,” said Gilbert, who will be on hand at the Silver Seas booth during SBS. But expect more to come from Saxdor and Silver Seas. “In the future,” he said, “we look forward to offering the all-new 400 model, which recently premiered in Cannes.” For more details on the brand, go to: silverseayachts.com.

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Photo Courtesy of GHBW

[ building the biz ]

Gig Harbor Boat Works Expands with New Home

As the town of Gig Harbor welcomed the new year, one of its most well-known boat companies, Gig Harbor Boat Works (GHBW), finally found a new place large enough to accommodate its recent rapid growth and keep up with the doubling in demand for its small-craft boats.

The new facility is a much-needed expansion, but it is also a consolidation, allowing the company to bring in its Tacoma-based, fiberglass-hull lamination operation under the same roof and, more importantly, on the same side of Puget Sound. The consolidation will eliminate the need to transport completed fiberglass hulls across the Tacoma Narrows each time to be assembled in its Gig Harbor fabrication shop. Starting this winter, all these operations can be completed within the same 12,500-square-foot building less than half a mile from the company’s original headquarters.

The new centralized production facility will include an insulated, ventilated, and heated lamination shop, an assembly and woodshop area for customization work, loading docks for incoming and outgoing shipments, and administrative offices. GHBW will also have some warehouse space in which it can keep a small inventory of stock boats available for customers who don’t wish for specialized orders.

Founded in 1986 by David Robertson, the Boat Works first operated in a two-room boat shop on Peacock Hill, about a half-mile from the Gig Harbor waterfront. Over the years, the firm has built thousands of lightweight rowboats, tenders, and sailing dinghies, using the back room for assembly and the front room for display models. In recent years, however, the company has gained greater national fame for its work, resulting in dozens of backed-up orders overflowing into both rooms at its old headquarters. In 2023, for the first time in its history, GHBW sold more boats to out-of-state customers than to in-state customers—a testament to how much it has outgrown its humble beginnings.

Today, the company builds 10 different small-craft models, ranging from 8’ to 17’ in length. Although these boats are all made of modern fiberglass material, they are based on traditional wooden working boat designs. Most recently, GHBW has launched a few stand-alone rowing and sailing boats, including the 17′ Salish Voyager, a multi-purpose adventure boat.

The original GHBW Peacock Hill facility, recognized for its red wall exterior and barn-like architecture, will remain as the company’s sales and marketing locations, allowing for more room for customer-focused displays of new boat models. In addition, GHBW has expanded its marketing efforts with the hiring of Laura Hammond as its new marketing manager and Arnie Hammerman of Brand Builder Media, who will handle public relations and media buying for the in-house team.

Once the moves are completed and the new facility is fully operational, Gig Harbor Boat Works said it intends to offer regularly scheduled “factory tours” to showcase its crews in action and to demonstrate the boat-building process. For more details on GHBW, please visit: ghboats.com.

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Photo Courtesy of Jasper Marine

[ new on the roster ]

Oaksmith Adds Jasper Marine, UP Boats to 2024 Client List

In preparation for the new boating season, Seattle sales and brokerage firm Oaksmith Yachts has added two new boat brands to its stable of clients, Jasper Marine and UP Boats, both of which have been catching the interest of Northwest boaters for their toughness and imaginative use of innovative materials.    

The first model in the Jasper line represented by Oaksmith, the Defender 22, is an all-aluminum workhorse built in Gibsons, British Columbia, and well-versed in the needs and climate demands of Northwest boaters and anglers. It’s new, no-frills insulated cabin and 8’6” beam makes the Defender 22 very stable and roomy for its relatively small size, and its quick access to the bow through a central door allows for easy movement during extended trips.

The boat is perfectly suited for fishing trips, as well, with ample storage space, along with comfortable fold-down seating in the cockpit and bench seating on both sides of the bow. Defender also offers customized touches, such as cockpit bait wells, rod holders, bait prep stations, and extra side and transom doors. Twin Mercury 150 hp outboards provide nimble maneuverability in shallow areas. 

For the Florida-based UP Boats, the carbon-fiber foam sandwich materials used often pique the greatest interest. The ultra-lightweight materials used in UP dinghies, tenders, and chase boats, measuring 10’ to 15’ long, are extremely strong and provide excellent planing, even at low speeds. Their minimal weight makes the tenders easy for one person to beach and requires less powerful outboards to achieve peppy speeds.  

The wide, rigid gunwales around everything but the stern make the UP vessels essentially floating benches, with plenty of room underneath for storage—often with twice the volume found in other conventional tenders of their size. For passenger security, there are many built-in hand grips around the edge if the water gets choppy.       

For more details on both brands, visit: oaksmithyachts.com.

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