APBA Formation

Rating for Motor Boats

Rules Adopted for Classification and Racing

American Power Boat Association Permanently Organized by Delegates From Many Yacht Clubs

Representatives from over a dozen yacht clubs met last night at the Columbia Yacht Clubhouse, foot of West Eighty-sixth Street, and discussed matters of importance relating to the future racing and classification of motor boats. The Motor Boat Association, which was practically formed a month ago at the same place, was made permanent, but it was voted to change the name to the American Power Boat Association. W. H. Ketcham, Chairman of the Regatta Committee of the Columbia Yacht Club, presided, and among some of the delegates present were H. J. Gielow, Atlantic Yacht Club; A. B. Cole, Manhasset; Dr. E. Sherwood and R. M. Haddock, Shattemuck, Ossining; A. W. Kranich, Passaic River; W. S. Howard, Shenandoah, Troy; W. P. Clason, Lake George Racing Association; Rodman Sands, Knickerbocker; Frederick Noch, Rhode Island Yacht Club; W. H. Ketcham, John H. McIntosh, and J. H. Cote, Columbia Yacht Club. Other clubs who sent promises to join the organization were Indian Harbor, Horseshoe, Hempstead, Harlem, Albany, American, and Newark.

The two committees appointed at the previous meeting presented their reports, which were adopted, and then considerable discussion over some of their provisions followed. B. F. Jones of the Indian Harbor Club submitted the report on constitution and by-laws; and H. J. Gielow read the report on classification and rating. The latter provoked the greatest discussion. The constitution provides that the purpose of the new organization is to regulate and control racing with motor boats, and to encourage improvements in designing and building in that class. The general character of the association is similar to the Marine Motor Association of Great Britain, and its constitution and powers are approximately the same as those of the Long Island Sound Yacht Racing Association.

A system of classification and a rating rule were decided upon. Owners of motor boats, who up to this time have not been able to compete in races on account of lack of a handicapping rule, expressed themselves as greatly pleased by reason of the prospect of good racing after their boats have been rated and classified according to the new rule.

The measurement rules differ from those of the Marine Motor Association of Great Britain, by which a boat's rating is determined by multiplying the over-all length by the motor power and dividing by the area of the immersed mid-section in square feet. In Great Britain, however, the horse power of the motor boats bears more or less a fixed relation to the size of the vessel, and is comparatively small, but Mr. Gielow did not think that the British rule would be adequate to determine a rating for American boats, where large horse powers are common, and which bear no relation whatever to the dimensions of the craft. The rule he devised, and which was adopted last night, is:

"Boats shall berated for classification and time allowance by a rating which shall be determined by taking fifteen times the cube root of the square root of the load water line multiplied by the horse power and divided by the area of the middle section."

The length of the load water line and the area of the midship section are determined in the accepted way, and the horse power shall be obtained as follows:

Steam--To be calculated by the standard formula for indicated horse power.

Electricity--To be calculated at the rate of 950 watts to equal one horse power.

Gasoline Explosive Engines--To be calculated by multiplying the area of one piston in square inches by the number of cylinders, multiplied by the stroke in feet, multiplied by the number of revolutions per minute, divided by a constant of 1,000 for four cycle and 600 for two cycle engines.

The time allowance tables are based on a theoretical calculation of the speed of a properly designed boat, and the figures Mr. Gielow obtained in that way he checked from actual data in regard to the speed of boats of all dimensions and power, ranging from a 16-foot two horse power motor boat to a 160-foot torpedo boat. The rating represents the relative speed of two boats. For instance, a 30-rating boat will travel 30 feet in the same time that a 35-rating boat will travel 35 feet.

All racing motor boats are by the classification rule put in two divisions, in the first being the cabin boats, and in the second the open launches and hunting boats. In the first division the classes run from A to G. Class A comprising all over 50 feet in length, the others being the 40, 32, 26, 21, and 17 foot classes. The second division is similarly divided in respect to lengths, and the classes are designated from H to N. All boats must carry life buoys on deck, and in a race the number of persons on board shall not exceed the number required to steer the boat and run the machinery, and one extra person if required.

Any yacht club with a membership of fifty or more is eligible for membership in the American Power Boat Association. The representation at the annual meetings will be based on one delegate to every one hundred of the club's membership, but no club will be allowed to have over five delegates. A nominating committee was appointed to draw up a ticket for election at a future meeting.

(Transcribed from the New York Times - - 26 Feb. 1903. p. 10. )

[As a post-script, I should mention that the rules of rating and handicapping came under close scrutiny by 1905 and severe criticism by 1907, with lengthy articles and editorials in the New York Times. -GC]

[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in the preparation of this page. -LF]


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Leslie Field, 1999