In recognition of his positive contributions to the classic and collector boat lifestyle, Terry Fiest has been selected as the newest member of the Hagerty Marine Hall of Fame. His induction was announced March 25th at the Antique & Classic Boat Society’s (ACBS) Sunnyland Antique Boat Festival.
Fiest, who moved to Orlando more than 20 years ago, has been the chairman of Florida’s Sunnyland Antique Boat Festival for 19 years, is an accomplished show judge, and is the go-to person for anything related to Chris-Craft Cobras. He says his affection for wooden boats intensified when his father bought one in 1950 and the two restored it in the family garage.
Joining the U.S. Army after high school graduation, Fiest served as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and reached the rank of Colonel during a 28-year military career. But he never lost his sea legs.
In 1979, he purchased a 19-foot 1959 Century Resorter at Lake of the Ozarks, south of his then-home in Maryville, Mo., where he ran Northwest Missouri State’s ROTC program. He restored the boat before being transferred to Hampton, Va., just a short distance from the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News. It was there that he befriended Tom Crew, Chris-Craft archivist for the museum. The two often traveled together, and Fiest’s boat focus turned to Chris-Crafts. He eventually purchased a rare Cobra and researched it for three years before diving into a 20-month restoration.
After Terry retired from the military, he and his wife of 50-plus years, Bobbie, moved to central Florida in 1995. Terry soon joined the Sunnyland Chapter of the ACBS and volunteered to help with the chapter’s annual boat show. Two years later he was named event chairman, and he elevated the show to new heights: The Sunnyland Antique Boat Festival is now the largest classic boat festival in the country.