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In the fall of 1979, a small group of wooden Century owners from the Chicago area came together to exchange information about their boats and to consider initiating a club dedicated to wooden Centurys. Up to this time these boats went virtually unnoticed in the antique and classic circles. Discouraged by this lack of recognition, Rich Sima placed an ad in a Chicago newspaper to contact Century owners.
Instrumental to the early development of the Century Boat Club was the addition of one of antique boating's patriarchs, the late Bob Speltz. Speltz, author of The Real Runabouts books on antique boats, gave the infant club national exposure. The Century line held special meaning to Speltz as his father at one time owned a 20' Sea Maid.
The club was established as, and continues to be, a boat users organization. In fact, most of the members use their boats throughout the summer; shows are only a very small portion of the season for these classic beauties. This is the distinct difference of antique boating. Unlike antique automobiling, where an old car is seldom, if ever, taken from a garage to go anywhere but a meet or show, wooden boats share the waterways with today's newest boats everyday.
The Century Boat Club Today
The small core that formed the club quickly expanded beyond the Chicago area and like the hobby of antique boating, continues to grow. Membership now reaches throughout the United States and Canada, with the greatest concentration settled in the Great Lakes region, and numbers close to 1000 members.
The criteria for belonging is really quite simple: an appreciation of or interest in the wooden boats built by the Century Boat Company over the years. The club cooperates with many other organizations but is completely independent, having no ties to any parent organization or company. The group's ongoing success is entirely dependent upon the support of the membership.