ACBS Boat Classifications

  • Historic: Any boat built up to and including 1918.
  • Antique: Any boat built between 1919 and 1942, inclusive.
  • Classic: Any boat built between 1943 and 1975, inclusive.
  • Late Classic: Any boat built after 1975 through the year 25 years prior to the current year.
  • Contemporary: Any wooden boat built within the last 25 years.

ACBS Judging Classes

While the judging of classic boats is not the primary function of ACBS and its chapters, boat judging does create an incentive to restore and maintain classic boats to a high level of quality. This promotes pride of ownership and a concern for authenticity, which is then recognized through the presentation of awards.

Boats classified as Historic up through Late Classic will be judged separately as Preserved,  Restored, or Resto-Mod Boats, described below.

Listed below are classes currently established for the ACBS Judging System, with a brief description applicable to each class.  The local boat show committee may find it appropriate to combine or separate classes for practical reasons based on actual show entries.


  • RUNABOUT–A boat designed with one (1) or more closed cockpit(s) and the engine(s) under a deck.
  • LAUNCH–A general purpose open cockpit boat, usually of round bilge design, non-planing hull form.
  • UTILITY–A general purpose open cockpit boat, normally with the engine mounted under an engine box.
  • RACER–An inboard or outboard powered boat of planing or semi-planing hull form, designed and used primarily for racing competition.
  • OUTBOARD BOAT–A boat powered by an outboard motor.
  • DISPRO–A boat designed for and equipped with a “disappearing propeller” propulsion system.
  • CRUISER A power–as opposed to sailing—vessel having all of the following features:  a fully-enclosed cabin containing a minimum of 2 full-sized berths, a head in an enclosed stand-up compartment, and a galley which includes running water, an icebox or refrigerator, and cooking facilities.  Note:  Normally, but not always, inboard powered.
  • COMMUTER–An inboard powered boat designed for speed; primarily built to transport its owner and guests to and from home, to work, with minimal overnight accommodations, if any, and should have an enclosed cabin.
  • YACHT TENDER–A boat used for carrying supplies and/or passengers to and from a larger vessel.
  • STEAM/NAPHTHA–A boat with either a steam or naphtha propulsion system.
  • SAIL BOAT w/ AUX–A sailing vessel with a permanently mounted auxiliary propulsion engine.
  • WORKBOAT–A vessel whose primary design and function is commercial operations.\
  • SAIL w/o AUX–A non-canoe vessel designed for and propelled by sails (note:  may have provision for temporary aux. Power).
  • SAILING CANOE-DECKED–A canoe designed primarily for sail propulsion and fully decked fore and aft. Normally used for racing.
  • SAILING CANOE-OPEN–A canoe designed primarily for sail propulsion with no or minimal decking.  Normally used for cruising.
  • PADDLING CANOE–A canoe designed primarily for paddle propulsion.
  • ADIRONDACK GUIDEBOAT– An open paddling or rowing boat designed to be carried (portaged), with lightweight hull form and design which evolved in the Adirondack region.
  • ROWING SKIFF–A nominally double-ended rowing boat whose design evolved from the canoe.
  • SAILING SKIFF–A nominally double ended sailboat whose design evolved from the canoe.
  • SCULL–A lightweight, special design rowing craft with sliding seats and having very long and narrow hull with minimal freeboard.  A scull can also be a dingy type boat propelled by a single sculling oar.
  • ROWBOAT–TENDER, DINGY, SHARPIE, PRAM, DORY, ETC.–A general class encompassing all craft nominally propelled by oars and not elsewhere classified.


The basic standard of the ACBS judging System is to judge a boat in its present condition against what it was like when it was originally delivered by the manufacturer or builder (except Contemporary boats).  Properly preserved and maintained originality is encouraged and will be rewarded.  Points will not be deducted for high quality repairs to original wood.    Restorations requiring major wood replacement are encouraged only when the original material is beyond repair.

