Chip Hanauer on the Flipside of Boating

It’s safe to say that Chip Hanauer is one of THE names in unlimited hydroplane racing, which my father called the most dangerous sport on Earth. Bear in mind my dad once owned a Bumblebee Bass boat capable of 110 mph, so what would he know? Chip is an inductee of the International Motorsports Racing Hall of Fame, he has won the APBA Gold Cup 11 times, and he drove the Miss Budweiser in the 1990’s, for goodness sake! In fact, his accolades as a boat pilot are too many to mention. Why would a man who spent his career at the ragged edge of boat performance choose a Devlin Candlefish 16 as a recreational boat?

One could imagine that a man who spent his life on the water, testing the boundaries, would eventually decide that the water itself was enough of an answer, and when it comes to a purist vision of getting out on the waters of the Puget Sound, the Candlefish 16 ‘Stanley’ is a good answer.

I’ve got about 15 hours on Stanley and I absolutely love it!

The Candlefish 16 can carry a heavy load in comfort and stability. In the case of Chip’s boat, she is a simple tiller driven skiff design that carries Chip, his friends, and everyone’s gear in relative performance and safety, all of which is built into a design which takes in to account the safety off all, including the gear. Sam Devlin doesn’t design a boat without considering all the use cases of the design. In the Candlefish 16, as well as most of the rest of Sam’s design catalog, it safe to think of the boat as a platform that can be built in a number of ways, with a vast number of final details. Here’s an example from Chip:

We ran into another Candlefish 16 on Lake Washington. It was a kids sailing school on the east side and it was used as the, committee, safety boat. The young guy waved us over and excitedly asked, “Is that a Devlin Candlefish?” He said he loved theirs as well, but that was envious of our 60 HP engine. Theirs had a center steering station. I’m glad I have just the tiller, as I’m really enjoying the spaciousness and openness of the boat. It makes it very flexible as far as where to put things and where people like to hang out.

One of those details on Stanley is the vertical bar, perfectly positioned for Chip to operate the motor while standing. Here’s what he has to say about it:

The, “stripper bars” are so useful! They are positioned perfectly for stepping up into the boat from the fender step on the trailer. Great for stepping down, into the boat from the dock. Both of us just found ourselves with a hand on it all the time at the tiller. It’s super sweet when you are standing up while operating the boat. I only got about three hours on it today, but I’m telling you, I’m already very much in love with it.

Apparently Chip didn’t completely abandon performance when he stepped down from turbine powered racing boats.

As far as speed goes, faster is right! I’d guess over 40! A friend has a gps app. that should let us know for sure. I can’t leave the throttle open until I get the motor more broken in. But bottom line it’s fast! You were certainly right about going with the 60HP, engine as opposed to something smaller. I had two people in the boat, totaling about 325lbs total and having the horsepower was really nice.

Chip’s own video of his break-in hours on ‘Stanley’ gives a sense of what he is saying.

A lot of thought, discussion, and consideration go into every Devlin-built boat. The result is an elegant balance in a rugged, lifelong boat. You can fish from it, you can hunt from it, and you can simply escape to your yacht or a weekend getaway in a package that melds classic, proven design with the need to ‘just get out there’. A Candlefish 16 will just handle the work you need to do, without fuss, in a smooth-riding platform that allows you to go where you want to go, do what you want to do, and come up smiling at the end of the trip. For a boat company, a smiling Chip Hanauer is a great reward.

But then, Chip says it best.

Sam, in a word, ‘Stanley’ is perfect!” I know there is no boat which is actually perfect, but for my intended use, ‘Stanley’ couldn’t be better! It rides solid and smooth. Both of us could stand at the rail on one side and the boat barely heeled over at all. That’s great for crabbing out of a small boat. It quiet and has a solid sound and feel to it. I couldn’t open the engine up beyond half way, as it’s still in break in mode. But half throttle was plenty and perfect for fast cruising.

Chip’s site is currently down for maintenance, but his Facebook feed is chock full of goodies.

You can find more Chip Hanauer videos on the Youtube Channel.

You can read more about the Candlefish 16 on this page, which links to plans, kits, and Sam’s notes on the design.

 

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