What Kind of Boat Does a Former Offshore World Champion Racer Build for Himself? You Might Be Suprised!

Assuming fast boats have been an integral part of your life since you were a pre-teen, you might wonder what kind of boat you'd want to own when you're a full-grown adult. If you're like Jerry Gilbreath of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, that answer came in the form of an incredible wooden masterpiece of design, craftsmanship and perfection.

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It really isn't that much of a surprise that Jerry and his wife Donna conjured up "Jefe" with an assist from the talents and ingenuity of The Resort Boat Shop and Hagadone Marine Group. After all, Jerry is the son of one of boating industry's most innovative and prolific producers of high performance marine accessories from the 60s, 70s and 80s, Jake Gilbreath, founder of Gil Marine. In addition to a stellar resume that included virtually every aspect of power boat competition from marathon, to ski racing to offshore, it was Gil Marine who introduced the first successful outboard transom bracket to the marine market in the mid-1970s, and when Mercury Racing debuted its overwhelmingly successful 500HP inboard/sterndrive package, every engine had a set of Gil water cooled aluminum exhaust manifolds and stainless steel tailpipes on it.

Meanwhile, Jerry was busy in his own right developing, engineering, consulting and rigging many of the most successful offshore race boats the sport has ever seen. And just to seal the deal, Jerry more often than not occupied the throttleman seat, helping high profile race teams on both the east and west coasts win numerous national and world offshore titles in the sport.

So what has Jerry and Donna done? They could have built just about any boat, engine and propulsion combination imaginable. It could have been a Skater, MTI, Fountain, Nor Tec or an Outerlimits, but it wasn't. It could have had two, three or even four Mercury Racing 1350s, but it didn't.

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Instead, Jerry and Donna stuck close to home in Idaho, commissioning the build of hull number one in a new line of Coeur d'Alene Custom Wood Boats from The Resort Boat Shop, joining a long list of other custom builds that include everything from sailboats to tugs to elegant wooden runabouts.

"I've had this idea in my head for a very long time," said Jerry. "I've spent years building, engineering and rigging incredible pieces of fiberglass designed to go fast across the water, but I've never done anything in wood. I've always admired beautiful Chris Crafts and Rivas for their timeless beauty and craftsmanship. This just seemed like the perfect moment to put this project in to motion and make it a reality."

"When I saw the 60-foot custom wood sailboat, "Sizzler", that The Resort Boat Shop built for its owner, Duane Hagadone, that was the clincher," continued Jerry. "It is a magnificent boat. I thought if they could build a sailboat like that, they could certainly build the 'gentleman's runabout' that I had been thinking about for years."

According to Hagadone Marine Group's manager, Craig Brosenne, "Working with Jerry and Donna has been quite rewarding. They are exacting owners with a clear vision for excellence, and that's where our team of boat builders excel."

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"Jefe" was completed and launched in June 2009. It is 34-feet long, with a 102-inch beam and a 15-degree deadrise vee-bottom. Power is provided by a pair of MerCruiser/Mercury Racing small-block (383 c.i.) 400 horsepower engines and Bravo I stern drives. It is constructed from a combination of traditional materials and new technologies. The hull is cold-molded construction using epoxy resins. The base is Western Red Cedar, topped with three layers of African mahogany laid on their bias. This process provides versatility of design, coupled with exceedingly high material strengths. Both the exterior and interior of "Jefe" are finished with fifteen coats of Awlgrip 545 epoxy, four coats of Epifanes PP varnish, ten coats of clear Alexseal plus hours of wet sanding and a five-stage buffing process.

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Although at first glance it might appear that the boat is the result of some magnificent restoration project, it is not. "The only vintage part of the boat is the trees that were grown to make it," commented Jerry. In actuality, the entire boat is custom and unique from the CNC machined throttle handles to the cabinetry to the hull shape. The dashboard includes custom Livorsi gauges, Latham throttles/shifters and a tilting Latham stainless steel helm. The interior is finished in top-end ultra-leather materials with mahogany and teakwood accents. The many built-on amenities include a mirrored beverage bar and a removable cocktail table.

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Admittedly not intended for ultimate top speed, "Jefe" still exceeds 65 miles an hour at wide open throttle, and thanks to the unique shape of the wrap-around windshield, there is little or no air movement inside the open cockpit to disturb passengers or the driver.

Although it was not built for competition, Jerry and Donna have not been able to resist the temptation to take "Jefe" to several of the finer classic boat regattas around the country. So far, in judged competition, "Jefe" has been an unchallenged blue-ribbon winner, including at the 2010 hot boat mecca of Desert Storm in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

"I've had this boat in my thoughts for about the last twenty years," Jerry said. "The people at The Resort Boat Shop literally built my dream."

Jefe Specifications:

Design: GMT & Coeur d'Alene Custom Wood Boats

Length: 34'

Beam: 102"

Deadrise: 15 degree vee

Weight: 7,000 lbs.

Power: (2) MerCruiser/Mercury Racing 383 c.i. 400 HP, Bravo I Drives

Performance: 65+ mph

Fuel capacity: 85 gal.


-- 15 coats of Awlgrip 545 epoxy, four coats of Epifanes PP varnish, 10 coats of clear Alexseal including wet sanding and a five-stage buffing process.

-- Twin 400 HP MerCruiser engines and Bravo I sterndrives

-- Billet trim tabs

-- Cold molded design (Western Red Cedar, 3 layers of African Mahogany)

-- Latham stainless steel tilt helm

-- Stainless steel banjo style steering wheel

-- Custom designed hull with lifting strakes and integrated chines

-- Molded glass custom stainless windshields and frame

-- Livorsi instrumentation

-- Latham throttles/shifters

-- Navigation lights

-- Pop-up stainless steel bow and stern cleats

-- Stainless steel fender cleats

-- Halon automatic fire extinguishing system in engine compartment

-- Bench seat aft, forward captain's seats

-- Stainless steel rub railings

-- C.M.I. polished stainless custom exhaust and talipipes

-- Ultraleather

-- Teak flooring

-- 85-gallon custom aluminum fuel tank

-- Interior of hull and under deck, 100% varnished finish

-- Interior courtesy lights in cockpit, engine compartment

-- Stainless steel custom bow eye

-- Electric engine hatch lift

-- Custom stainless steel side vents into engine compartment

-- Receptacle for 12-volt implements

-- Sunbrella mooring cover

-- Custom trailer

-- Custom bimini top

-- Cockpit cover

-- Keyless ignition

-- On-board GPS

-- Integrated wooden swim platform