Your go-to source for performance boating.
HomePeoplePeopleHull Innovator Dave Switzer, 96, Remembered

Hull Innovator Dave Switzer, 96, Remembered

Dave Switzer of Switzer Craft powerboats fame had possibly the most creative designing mind in boat-racing history. He didn’t just take existing designs and make subtle derivative changes, he amazingly created whole new concepts, without wasting time to even draw up a set of plans.

previous arrow
previous arrow
next arrow
next arrow

Dave Switzer is perhaps best known for the creation of the Switzer Wing raceboat, which dominated its era. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

His original Switzer Shooting Star “Slipper” bottom took a completely different approach to air entrapment, compression and deck air-lift concepts. He followed this with his unique and unparalleled “four-point hydro cat,” in the short “Switzer Wing.” In this one hull, he combined the very first four-point hydro with an actual airplane wing profile and made what arguably is—to this date—the most efficient marine racing craft ever developed. And he did all this without putting a pen to paper yet somehow continually changing and improving his mental design gallery.

Switzer’s late brother, Bob, set records and earned championships in hulls designed by Dave. Later he pioneered the “downhill V” concept and even made a one-off, championship-winning tri-hull. The sport owes an enormous debt to this visionary and his ideas run through all American Power Boat Association and Union Internationale Motonautique categories to this day.

In the world of high-performance powerboat design, Dave Switzer was a true innovator. Photo courtesy copyright Carlee Wade.

In later years he refused to look back on his past designs, while creating everything from a liveaboard catamaran to a totally unique outboard runabout.

My fondest memory of Dave was at the Outboard Performance Championship Marathon Nationals in 1969 at Smith Mountain Lake, Va. The key vantage points on shore were crowded and Dave saw a string of pilings from a ruined dock at lakeside. I watched as he stepped gingerly from piling to piling—each was about 10 inches in diameter—until he stood at the end, balancing on a tiny surface. He stood there unmoving for three solid hours never taking his eyes off the boats in the race. I am sure he was calculating how to go faster and longer than any of the boats he was studying, including his own.

Rest in peace to one of my few heroes.

Editor’s note: This remembrance first appeared February 13 on Rich Luhrs’ Facebook page. Luhrs (above in a Switzer Wing) is the chairman of the American Power Boat Association’s Offshore Racing Commission and is a commissioner for the Union Internationale Motonautique. He is a frequent contributor to speedonthewater.com.

Related stories
Pioneer Powerboat Designer Bob Switzer Dies
Switzer Craft—Ahead Of Its Time And Timeless
Florida Vintage Raceboat Club Kicks Off 2022 Season In Tavares
Florida Vintage Raceboat Club Spring Regatta Commands Lake Dora
Photo Essay: Florida Vintage Raceboat Club Hosts Another Triumphant Fall Thunder Regatta