A century and a half with Chris-Craft

In 2024 the iconic American shipyard turns 150. Today Chris-Craft is one of the most famous and recognizable brands in the world that sells not just boats, but a lifestyle and luxury recreation



It has been a long time since Chris-Craft became a true cultural icon and a legend in the marine industry. In terms of awareness and fame the brand is comparable to Chanel in the fashion industry or Rolls-Royse in the automotive one. This year Chris-Craft celebrates its 150th anniversary, but what was prior to their success? How did a small garage workshop from Detroit area turn into a world-famous luxury powerboat manufacturer?

An icon is born

The birth of most iconic brands has to do with the personality of their founders. Chris-Craft founder, Christopher Columbus Smith, embodied two unique characteristics: a talent of a shipbuilder and a true passion for woodworking. Christopher knew how to choose and how to work with the best material. When he was young, he would spend hours looking for the right wood and relying on the criteria that only he could understand.



In 1874 at the age of just 13 Christopher built his first boat and quickly earned a reputation as a master boat builder. The demand for his “punts” and “skiffs” kept growing. To keep up with it, Chris joined forces with his brother, Hank, expanded the production and thus laid the groundwork for Chris-Craft’s 150-year long history.



30 years later that small garage workshop in the town of Algonac, Michigan, turned into Smith Ryan Boat Company, the predecessor of the Chris-Craft Boats. It managed to gain fame not only on both American coasts, but far beyond. It is a well-known fact that the founder of Riva Yachts, Pietro Riva, took his first steps inspired by Chris-Craft experience. Christopher Smith’s woodworking skills were regarded with so much respect inside the US that the highest quality wood was dubbed ‘Chris-Craft quality’ at lumber yards.



Times changed, and though the Chris-Craft Boats company entered the period of economic crisis and the Great Depression as the largest world manufacturer of mahogany boats, its management had to go back to the roots and build small runabouts again.

The shipyard teetered on the edge of survival till the beginning of World War II, but in 1941 Chris-Craft converted to production for the military: patrol boats, utility launches and rescue vessels for the United States Navy. By 1945 they had built over 12 thousand military vessels, and it was Chris-Craft landing craft that was used in the Normandy beach invasion, featured so vividly in Hollywood movies.



After World War II Chris-Craft saw a real boom in pleasure boats. The soldiers that were going back home and a growing middle class supported the demand, so the shipyard expanded its lineup to 139 various models. By the early 1950s Chris-Craft became one of the symbols of American lifestyle, and in 1955 it was one of the first world manufacturers to use fiberglass. It was a real revolution that gave birth to new types of motor yachts and powerboats.



It was during this period that Chris-Craft boats acquired the status of cultural icons and became popular among celebrities and billionaires. They were featured in Hollywood films and owned by such stars as Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Katherine Hepburn and Frank Sinatra. Since then, the brand has entrenched itself in American culture, becoming a true symbol of success and prosperity.

But technical progress has its flipside, too. Thus, in 1971 Chris-Craft built their last mahogany boat – the 57 ft Constellation TM, and switched to yachts and powerboats of composite materials completely.

Today the company is still making a difference to shipbuilding, offering its customers the unique Chris-Craft style. Even after a century and a half the brand keeps its identity, its family traits and uncompromising quality, and to this day Chris-Craft vessels are a true embodiment of luxury lifestyle and recreational boating.

Every Chris-Craft powerboat is the result of experienced craftsmen’s work, who put all their art and skill in every detail, emphasizing the premium status of the brand. Rich history, continuous improvement and a unique mix of traditions and innovations – that’s what makes Chris-Craft a legend of maritime industry. As the American saying goes, “there are boats, and there is Chris-Craft”.



Chris-Craft representative office has been operating in Cyprus since 2023. The iconic shipyard’s representative on Sunny Island is West Nautical, one of the leading European yachting companies with over 20 years of experience and a focus on premium and luxury motor boat segment. Two Chris-Craft flagship models, Chris-Craft 35 GT and Chris-Craft 28 GT, are already available for sale in Limassol Marina at most attractive prices. The powerboats are completely ready for the season of unforgettable sea trips in maximum comfort.

A romantic date, an exhilarating weekend among family and friends, or a thrilling passage from Limassol to Paphos or Ayia Napa, where there is just you, the sea and the wind in your hair? Or perhaps you feel like admiring the sunset somewhere closer to Akamas or watch the Perseids in the most picturesque bays of Cyprus? It’s only up to you!



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