Arneson is one of the household names of boating. As both the inventor of the pool sweep and the Arneson Surface Drive, Howard Arneson has left his mark on the water in a big way. With Howard just having turned 94, it’s amazing to think he’s still shaping the marine industry and a good time to reflect back on his achievements. Howard had raced hydroplanes since the 50s, but it wasn’t until a fateful accident years later that he began development on the pool sweep, which eventually enabled him to persue his true passion – high speed powerboats.
In the 1980s inspiration struck, and the innovative design of the Arneson Surface Drive was born. Typically, a prop must be fully submerged, but not with the Arneson drive. A set of hydraulic pistons keeps the prop half in, half out of the water, and another set steers the boat. The streamlined simplicity and efficiency of the design over the years led to Arneson’s inclusion not only in powerboats, but yachts, ferries, and even military equipment.
Arneson Surface Drives (ASDs) were so effective that they were carried by many of the offshore racing champions of the time. Stern drive heights were 3-6 inches lower than they were today, and speeds were nearly 10-20% lower. With even more innovations to the ASD technology, such as trimmable rocker plates that can be molded-in or transom mounted, improvements to Arneson’s handling and speed capabilities are constantly being made. Even though Howard retired from racing in the 80s, it’s undeniable that his vision for speed and passion for boating is still being realized today.