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The man who changed the world of sport fishing boats.

James Claude Smith was born in 1906 in Cherry Log, Georgia. He quit school after the sixth grade and took a job cutting wood to provide for his family. Smith's varied interest led him to barnstorming biplanes, moonshining, motorcycle racing, and to outboard race boats when "fast on the water" was 20 mph.

Smith spent 20 years building and racing his own hydroplanes, and was able to turn his racing success into a string of businesses including the largest Johnson Outboard and Chris Craft dealership in the South.

When Smith retired to Florida in 1949, he spent most of his days deep sea fishing. Chasing fish, Smith became aware of the sportfishing boats built by the Rybovich and Merritt brothers. 
Smith liked everything he saw in these boats and decided to build one for himself - only faster. 

The world of sportfishing boats was about to change forever.


Smith's first boat, the 35-foot Boca Jima was built in 1959. It demonstrated Smith's knowledge of airplane construction, hydroplanes, and a passion for innovation and going fast. The Boca Jima was the first cold-molded hull that made use of double-diagonal cedar combined with epoxy resin. 

Smith had guts - he read about the new epoxy resins in 'Popular Mechanics,' figured they were perfect for boatbuilding and gave them a try.
The Boca Jima was strong, lightweight, and capable of 44 knots at a time when others managed to reach 25 knots.
This feat led to a succession of legendary builds, and shaping of the modern sport fishing boats we know today.
Boca Jima
The Boat Builders of Stuart

"They are all part of the family tree that began with Jim Smith's first performance sportfisherman 5O-years ago."

by Jan Vogt

On the Edge Magazine, 2009



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