What the Heck is Crab Derby Racing?

Smith Island Crabbing Skiff 20-Foot
Dave Hannam Racing Skiff
In the late 1890s, soft shell crab harvesting on the Chesapeake was done by single-sail bateau or by throwing crab netting at low tide. In 1919 Captain Lawson Tyler, a noted Smith Island carpenter designed a sturdy single cylinder motorized long and narrow 20' skiff. Over the years the engines were upgraded and the speedy little skiffs bows would spring out of the water and eventually would be used for weekend racng. They were built mostly out of pine or cypress with botom planking running lengthwise, rather than the common cross planking, allowing faster movement through the water.

Hannam in Race
The skiff race has found new life, a select few craftsman here in MD & VA have decided to build replicas, insert a Kohler 20 hp lawn mower engine and enjoy the thrill of racing on the bay. Click below to see Dave's White Skiff (w/ lightning bolt on the side) in a few of the local races in the Bay!