If you have never heard of  ‘Cocktail Class’ wooden boat racing, you are not alone. Only approximately 500 of these Cocktail Class plywood ‘skimmers’ exist in the world.


Yet for the people in 33 US states and 7 countries who build and race the slim, lightweight wooden powerboats, the small size equals big fun on almost any body of water.

The skimmers were designed in 1939 by Charles MacGregor and published in the boating magazine ‘The Rudder’ as a DIY boat that used what was then a new and novel material – plywood.

Peter Urbani, who owns and races a Cocktail Class boat, said the sport – also called skua racing– is a family-friendly, backyard-builder pastime that’s just starting to grow up. His father, a Chesapeake Bay boat builder, got him into it.

“It’s always been a laid back thing–a few families built up a small fleet of boats,” Urbani said. “Now it’s the fastest-growing class of boat-racing, but it started as families going out. It’s so casual women wore pearl necklaces to race, and it’s still like that.”

It was 2010 before the group that loved these small boats formed the Cocktail Class Wooden Boat Racing Association (CCWBRA). As it began to get more organized, CCWBRA also became more safety conscious, and started to require that boaters wear helmets for races.

Some boaters have raced using bicycle helmets. Yet CCWBRA is over time proposing more specifications for racing helmets – such as that they be bright orange for visibility. That’s when Peter Urbani found his way to the Nutcase website.

He looked at the Street helmet in bright and visible Dutch Orange, but it didn’t meet another suggested standard for ear flaps.
So Urbani bought the Moto helmet in Salt and had it rushed to his home, as the race season has begun.

“I had so much to do to get my boat ready, but there I was in the middle of the night putting five quick coats of orange on the Moto helmet,” he said. “Then I painted the whole thing with Plasti Dip.”


Urbani loved that the Moto has a clear visor, keeping the spray off his glasses and out of his eyes.

“The Moto really fit pretty well and looks great in obnoxious blaze orange,” he said. Peter’s two-tone paint job is pretty nifty.

We’re putting cocktail class wooden boat racing on the list as the latest Nutty sport to love a Nutcase helmet, and looking at high-visibility orange as a possible future Moto color choice, too.