William D. Jackson's Original 12-Foot Ace

The Plans

      The Boat Builder's Handbook was published periodically by Science and Mechanics in the 1950s and 1960s.  It offered plans for all types of boats including the "Ace" in 1956.  This 12-foot design was created by William D. Jackson, a legendary naval architect and boating editor of Science and Mechanics who was famous for his many, many plans for the average boat builder.  Click to read an article about Jackson from a 1988 issue of the Small Boat Journal.

      The Sandes started with this 12-footer and at least one of theirs still exists.  They finally improved on the design by stretching the plans for their Sande Ace to 13' 2".  The beam width stayed essentially the same.  They apparently also played with a 14-foot design although these are not as well documented.

Click the cover to find Jackson's original Ace plans.
1956 Boat Builder's Handbook

      The original Ace, shown on the cover, was a "speedy two-cockpit outboard runabout for towing water skiers and general family boating."

      -  12' 4" long
      -  5' 9" beam width
      -  32 MPH with a 16 HP Evinrude
      -  50 MPH with a 40 HP Mercury with a quickie lower unit

      Its beveled chines - a William Jackson signature - allowed "safe turns at high speed." The subassembly construction also lent itself to "mass production by the assembly line method."

Original Ace

The Old Professor of Bilge Water Academy

      As the story goes, the plans for the original 12-foot Ace were hand drawn by William D. Jackson and draftsmen put them in publishable form for the Boat Builder's Handbook.  Every once in a while, though, Jackson inserted a more personal note.  When he wanted to strongly emphasize a construction point, he would use the moniker "the old professor of Bilge Water Academy."  He used this title in the Craft Print No. 233 Ace plans when he described how important it was to have a flat hull to prevent porpoising which he called "galloping."

Nine Aces from the Original Plans

Click here or on the photo to see beautiful modern-day examples of the 12-foot Ace!