Southend-on-Sea, a summer town on the south east coast of England that relies on summer dollars,well, pounds actually. The Daily Jaws had already profiled the fantastic hand built work of huge Jaws fan Ron Hawes, who had built a four foot long radio controlled replica of Orca, Quint’s famous boat -that needed to be bigger - from Jaws.
It’s as iconic as its captain, Brody, Hooper or Bruce and is instantly recognisable, even when it is racing round the pond at Southchurch Park, which is where The Daily Jaws’ Chief Writer, Dean Newman, was lucky enough to meet the man and his machine, which he built from scratch over a period of six months.
And Jaws fans around the world were already suitably impressed with Ron’s handiwork , The Daily Jaws followers on Twitter commented ‘best I’ve seen in this vicinity’ to ‘OMG this is absolutely fantastic’, whilst Meg author Steve Alten called it ‘amazing craftsmanship’.
Even from a distance Ron was easy to spot, not just because of his extremely apt Quint’s Sea Fishing t-shirt but because at his feet, sitting proud on a handmade trolley, was Orca. Obviously my sense of size is about as good as Matt Hooper’s. He underestimated how big a Great White is and I had underestimated just how big the boat was from pulpit to stern.
Sure, I’d seen it on photos that Ron had supplied for this previous article, You’re not gonna need a bigger boat, but this was far bigger than I had imagined. It was also impressive in detail, from interior to chum bucket at the back of the boat.
Even before I started filming Ron and Orca in action his work was gaining interest from peoplepassing by or sat on nearby benches, many guessing or asking if that was the boat from Jaws. It wasa beautiful sunny day for filming, almost fourth of July like, you could say.
The footage didn’t disappoint, you couldn’t help but hear the ‘Great Chase’ music from John Williams when filming Orca cutting through the water, getting up quite a speed. There was no danger of Ron burning the engine out like Quint of course, in fact Ron said that once charged it could go most of the day.
Unlike the video suggests, this Chief did finally get to drive the boat and it was great to finally get behind the ‘wheel’ of this cinematic icon, all that was missing was a barrel to chase.When Orca did come back out of the water, just like its onscreen inspiration it too had taken on water. We didn’t put our life jackets on either.
Footage and interview in the can I bid farewell and adieu to Ron, but even when he was taking Orca back to his car (not too fah from the pahk) a man came running into the park out of breath saying“My wife told me the boat from Jaws was in the park, I just had to come down and see it.”That’s the everlasting power and draw of Jaws and the commitment of its fans. After gaining a new legion of fans, one imagines that Ron might be in for a busier summer than normal of sharkin’ on the pond.
Now, just to find someone with a remote control Great White Shark….
By Dean Newman
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