For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why usually rational people lost their minds on the performance-boating message boards at the mention of the name “Apache.” People would have these frothing-at-the-mouth arguments over what is, for all intents and purposes, a dead boat brand.
OK, to be fair to my friend Mark McManus, who still builds and restores Apache powerboats, the brand isn’t dead. But it’s reasonable to say that an Apache is more of a high-end collector’s item than a contemporary V-bottom on the order of Cigarette and Outerlimits.
Having watched “The Legend of Apache” from Big-Seas Productions, LLC—I still don’t get it. I still have no idea why folks get so worked up over the Apache name. I mean, it just doesn’t seem like anything to get all that upset about.
But I do, at last, understand how Apache earned its reputation as the ultimate rough-water V-bottom during the 1980s. The footage of Apache boats, from 32- to 47-footers, racing offshore is just plain scary. That has nothing to do with the boats themselves, and everything to do with sea conditions in which they earned their stripes. You won’t find seas like these outside the “The Deadliest Catch”—minus the snow storms—and that Discovery Channel reality show is filmed in the Bering Sea. Quite simply, when the water was ferocious and frightening, Apache V-bottoms dominated. And that dominance lasted a decade.
Did you know that Apache produced both a wooden and a fiberglass catamaran? Did you know that the wooden version was obliterated in a horrendous stuff—it’s on the video—the left Bob Saccenti, the founder of Apache with a skull fracture and his racing partner, Ben Kramer, looking for a new throttleman?
Sure, the crashes and near-crashes in “The Legend of Apache” will capture the most viewer attention, but equally if not more impressive is Apache after Apache flying level and beautiful, often covering three or four boat lengths through the air in huge seas. That’s a credit to Apache throttling greats such as Saccenti, Bob Idoni, Bobby Moore and Richie Powers. But it’s also a credit to the design and build quality of the Apache line.
To call several of the characters surrounding Apache “colorful,” as knowledgeable narrator Rich Luhrs does near the end of the DVD, is charitable—but safe. The truth is a lot of those people made their fortunes in the drug trade, which is a fast-burn business with guaranteed personnel turnover. That’s why some of them are in prison or were in prison, and others are simply gone.
Does that taint the Apache name? Not to my way of thinking. The boats were brilliant and they ruled their era on the race course. And even if that means nothing to you—even if you’re one of the few performance-boat lovers who don’t get all hot and bothered when you hear the Apache name—just seeing these huge V-bottoms catching big air, again and again, is worth your time.