Design Challenge IV Call for Entries

DesignChallengeIVLedeAWhitman Family Museum

A 17’ (5.2m) runabout from Challenger Marine in 1948.

For pure fun, speed, and versatility on the water, it’s hard to beat the family runabout. Whether for fishing, picnicking, waterskiing, or just whizzing around on a sunny summer’s day, it’s without doubt one of the world’s favorite recreational boats. That popularity dates to the years between the two world wars, when builders like Gar Wood and Chris Smith revolutionized small-boat construction. The efficiencies they achieved helped make boat ownership attainable, so that even during the Depression, small runabouts were a segment of growth in an ailing boating industry.

The booming postwar economy and the fiberglass revolution of the 1950s accelerated changes in design and efficient construction. Companies like Glastron, Lone Star, Century, and Sea Ray became household names by delivering affordable run­abouts—many quoting auto­motive styling

of the day. Iconic designs such as the Donzi 16 (4.9m) and Glasspar G3 (13′7″/4.2m) turned heads for their seemingly perfect, simple lines. As the phen­omenon spread beyond the North American market, myriad variations on the runabout type drove one of the greatest expansions in recreational boat ownership ever.

For this year’s Design Challenge we ask designers to re-imagine the Great American Runabout by applying 21st-century styling, materials, production techniques, and market demands.


  • A fun, multi-purpose day boat that could be put into
  • series production within the next five years, and be expected to command broad market appeal and sales success
  • 16’–26’ (4.9m–7.9m)
  • Minimum seating capacity of four persons
  • Composite construction

Submissions must be the designer’s original, previously unpublished, work and must include:

  • A narrative description of the design concept (Word document or PDF)
  • Lines, profiles, sections, accurate weight study, and performance; and fuel-consumption and construction-cost calculations (JPEG or PDF)
  • Engineering and production plans describing materials and processes.
DesignChallengeIV/DesignChallengeIV03Brad Verd

A Donzi runabout at speed.

Judging of this competition will include a “readers’ favorite” category requiring that design narratives, lines, sections, and weight and performance calculations be posted on the Professional BoatBuilder Web site. Entrants should designate any specifics of the submitted plan they do not want revealed in a public forum.

We will award $1,000 to the first-place design and $500 to second-place and people’s-choice winners.
Entries must be received by November 1, 2012.

For more details email

Design Challenge IV • Professional BoatBuilder magazine • P.O. Box 78, Brooklin, ME 04616 USA.

To learn about the first Design Challenge, click here.

To learn more about the Design Challenge II winners, click here.

To learn more about the Design Challenge III winners, click here.