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Jersey Speed Skiffs

The boats exist; we need to show them

Fast Turn

If one were to pick the most authentic Navesink River craft it would probably be the Jersey Speed Skiff.

Jersey speed skiffs are 16 foot V8 powered fireballs totally unsuited to go as fast as they go, and that makes them one of the big draws at major boat racing events. Just to make them even more unreasonable, these boats are raced by two people, there are four jobs on the boat. Each person has two jobs; One drives and scares the other person in the boat half to death. The other person basically just hangs on for dear life, and if they dare to open their eyes, they watch the gauges.

Jersey speed skiffs are a distant development of the Sea Bright skiff insofar that they originated in the Navesink and Shrewsbury River area and were built by people who were very familiar with constructing Sea Bright skiffs, but the latter were working craft and the Jersey speed skiffs were always built as racing boats. Up until the 1980's the speed skiff was raced mostly on the Jersey shore and especially on the Navesink River off Red Bank, but the last speed skiff race on the Navesink took place in the mid nineties, at which time the economies of arranging power boat racing events exceeded the local resources.

However, contrary to most of the other vessels in this section of the NMHA website, there are still plenty of Jersey Speed Skiffs in the Navesink and Shrewsbury River area, and many of the early skiffs are under restoration or have been restored by local enthusiasts. As a class of racing boats, the speed skiffs are still very popular and there might be as many as 100 speed skiffs that still show up at racing events all across the US and Canada.

Still there is a really good reason to have the speed skiff listed in the replica area of the website and that is while it looks like there is no reason to recreate the speed skiff, it sure would be fun if the speed skiffs could be made to race on the Navesink again.

As a whole, NMHA tends to support low impact use of the Navesink. Ten or more unmuffled souped up V8's running full bore can hardly be called low impact, and it can be fairly assumed that nobody would like to have that much noise on the river all the time. But how about once a year at a time when nobody will care about the noise and crowds?

In Red Bank that time is generally on July 3 on fire works day. Why not have a additional event while the crowds are moving in? How about a few speed skiff races just before the sun sets? It would be a great salute and a lot of fun for the crowd.

NMHA is trying to build public support for such an event. For further information on speed skiffs and organizing races contact NMHA.

In the mean time, in 2008 and 2009, NMHA's rendezvous took place in Long Branch at the Long Branch Ice Boat & Yacht Club to allow the rendezvous to take place concurrently with the Thunder on the River, which is the Monmouth county speed skiff rendezvous.

 Lasting Impression

Rob Garretano's excellent all wooden JS 70 “Lasting Impressions” (above and below).


Copyright © Navesink Maritime Heritage Association

Navesink Maritime Heritage Association is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to engaging Eastern Monmouth County with maritime and water related historical, skill building, environmental, and recreational activities, and encouraging responsible use of the Navesink estuary through its Discover, Engage, and Sustain approach

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