March / April 2023

In the Wake of a Classic

A 30′ runabout inspired by George Crouch designs of the 1920s

The newly launched TYPHOON combines elements of several George Crouch–designed speedboats of the 1920s. The author completed the boat in the autumn of 2022 in The Netherlands. Full sea trials await the spring; he believes the boat will be capable of 50 mph with her repurposed BMW V-12 engine. An advanced mechanic and machinist, he built the cold-molded hull and installed all of the boat’s equipment himself.

In 2007, I finished building a Barrelback 19 to a Glen-L Boat Designs plan reminiscent of classic Chris-Craft runabouts. The boat, WANDERER III, turned out well—Glen-L even used a photo of it in their advertising—and I felt that the experience had prepared me for an even more ambitious challenge. Just as I was considering what that project might be, a friend gave me a copy of Classic Speedboats: 1915 to 1939 by Gerald Guitat (Bay View Books, 1997), which included a photograph of a boat called TYPHOON.

Mark Mason of New Hampshire built TYPHOON (see WB No. 112) as a 34′ reproduction of a 40′  boat of the same name built as a high-speed commuter for Edsel Ford in 1924 at Henry B. Nevins Shipyard of City Island, New York. The design was by George Crouch (1878–1959). Mason, who earlier had built a replica of BABY BOOTLEGGER (see WB No. 60), acquired the original plans for TYPHOON, and his reconstruction, though smaller than her predecessor, captured the essence of the original boat. Instead of having a sharp deck edge at the sheerline, Crouch’s powerboats had decks that were rounded over, barrelback style, to the topsides for the entire length of the hull. The boat also has a torpedo stern aft of a transom that forms a step in the hull’s bottom, giving the boat a long, elegant style.

I had to have one of these boats. I feel that if you are going to build a difficult boat, you have to make sure that you are so taken by the styling that you can never give up. I was obsessed with this project from the beginning, and I am still obsessed. 

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