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Ski Craft Boats
In the US as Ski Craft, Inc., 1507 12th Ave. Seattle, Washington (Jan. 1965, Popular Science). Also found listed as Ski Craft Distributors, Ralph Phillippi, President (Nov. 12, 1965, Los Angeles Times) and Rotomotive Industries of Seattle (Jan 16, 1966 New York Times). The Ski Craft entered into production on October 1, 1962 in Germany, 6 1/2 ft, top speed of 28 mph attained with a Wankel motor rated at 21-hp with 9.15 cu in. of displacement. Units may have been produced earlier (Sept. 30, 1962, New York Times). The early German-made Ski Craft as pictured lacks tail fins found on later production boats and was sold on the German market for the equivalent of about $700 (March 1963, Popular Mechanics).
The Ski Craft belongs to the type of craft known as ski-tows or ski-tugs. It consists of a 6 to 6 1/2 ft fiberglass hull and a 21 to 24 HP NSU Wankel Type 61 rotary engine (length and advertised horsepower rating varies). The engine, which alone weighs 60 lbs, the entire craft 130 lbs. The motor propelled the craft and operator up to 30 mph while using less than one gallon of gas per hour (January 1965 Popular Science). The operator is towed on water skis behind the craft, grasping extended handles which include throttle controls. The operator steers using their skis. Many states have laws requiring there to be separate drivers and observers for water skiing, however the addition of a "deadman" throttle which stops the motor if the skier releases their grip assisted the company in getting a waiver for this requirement. Such a waiver was granted Sept. 17, 1965 by the State of California. The manufacturer claimed the device could stop in 12 feet and no danger was posed to the operator (November 12, 1965, Los Angeles Times). According the aforementioned article, the Ski Craft listed for $849.50 but ten Ski Craft were available for rent ($7 per hour) at the Salton City Marina on the Salton Sea.
This craft is unique in that the raised, extended handles necessitated the user stand while towed. Other similar craft such as the Sea Skimmer and Swimobile had throttle and handles mounted on the hull of the unit.