5 Modern Runabout Boats That Pay Homage to Classic Designs


Classically inspired vessels by names such as Comitti and Wajer are much more than their looks.

The distinctive look of a classic runabout—a subtly curved profile, varnished mahogany hull and decks, and mirror-finished chrome—took shape in the 1920s before fully coming into its own in the 1960s. Select yards in the U.S. and Europe are still inspired by this enduring style while incorporating the latest in propulsion, fiberglass hulls, and onboard technology. Here, five such craft that will have you actually enjoying getting the runaround for once.

Citation Longitude
Citation Longitude


Photo: Wajer Yachts

Wajer has greatly expanded its fleet since the Dutch yard was founded more than three decades ago. The new Wajer 44, which boasts a 40-knot planing hull, a functional cabin, and an outdoor layout that optimizes usable space, best demonstrates the line’s evolutionary progression. Legendary NFL quarterback Tom Brady is a fan, having purchased two other Wajers.

Frauscher 1017 GT

Photo: Frauscher

The Frauscher family, who have overseen their eponymous Austrian yard since 1927, eschew the word “retro” in favor of “timeless”—though they freely admit to slipping “design cues from the past” (including vertical bows) into all their builds. The sleek 1017 GT is a forward-looking version of a 1920s Gentleman’s Racer, with a top speed of 67 mph thanks to its stepped hull and twin 430 hp engines, while the options list includes such futuristic features as underwater lighting.

Cockwells ‘Grace’

Photo: Andrew Wright

Specializing in custom tenders for 28 years, U.K. yard Cockwells created a new benchmark for itself with the 31-foot Grace, capable of maintaining its composure at a top speed of 44 mph. “We wanted to create an elegant boat that would look at home beside a classic Riva, with the performance of any modern vessel,” says founder Dave Cockwells. That intriguing recipe includes pinstripe-mahogany decks juxtaposed against a modern helm replete with a display screen on a carbon-fiber background.

Comitti Venezia V31

Photo: Comitti Boats

With its fast, slender hull and wood decks, Comitti’s Venezia V31 exudes la dolce vita, but with a contemporary twist. For this model, the Italian yard (dating back 68 years) retains the best of the old world—sensuous lines, a mahogany console and wheel, and teak or mahogany inlays—while offering a top speed of 53 mph, a full cabin, and a full-beam sunbed over the engine.

Van Dam ‘Lickety Split’

Photo: Billy Black

For 47 years, the Van Dam yard in Boyne City, Mich., has been turning out world-renowned, bespoke wooden vessels. The white-hulled Lickety Split, a 24-foot Gentleman’s Runabout, showcases the builder’s woodworking prowess with mahogany and features a long-planked deck with a stylized two-seat cockpit aft, and, forward of the windshield, a concealed rumble seat remotely controlled from the helm. True to its name, the boat can hit 55 mph thanks to its custom 350 hp Sterling engine.

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