Evaluated by this standard, three factors may be considered:

  1. Authenticity: Components which came on the original craft as well as exact reproduction hardware and engine parts along with well maintained original wood is the highest standard.
  2. Workmanship: A quality level that is equal to original.
  3. Maintenance: A completely original vessel may score 100% for authenticity and workmanship; however, there will be points deducted for poor maintenance as described in the judging sheets.


Preserved and Restored Boats

ACBS defines preserved boats as those containing at least 60% of their original deck and topsides material and is constructed using the same methods and materials as the original.  Bottom replacement is expected in order for the boat to be serviceable but the method of replacement must duplicate the original.  The use of plywood as the inner bottom when not used by the original builder will cause the boat to be classified as restored.  The choice of bedding compound or sealant between the plies of the bottom is immaterial; any suitable material is acceptable in preserved and restored boats—bedding compound and canvas, “5200”, epoxy or anything the restorer and owner select.  Similarly, the use of plywood underlayment in decks or topsides will also result in the classification of the boat as restored.    Boats with less than 60% of their original deck and topsides material or restored using non-traditional methods or materials are defined as restored.  It is strongly recommended that there be a Best of Show award for both the best of the preserved and restored boats.  It is further recommended that awards for the best of the preserved and restored boats be given in as many categories as practical.

For a boat to be considered restored, its owner must, at the request of the judges, provide photographic evidence of the existence of the original identifiable boat and of the various stages of the restoration demonstrating that the original boat was always together as a single entity, sufficiently to be clearly recognizable. At no point should two boats exist – i.e. a pattern boat and the new boat even if the pattern boat is subsequently destroyed.  Building a new boat using some wood from an old one will not qualify as a restoration.  Such a boat will be classified as a contemporary.  The amount of original wood in a restored boat is not determinative.  For example, the USS Constitution has essentially none of its original wood but we believe no one would consider it a replica.  It is Old Ironsides.

Resto-Mod Boats

The entry must be a restoration, modification and/or customization of a vessel 25 years and older, that doesn’t fit well into other judging classes.  ACBS defines a Resto-Mod as any Historic, Antique, Classic, or Late Classic Boat that has been restored and modified with non-original parts and technology. Judging is subjective and based on the following criteria: Fit and Finish, Function, Quality, Craftsmanship and Creativity. At the International Show, only one award is given in the class, Best of Show Resto-Mod. At Chapter events it is at Chapters’ discretion.

Resto-Mod Judging guidelines:

  • Judging the Resto-Mod class is subjective and should be done in teams consisting of a minimum of 2 or 3 judges. A judge should have had experience in boat restorations, boat maintenance and/or ownership of vintage boats 25 years and older. A “celebrity judge” can be on the judging team.
  • Special consideration to judging this class should be given to: Fit and Finish, Function, Quality, Craftsmanship and Creativity. The vessel has to come to dock under its own power for judging.
  • Scoring is done in no less than ½ point deductions.

Resto-Mod Examples of (not limited to) judging points:

  • Fit and Finish: Is the windshield well fitted to the hardware and curvature of the deck? Is the deck hardware and accessories nicely laid out? What is the quality of the finish and/or refinish work? Is the hardware plated or finished properly? Proper marine finishes? Overall appearance of the finish or brightwork.
  • Function: If the steering wheel has a throttle lever and horn button, is the lever and horn operational? Are all gauges and switches operational?
  • Quality: Is the engine properly detailed? Is the wiring neat and properly done? What is the quality of the components used in the modification? Custom made or modern off-the-shelf hardware?
  • Craftsmanship: Is there 3M5200 squeeze out? Are there runs in the epoxy, varnish, or paint?  Wood selection? Upholstery?
  • Creativity: Model or type of vessel used for the restoration and modification. Choice of engine or propulsion system. Uniqueness of the modifications. Design and layout. Choice of colors and materials.

Download the New (June 2023) Resto-Mod Description and Judging Sheet here: Resto-Mod Judging Information Packet