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Old 09-26-2002, 06:44 PM
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Just a little explanation here....................

In my post on Great moments in Cat history, I touched on the Switzer Wing.......If memory serves it was actually titled the Switzer Craft Hydro Cat.

The boat was designed in 1958 by Bob and Dave Switzer and manufactured in their plant in Crystal Lake, Illinois. The earliest versions were crafted of wood and featured plexiglass canopies over the cockpit. The original was tested...in secret..at Lake X and was immediately licensed exclusively by Carl Kiekhaefer.

The first version tested with Mark 78A motors (75 hp..Stock Lower units) and was faster than anything else ever run with those motors.

Later versions including the most famous , Miamian Dave Craig's "Miss Skyway", ran with the Merc 800( 1960-61..80 hp) and 1000 (1962-65....100hp....first all black motors) and exceeded .......an unheard of ....100 mph........ with the newly designed Speedmaster lower units. Mercury dealer, Dave Craig consistently won the Gold Coast Marathon (Miami- West Palm and back on the intracoastal)...beating everything from inboard hydros, to outboard cats, vees and flat bottom inboard SK's and marathon hulls.

Remember in the late 50's and early 60's........60 mph was considered high end racing speed and 100 put you in a category with no more than 30 people on the planet.....more importantly "twin hundreds" (2 merc 1000's) pushed most race hulls (cats included) 60-70 mph

The "Wing" was a VERY special piece.....and WAAAAAAY ahead of its time. The boat featured a four point (Two stepped sponsons) design with a true air foil wing section and aileron over the tunnel. Cranking the aileron down at 80 or so "Popped" the tail and the boat actually flew............like nothing before..........nor since. This feat never received the attention it deserved due to three conditions:

1. The Switzer brothers natural midwest humility and lack of self promotion.

2. The "black ops" status that the "Old Man" clamped on all of the original hulls.

3. The hype created and advertising spent on far less unique designer builders like Aronow, Art Carlson, Jones, Power Cat, Hammond/Glastron, Bertram, Glaspar, etc..........

Finally, before the design could really be appreciated it was eclipsed on the race course by the European Tunnel hulls, which while not as fast in the straightaways, had the distinct advantage of being the best turning racing vehicles in the world (a fact which remains true to this day)......... sadly the Wings couldn't turn worth a damn and went sliding off to Virginia every time you turned the wheel in earnest..... This was no problem on the long straight marathon courses like the Hudson River Marathon and the Gold Coast, but created real headaches in circle racing and the newer boomerang shaped marathon courses like Havasu and the Orange Bowl Regatta. The final nail was driven into the wing coffin when the factory teams dropped multi engine hulls in favor of the single engine tunnels still in vogue today...............


The funny thing was even if you had the equipment to beat them , once you saw or raced against a Wing you inevitably wanted to own and drive one some day.............

I saw my first Wing in a Popular Mechanics or Popular Science article in 1959.................. and never forgot it.

I raced against them from 1964 through 1968 and stood and stared at them every chance I got..........

The stepped technology, ram wing principles, and overall design have only now been recognized in Peter Hledin's latest Skater designs.........

I have giggled while newbies "discovered" and or "invented" steps.............. added "Tunnel Tabs"......... and changed attack angles, deck lift and compression in order to gain more airborne characteristics............................. 30 years after the original showed the way.

My search for a Wing has spanned two decades.There were 5 wooden versions and 44 fibreglass units built in 18 and 20 foot lengths...................... most of them have been destroyed....the odds of finding one have narrowed by the year.


Long live the Switzer Wing.......................The Stradivarius of race boats.

T2x
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Old 09-26-2002, 06:51 PM
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T2x
Once again nicely done!
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Old 09-26-2002, 07:06 PM
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The Fiberglassics website had a link to Jeff Bowman's Cathouse which had the complete Switzer history and interviews with Bob Switzer. Unfortunately the link no long works,but it was a wealth of knowledge with letters from Carl Kiekhaefer ,boat orders, etc. Too Old,you found this boat ,can you find the old link? T2x,I know the wings could not turn but Kenny Kitson did not believe that,so he turned them anyway.Watching him and his Wing at the Lake Havasu World Championship races in the late 60's/early 70's was a site to behold. T2x,if you try his methods at home I hope I'm not on the outside of you!Glad you started this thread,it brings back lots of good memories. MagicFloat
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Old 09-26-2002, 08:00 PM
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I have to admit id never seen or heard of this boat ..Born too late i guess.. But man that thing is AWESOME if not a little scary looking.. Lets see this project
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Old 09-26-2002, 08:35 PM
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Around 83/84 the new owners built a nice 18' metalflake vee and a big 21'GL-21 vee,one of the few boats that could carry Merc's new ill fated 300hp 3.4 liter outboard. We bought a solid yellow one with the 3.4,after many warranty problems Merc took the motor back and replaced it with a 2.4 liter 225hp plus a cash refund. That boat is still around,saw it in a barn a couple years ago for sale,I passed on it . Before the wing the Switzer brothers built a 16' Shooting Star,a kind of a flat bottom with a slight concave running surface. With a 125 Merc it would run 80 mph,no power trim and 2 blade prop. In 1968 no single engine outboard could touch ours in a straight line but at some point you had to turn and we could not turn in a 10 acre field.Those were good days,the roots of high performance boating.
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Old 09-26-2002, 10:57 PM
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Yes,that's Kenny. Crazy guy,great racer with no fear. Started a boat dealership in Georgia after his racing days.Got into a little financil trouble and most of his boats and Kenny himself just disappeared overnight. Always wondered where he ended up.
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Old 09-26-2002, 11:25 PM
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Too Old
Were you able to get the Year Kenny won the World Outboard Championships?

Damm nice photo ,These guys were light years ahead !
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Old 09-27-2002, 12:49 AM
  #38
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Kenny Kitson won the OB World's in 1967.....year after that it was Billy Sirois and the Twin engine Molinari...."Up , Up and Away".Year before ('66)Mike Reagan (Ronald's oldest Son) won it in a Rayson Craft....I think Jim Merten took it in 1969 with another twin Moli.....after that, it was time for the single engine boats and the "Age of Seebold" was born........

The era of the Wings was basically done by 1969.

One other side note......... a California hydro builder, De Silva, attempted to make wooden wing style boats in the late 60's for OMC expressly for the Havasu style races. These boats were light and very sleek....and deadly. As I recall two out of three of them disintegrated and at least one fatality occurred as a result.

This is not a design you fool with lightly....... The Switzers got it right....early...... the imitators ....missed the mark.

Final thoughts....... I believe the Wing was the first "Pickle fork" design as well........... Man! that's a lot of innovation in one boat.

The Switzers also made a line of "Shooting Stars" radical flat bottoms and vees. They shared a sort of square bow design, but the earlier wooden flat bottoms were among the most beautiful boats ever made. They featured a concave forward arch
that stretched gently to the outer rounded pads. This shallow "cave" tapered to zero at the bailing well.

The result....typical Switzer....... 96 mph with a single 100 hp Merc......... but...... don't turn it....without bringing it in for a landing first.

I could go on forever.

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Old 09-27-2002, 05:51 AM
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Its very interesting to me to read and see pictures of these type boats that I never new even existed....keep em coming....I like it!.....Fred
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Old 09-27-2002, 07:44 AM
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Years ago I saw a switzer 17' vhull it had curved back. Is this they same Switzer it was a very narrow boat I thought it was cool but not what I needed at the time.
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