Awards celebrating the craftsmanship of homebuilt-boats have been an institution at OkoumeFest since the earliest days. Once again we were presented with a nearly insurmountable challenge of picking the best of the best. But our ad hoc panel of judges, Nick Schade, John Harris, and Jay Hockenberry, brought to bear a mixture of piercing analysis and ignoble prejudice to annoint the winners.  

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We really needed a special award for skin boats.  Most or all of the examples on display were assembled in classes led by Mark Kaufman.  Notice the detail here---these were some of the nicest skin boats we've ever seen.

Baidarka at Chesapeake Light Craft OkoumeFest

This child's baidarka, built by Chris Coleman, was typical of the fine craftsmanship.

Lori Carlson displayed this Shearwater 17, built in a class at CLC.  The Haida graphics were printed on rice paper and embedded under the fiberglass.  (The paper disappears, leaving the design.)

This Shearwater 17, whose builder's name escaped us, had exceptionally clean fittings for the deck rigging.

One of the many Kaholo SUPs on hand had this wonderful fabric underlying the fiberglass.

Nick Schade inspects Rob Perlman's Petrel, which featured inlaid turquoise designs.

Neil Meister won Best SUP for his Kaholo 14 with Maryland flag graphics.

Neil's board featured a laser-burned "license plate" on the tailblock, one of many clever touches.

Bill White and Greg Day built this Northeaster Dory in a class at the WoodenBoat School in Maine.  They persevered with a very clean finish and fit out, and won the award for Best Smallcraft.

John Harris (center), the designer of the Northeaster Dory, poses with Bill and Greg.

Second Runner-up for Best Kayak went to Dave and Melissa Rhodes for the Chesapeake 16 with astonishing dragon graphics.

Some of the sharp detail on the Green Dragon kayak.

A builder identifying himself only as "Red" brought several beautifully rendered wooden kayaks.  He won First Runner-up Best Kayak for this Solo MicroBootlegger, a tricky-to-build Nick Schade design.  We liked the tasteful touches of red stain and clean overall execution.

More details of Red's Solo MicroBootlegger.

He named this kayak "Le Chat Rouge." 



The judges studying Red's handiwork.

Dan Thaler built this concours-quality Petrel kayak (carried here by Chris).  Dan won Best Kayak for this bravura execution.



There were many nice touches in Dan Thaler's Petrel build.  He really brought out the Petrel's shapely lines.

"Best in Show" is forever a conundrum.  Does it go to the flashiest boat?  The most difficult-to-build?  The profferer of the largest bribe? We reverted to the formula that gives the most satisfaction to all involved.  We award Best in Show to the builder whose joinery is impeccable, who makes it look effortless, who doesn't get lost in the details, and who achieves an understated degree of perfection.  The result is an aura of craftsmanship that leaves us feeling warm all over.

This year's Best in Show went to Chris Harlan's Shearwater Sport Hybrid.  Congrats, Chris!




Thunderbird pattern strip design.
 

A perfect finish and tight joinery in the strip deck. 

 



Thanks again for a wonderful, memorable OkoumeFest.  See you next year!

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