Innovation in Design and Construction

Well-known in the racing and pleasure boating worlds for its light weight, strength, stability and speed, the Yellow Jacket was the product of both innovative design and quality construction.

Design: British Roots and Wartime Technology

Naval architect Richard C. Cole was born in in 1909 England and as a young man, worked in the outboard division on Watermota, a premier marine engine manufacturer in the UK. He moved to South Africa in 1935 and became a naval architect, designing small outboard cruisers for Usher Craft. Seeing opportunity in the U.S., Cole and his wife moved first to Canada in 1947 while awaiting visa clearance to move to the U.S. While in Canada, he designed a 5-layer molded plywood speedboat hull for Industrial Shipping of Mahone Bay (near Halifax, Nova Scotia). Industrial Shipping was already well-known for the manufacture of the WWII vintage laminated wood bomber, the Mosquito.

The sleek, clean hull design would prove successful, as Industrial Shipping sold thousands of hulls to not only Yellow Jacket, but to other U.S. and Canadian manufacturers such as Morehouse Boats in New York, and Watson Marine in Manitoba.

The Watson Angler's hull, built by Industrial Shipping of Mahone Bay, NS, bears a strong resemblance to a Yellow Jacket's

Cole moved to Miami, FL in 1950, and would go on to design decks, stringers, transoms and even spring seats for one of Industrial Shipping's best customers, Yellow Jacket Boats. Cole is credited with the hull design in the 1951 Yellow Jacket brochure, their second model year. But Yellow Jacket was just a small part of Cole's notable achievement in hull design. Read more. Thanks to Mike Cole, Richard's son, for this information.

Construction: Canadian builder moves to Texas

Among the skilled builders of laminated hulls at Industrial Shipping in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia was the very enterprising George Wesley Theakston. Theakston, who went by his middle name, Wesley, was accomplished in the molded hull technology, using thin layers of Canadian birch and phenolic resin adhesives under heat and pressure to bring Richard Cole's designs to life.

When Yellow Jacket Boats became very popular in the early 1950's Theakston was confident enough in the Yellow Jacket business that he moved his young family to Denison, Texas and formed Theakston Boat Company to build hulls for Yellow Jacket exclusively. He brought with him the Cole designs, the molds and, most importantly, the knowledge necessary to build the light, sturdy hulls in Texas. Theakston's plant was constructed adjacent to the Yellow Jacket facility off highway 91 along the Red River north of Denison.

Theakston and two former Industrial Shipping associates, Billy Zink and Ray Mullock, were soon practicing their molded birch-ply construction methods in Denison. By 1957, they changed from birch veneer to mahogany, and turned out 7000 hulls in one year. In the late '50s, Theakston also built Yellow Jacket style hulls for Sears Roebuck, sold under the Elgin marque. After Yellow Jacket ceased operations in 1959, Theakston continued to build hulls for E. E. Gaines under the Stinger name. The Theakston operation went out of business in 1964. (Special thanks to G. W. Theakston's daughters, Elaine and Valerie, for this information and these photos).

(l-r) Roy Rogers, Mac McDerby and Wesley Theakston have a first hand look at the manufacturing process of a Yellow Jacket's molded hull.

Enjoy listening to Jerry Stinson talk about his younger years in Denison and his Dad's work with Theakston Corporation: