Chris craft commander club
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The Chris-Craft Commander Club’s popularity astounds us, even more so after speaking with Dick Morland, the club’s Chief Commander and one of its founding members. The enthusiasm of club members is palpable, and it extends well beyond the boats themselves. We agreed to let Morland tell the tale…
D.M. : This community began with only a few 38-foot Commander owners who met via various registries online. A mailing list was created, and word of the group quickly spread across the internet. Soon after, owners of 31-foot Commanders requested to participate, and the group grew to include all Commanders from 19 to 60 feet. The registry expanded so rapidly that it was incorporated into a club in late 1999.
One of the original founders decided to communicate through E-Groups, which was basically an email list exchange, in early 2000. It became much easier to connect and introduce community members as a result of this. E-Groups was later acquired by Yahoo Groups, and we remained with Yahoo Groups until early 2013, when we moved to a social networking platform called “Ning.”
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Regarding Fred Hudson. Fred started his career in 1954 with the Packard Motor Car Company, then went on to Chrysler, where he was a member of the team that designed the blazingly quick 300 series. Hudson made history in the boatbuilding industry, in addition to his Detroit credentials. From 1960 to 1964, he worked as Chief Stylist for Chris-Craft, where he designed the 1964 38′ Express Fiberglass Commander. The Chris-Craft Commander is a fictional character created by Chris-Craft. Chris Craft Boat Corporation debuted the 38′ Express, the first fiberglass cruiser, at the New York Boat Show in 1964, in the midst of much secrecy. From the drawing boards of Fred Hudson and “Mac” MacKerer, the boat was hailed as a design marvel.
Commander Chris-Craft 42′ The motor yacht is 42 feet long and has two cabins. Built as an open boat (way ahead of its time) with many of the facilities of her bigger sister, the 47.’ Many owners have used various methods to enclose the cockpit and back deck, and a hard top was available as an alternative. Some dubbed the hard top the “skull cracker” because it matched the low windshield line and wasn’t high enough to move under. She had a stunning hull and a complicated step up and back aft cabin configuration with mid-century style aluminum window posts, giving the aft cabin interior miles of wraparound windows. Dick Avery came up with the innovative concept of an elevated back deck over the standard toe rail. On the bow, there was also a wide lounge seat molded into the front of the cabin.
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My personal website, http://www.chriscraftcommander.com, is called “The Forum.” For several years, it has had a friendly relationship with the Chris Craft Antique Boat Club because of a willingness to share knowledge and have fun with classic boats while being respectful of each entity’s purpose and presence. Because of a friendly relationship forged many years ago, “The Forum” has acted as an overt recruitment tool for the Chris Craft Antique Boat Club, and we have posted a direct connection to the Boat Buzz on our web site masthead, along with a recommendation to join the CCABC (for many years).
Despite the fact that we are mainly based on the Commander series of cruisers and yachts, we consider the 23′ Lancer as a similar cousin to the 23′ Commander because the two boats have the same exact wetted hull and overall form, were designed by the same two guys (Jim Wynne did the 24-degree deep-v hull design and Dick Avery did the topsides for the Lancer and Commander variants), and they use the same hull design. During some production years, they were installed side by side in Cortland, NY, under the same roof. The only difference between some of the two versions was that in 1968 and 1969, they hung a Commander badge on one, and the following year, they hung a Lancer badge on the same exact boat, showing how the Lancer family tree is closely branched with the Commander series. The 19′ Lancers have a direct link to the Chris Craft Commander, and this interest extends to other models (such as the Corsair Sea-V) produced in Cortland during Chris Craft’s “golden age” of fiberglass runabout manufacturing.
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Chris-Craft Commander refers to a series of cruisers produced by Chris-Craft Industries. The first Commander was launched at the 1964 New York Boat Show in 1963. None of the major main line motor yacht builders (Matthews, Owens, C.P. Leeks (Pacemaker), etc.) were using fiberglass at the time. Hatteras Yachts, which began as a collaboration between two North Carolina furniture manufacturers, and Pearson, which is best known for its fiberglass auxiliary sailboat cruisers, were the only companies producing fiberglass boats longer than 30 feet. [requires citation]