History of the Inboard Cab-overs
    Technically, a 1912 Gold Cup boat named Ankle Deep, was one of the first rear engine cab-over race boats. The idea continued, and in the early thirties, there were a number of very fast rear-engined step-hulled cab-overs. The best known examples were Miss England and Bluebird, both of which reached speeds above 100 mph. 

     In 1949, the Gold Cup hydros Skip-A-Long and Etta became the first so-called "pickle-fork" cab-over three-point hydroplanes. The pickle fork design featured the tips of the twin sponsons being the most forward point of the boat. Skip-A-Long was a shallow (approx. 18 inch sponson extension) pickle-fork, while Etta was a very deep pickle-fork (approximately four 1/2 foot extension). 

    The evolution of automobile engine cab-over hydroplanes began in the early 1950's. Owners and builders of front engine hydros tried this concept by moving the motor back a little and installing the seat in front of the motor. While some of these efforts did win a few races, the main change that the drivers experienced was a much smoother ride in their new forward position, although no appreciable performance gains were noted.

    The first cab-over, that was built as a pure cab-over, which enjoyed complete success was the 48 cubic inch hull named Piranha. It was designed and built by Doctor Henry Eastman. This hydro set a record in 1962 and won the Nationals in 1963. Besides having the driver up front, this hull's transom was much wider than other hydros in the same class. 

    This thin hull, with its wide transom hull concept, caught on across the nation. By 1964, hydro builder Ron Jones began building round-nosed cab-over hulls as his main product. The first of his cab-over hydros that achieved success was a 225 cu in hydro Tiger Too, which set a competition record in 1964. In 1966, one of his 145 cubic inch hulls won the Nationals. In 1967, two of his hulls won National Championships in the 225 and 7 Litre classes. The handwriting was on the wall, and the cab-overs were here to stay.

    By 1975, the cab-over design was winning most races in the inboard hydro classes. The classes still exempt from this design domination were the Y, N, H, and the Grand Prix hydros. During the early 70's, almost all commercial and homemade hydro hulls were built as cab-overs. By 1977, two of the three primary hull builders, Ron Jones and Jon Staudacher, were building numerous successful cab-over hulls that were winning in all classes except one. Only in the Grand Prix class were races being won by Henry Lauterbach's conventional hulls, which continued until 1989.



One of the cab-overs seen in the late 1950's, early 1960's, was this 1956 conventional 225 cubic inch Lauterbach hull with the driver moved up in front of the motor.



This experimental cab-over built in 1959 by Dick Sooy. With its very narrow transom, it was one of the first hydros purposely built with the motor in the rear.



The first successful hydros with the cab-over design were the classic Eastman Hulls. The first one won the Nationals in 1963, while this one "Caribe" was the National Champion in 1969.


The round nose hull started the cab-over revolution in the larger classes in 1964, and one of them won the Nationals in 1966.



The snub-nosed Ron Jones cab-over was the right combination for the late 1960's.



The shallow picklefork design also made its appearance in the late 1960's.



The picklefork got a little deeper in the early 1970's.



By the mid-1970's the picklefork got very deep.



During the 1980's the deep picklefork was aided with a canard between the sponsons.



The 1990's ushered in the ultra deep pickleforks along with the safety cockpit.


©2001 Phil Kunz