Jimmy Stewart and the JS class in Boat Racing

Jimmy is the National High Points Champion in his APBA racing class. Over a season of racing, Jimmie won 3,363 points for his various race finishes. (The fella behind Jim’s achievement won 2,555 points.)

This is a very competitive racing class: 19 racers won points in this class one year. These racers come from MD, PA, NJ, FL, MI, NC, & VA. As you can see, this Jersey Speed Skiff class is well represented around the Chesapeake Bay and beyond.

Here’s a brief history about the Jersey Speed Skiffs (JS):

Along the Jersey shore in the 1800’s, fishermen either launched their human-powered (row) boats from the beach or an inlet to fish in the ocean and neighboring bays Then a sail rig was added and the popular way to go fishing in New Jersey remained a small boat. Think of a flat bottomed, cedar-wood planked boat using ribs to help define and stiffen the boat shape. Some cousins or early examples of a JSS boat were the Sea Bright Skiff, the Pound Boat, and Utility Skiffs.

In 1922, Harold “Pappy” Seaman built a 16’ boat with a Gray Marine Engine inboard engine. That started the powerboat JSS class idea. His boat went  21 MPH.

Fiberglass replaced wood in the 1960s. Bud Bender is the man known for fiberglass Jersey Speed Skiffs. Seabuddy met Bud at a past St. Michaels Antique & Classic Boat Show and Festival in Maryland. Today a skiff can break 80 MPH or more and they use a Chevy V-8 for power.

BTW, many of these early boats fished during the week and raced each other on Sunday. Pappy was from Long Branch where he built some 102 skiffs. The center of the sport seems to have stayed there in Long Branch, although there are boat races up and down the East Coast all summer long in both Vintage and APBA racing.
Jersey Speed Skiffs (APBA racing class JS) is a very active racing class within the American Power Boat Association, and race at sanctioned APBA events primarily up and down the East Coast. These racing skiffs run under very strict APBA rules that have not changed much since the early 1990s. Roll cages and safety harnesses are required, engines are restricted to 283 or 305 cubic inches with very strict specs, and the hulls remain at 16 feet with very strict specs.

Some hull shape design changes, more powerful engines and “tricks” enabled the skiffs to increase their speeds into the 30 mph range in the 1930s.

 

Post World War II, a few skiff races made it to the west coast. But, Red Bank was their home base. Speeds were up in the 50 MPH range, by now. In 1948, JS became an official APBA race boat class.

 

Fiberglass hulls made inside a mold came along in the 1960s. Roll cages were added, a little later, too.

 

Today speeds are over 80 MPH on the straight-a-way.

sister ship

sister ship

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