Custom painted National Bass Association "Medalist" boat painted by Wimp Cantrell. August/September 1977 issue of National Bassman Magazine.

When FLW introduced boat wraps to the industry around the 2000 time frame the world of sponsor advertisement exploded.  No longer did you have small stickers on the side of the boat that video or still cameras couldn’t make out.  Instead, from waterline to gunwale you can easily see who was sponsoring the angler or the circuit.  As wraps have morphed over the years, they’ve also become integral to the anglers’ trademark personality.  In today’s post, Before Wraps There was Wimp, we’re going to look back to the 1970s and show an example of what was available to the angler who wanted more than just gelcoat on their boat.

Back in the 1970s and even through the 90s, it was commonplace for anglers to have their names pinstriped on their motor cowlings and on the gunwale at the cockpit.  Anglers who really wanted to spice things up a bit would have the painter pinstripe the entire upper cap and even the transom.

Taking that a bit further, some anglers would also have manufactures logos and trademarks professionally painted on the sides of their boats.  One thing all these had in common, though, was the original gelcoat of the boat was always the background.  Another caveat was it cost a lot of money.

Taking it event further are the two images in this post.  The images for this piece were taken out of a couple National Bassman magazines, August/September and October/November, 1977.  These ads were not only advertising the National Bass Hurst Medalist boat, but they were also featuring the handy work of artist Wimp Cantrell.  The ad states that a limited number of these custom painted boats would be offered on a first come, first served basis.

Based on the ad, it’s apparent that what they were selling was a white gelcoat boat with Wimps paint work on the sides and transom.  The ad also states that you can collaborate with Wimp to come up with a design that reflects the buyer’s taste and may also incorporate the buyer’s name.

So, let’s assume the geometric design and other artwork on the sides of the boats are painted.  That’s a ton of work and a lot of money, I’m sure.  The artwork looks great but what happens when you rub the boat up against a cypress tree or dock?  There goes all that art.  My question now is, why wouldn’t they just incorporate the designs into the gelcoat.  Based on old boats I have seen, gelcoat pinstripes were around back then.  Maybe it was too much setup?  It’s hard to say.

Custom painted National Bass Association "Medalist" boat painted by Wimp Cantrell. October/November 1977 issue of National Bassman Magazine.

Let’s check out the boats for a minute while we’re here.  Both are 17-ft 6-in Hurst B-175 hulls fitted with 175 horse Black Max motors.  These “Medalist” boats were part of National Bass Association’s championship fish-off, modeled after the Bass Masters Classic.  Each boat was loaded with everything a bass angler might want in the day. For more on these championship boats, check out the Old Bass Boats 1977 post we published in July 2022.

Anyway, here’s how the boats were rigged.

Double H Trailer, Mercury Quicksilver steering, Mercury Quicksilver Remote Controls, 12-volt Silvertrol trolling motor with 22 pounds of thrust, Garcia Flasher/Paper Recorder (console), Humminbird Super 60 flasher (bow), Garcia oxygen-temperature probe, automatic anchor winch, Anchor Reins, Strike King mushroom anchor, Silvertrol Total Electric System, and a Bass Saver automatic aeration system.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find any more of these ads in the 1977, 78 or 79 National Bassman magazines I have, and I have nearly a complete set.  It appears that the offer was only good for the one year, which more than likely means they didn’t sell.

The cost of today’s wraps is about $3,000 for a 20-foot boat.  That equates to roughly $600 in 1977 cash.  I can definitely see these costing at least that much if they indeed were hand painted.  Heck, that money would have bought you around five brand new graphite rods and Speed Spools to put on them!  No thank, I’ll take the factory gelcoat any day.