By John Lawrence member of No Cal. /Lake Tahoe chapter
My interest in owning a 3-point hydroplane began back in the 1950’s, when I attended the boat races at Lake Me,tjtt in Oakland, California. The thrill of these boats running around the two buoy course was enough to excite the young and old. The sounds of engines running full throttle, the thrill of the hydroplane rooster tail streaming from the back of these almost flying machines was exciting, to say the least. The thrill of watching these boats was also punctuated by an occasional accident, in which boat and driver separated in an unbelievable noise and disruption of water, as these boats either tried to fly or caught a wave the wrong way on the turn. By the mid to late 1960’s these Vintage boats, along with the other classes of boats began to disappear from the West Coast. The liability of these wood race boats became their demise.
My objective was to find and then restore a Vintage hydroplane, as close as possible, to its original condition. My actual journey started 7 years ago. My search kept finding dead ends. Boats were either too rotten to restore or in countries where shipping the boat would be cost prohibitive. And then, this boat fell into my lap in 2004. I found the E247 boat in my backyard-Lake Tahoe. The boat was owned by Marshall Mathews who passed away from Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2003. Marshall owned this boat simply to run in Lake Tahoe for fun. And fun he had .. His last ride was New Years Eve day 2002 at Tahoe. Unable to get himself in the boat, he had some buddies lift him in the boat, in the afternoon. With a full tank of gas he headed from South Shore to the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. The story goes he ran out of gas late in the afternoon, was found by the Coast Guard and towed to his home in the dark, much to the worry of his wife Nancy.
I have tried to piece together the history of this boat by getting on the telephone and
networking until past owners were found. The enjoyable part of my search was that each one of the previous owners was a delight to talk to, about their boat All the old owners were excited to find out their old boat was still “Alive”. The ownership of the boat have been traced Interesting however, those that raced this boat had a hard time recollecting the races won. This boat was raced hard in the early to mid 70’s and again in the early 80’s.
The E247was never a top winner, but did stay competitive