Paul and Darris Allison
First to be fast, fast to be first
Live in: Louisville, Tennessee
Sketch: Paul’s grandfather owned a steamboat line on the Tennessee River, and his family lived on the boats, so boating really is in the bloodlines.
At the 50th anniversary of Allison Boats there was a replica of the company’s first model from 1955 — and it had a stepped hull! Which should give you a clue as to whom we’re dealing with here.
I’m not sure how the Allison’s, builders of some of the fastest bass boats in the world, have done it. Paul (now in his mid- 80s) and his son Darris have laid claim to an amazing list of firsts.
There’s cupping prop blades, which involves putting a small curl on the trailing edge to reduce cavitation and slippage. Also there are streamlined gear cases to increase speed and reduce blowout. One of their most notable advances was the keel pad. It forever changed bass boat hulls. By making the keel a long, narrow, flat surface instead of a sharp edge, a boat would rise up higher and go faster — without sacrificing a V-bottom’s smooth ride.
To complement this in 1974, the Allison’s came up with the setback, or “notched” transom. This notch moved the transom forward where the water cleared it, giving the prop more leverage for steering, trim and speed.
The Allison’s were early adapters of all-composite construction, built-in tackle boxes, trim switches on the wheel and quick-change windshields, and the list goes on and on. To be fair, boatbuilding is a small copycat industry. Ideas get shared and picked up. We know that others also take claim for some of the above. But no family has done so much, for so long.
For more innovations check out the Game Changers photo gallery.