Mid 1920's Hacker
Triple Cockpit Speed Boat
"I first became aware of a very interesting 1920's gentleman's racer during a conversation with David Grainger, a club member and operator of the Guild of Antique & Classic Cars. It sounds like David and partner Janice can't get enough of antique machinery. The Guild in Bradford is packed with interesting and often historically significant cars and engines. (They should charge admission, but they don't.) Then, in their spare time, they restore boat or in this case, they bought one, a really interesting one. One I was dying to have a close look at.
Gentleman's Racers seem to be very attractive to our club members. There's always a wonderful display of them at our summer boat show. A few of our more enterprising members have built their own reproductions and several of the top shops genuine articles are treasured, to be sure.
The designer who seems to have had the greatest influence on this type of design is John L. Hacker, and the boat has very much the look of a Hacker design. It's called Disturber IV, and the gentleman who owned her for many years was one of America's wealthiest sons.
Robert Ludington, founder of Ludington Airlines, commissioned Disturber IV. His Vice President was Amelia Earhart. Aviation was in its infancy and things were booming. Ludington presumably moved on, and a young man who had been born into one of America's wealthiest families bought the boat. They were from California and the family owned the R.E. Hazzard Construction Company. According to his daughter, who is still alive, this boat remained in her father's possession for many years.
Among their many family business interests was aviation. The Hazzards were known to have transported the Spirit of St. Louis for Charles Lindberg, and it is said that young Hazzard raced Disturber IV with his friend Lindberg. We're not sure the boat won any significant races, but it was certainly one gentleman's favourite entertainment.
In the late 1920s, the young Hazzard was to go down in history and into the common vocabulary of millions of people. Scrambling in the turmoil of the crash of '29, young Hap Hazzard is said to have decimated one of America's greatest family fortunes and doing things in a "haphazard" fashion entered into the lexicon of the twentieth century.
Somehow though, he hung onto Disturber IV using it regularly in the Pacific off the Santa Barbara coast. His daughter Lucille Hazzard, now well into her 70's remembers "aquaplaning" behind the boat as a girl. She says Lindberg did too.
This photo (above black and white) shows Hap Hazzard himself in the boat, back when it had the original Scripps 110 hp engine and a port side steering wheel. The boat was later fitted with a Gray Marine Phantom straight 8, which is still in the boat. This engine dumps into a copper exhaust the size of a sewer pipe that would cook the left leg of the driver, so the steering wheel had to be re-positioned to the centreline. A cozy back rest can accommodate two, and the forward cockpit can manage two more passengers. Weight forward isn't always good, and Lucille remembers a stormy day in the Pacific with passengers forward and the water coming over the decks, but the boat survived that and all the years until today.
This delightfully original Gentleman's Racer sounds great and runs like a dream although David says the thirst for fuel limits the cruising range severely! It accelerates like a jet and once up and running, is precise in steering and obviously a blast to drive.
Just imagine the fun David and Janice have on a windy day tearing across Lake Simcoe in a haphazard fashion."
Article written by Andy Adams - Classic Boat Magazine 2002 Fall Issue