If you love boats that go fast — and you know you do — you’re going to love our February cover story on New Jersey’s garvey boat racers. Field editor Kirk Moore’s story, which begins on page 18, gives us the low down on how the classic southern New Jersey bayman’s snub-nosed wooden workboats, whose roots stretch back to the 1700s, have been transformed into fiberglass racing rockets.
The garvey boats were the workhorses of commercial clammers in the 1930s. Clammers would sometimes race each other back to the docks — mostly for fun, but they might also get a higher early price. Word is the garvey boat races grew out of waterfront community events. Baymen used to deliver clams featured at 1950s summer cookouts organized as fundraisers by the volunteer fire company that were held at New Jersey’s Barnegat Township dock.
The baymen, who delivered the clams in their work garveys, would gather together at the cookouts; eventually they decided it would be fun to have a race. Fast-forward to today, when races are organized through the Jersey Outlaws and East Coast Boat Racing Club.
The fiberglass speed garveys commonly feature 315 or 350 engine blocks that racers tweak. In the most modified class, these boats can hit 90 mph.
But don’t just take my word for it. Check out this Jersey Outlaws video from the Parkertown, N.J., race on July 14, 2013. It’ll give you and your internal organs a good idea of what it’s like to ride in one of these bad boys.
The cool thing is that the garvey boat racers are also helping people as they charge across the water. One of their causes is raising money to help children with autism.
The 2013 season was shortened because most racing spots were recovering from Hurricane Sandy damage. Yet racers still raised $9,000 for the Frog Pond school’s autism program in Little Egg Harbor Township. That makes all these racers big winners.