O N B O A R D
O N B O A R D
30 O N B O A R D NO PROPS NECESSARY Buehler Turbocraft, a 1960s iconic boat brand, is back in the news. It was one of the first American boating companies to turn to inboard engines and jets to propel its fiberglass boats and the first to collaborate with Hamilton Jet of New Zealand. The early boats owed their looks to one of America’s leading automobile designers of the time, Virgil Exner (above, center). The Indiana-based company was very good at marketing. In ads that appeared throughout the U.S., it touted its abilities as the builder of the only boat to make it up and down the Colorado River rapids (a story that even appeared in National Geographic in 1962). The Buehler Colorado River expedition launched a veritable craze for jet propulsion around North American lakes and rivers. The brand’s association with famous names added a patina of glamour to the sheer practicality of shallow-draft boats. A 19-foot Buehler Turbocraft had a cameo role in the 1965 James Bond flick “Thunderball” as the boat of 007’s love interest Domino. The Secret Service used a 35-foot jet boat to keep up with the First Family on the water. Nevertheless after a decade of success, Buehler Turbocraft floundered and virtually disappeared, except for the odd classics in the hands of die-hard enthusiasts. But if John Clapot, a former brand manager for Ralph Lauren in Switzerland, has his way, Buehler Turbocraft will soon be back in favor among connoisseurs. Clapot first noticed Buehler Turbocraft in “Thunderball.” “I thought, ‘That’s a really nice boat,’ ” he says. As he uncovered facts, he became such a fan of the 1960s icon that he tracked down the brand’s owners and bought the name three years ago. Wellconnected to a number of experienced yacht designers, he has embarked on the now full-time adventure of funding and then building the first modern-day Turbocraft as a powerful retro-modern tender to a superyacht or a luxurious dayboat. The first project, which he’s dubbed the Thunderclap 38 (pictured), is fully engineered for cold-molded construction. “It has a central cabinet for the bar, grill and fridge, a retractable screen, large sunbed and a large swim platform with a step ladder for access to the water, plus a beautifully designed cabin with a queen berth and a small dayhead with shower. Everything has been conceived around the idea of ‘the best day on the water,’ ” Clapot says. Depending on selected power options, the boat will have a cruising speed of around 32 knots and top speed in the low 40s. www.buehler-turbocraft.com S h o w B o a t s I n t e r n a t i o n a l | J u n e 2 0 1 5
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section and counter stern is devoted to a large sunbed and swim platform. In homage to the fold-down swim ladder of Domino’s 19ft Turbocraft in Thunderball, the ThunderclapMore information
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