1906 APBA Gold Cup
Chippewa Bay, Thousand Islands, NY,  Aug. 20-23, 1906

Gold Challenge Cup Races Of The
American Power Boat Association
by Walter M. Bieling

The Gold Cup
Chip May Lose Gold Cup
Chip II Keeps Power Boat Cup
An Echo of the Gold Challenge Cup Races
Gold Challenge Cup Races of the American Power Boat Association
The Gold Challenge Cup Races
Another Editorial
Even More Editorials

When Chip I, representing the Chippewa Y.C., defeated Invlese, the Riverton Y.C. representative, by only two seconds in the last race of the series last year, the Riverton people immediately decided to challenge for the cup again this year, and did so, naming Sparrow, owned ny C. J. Swain, of Philadelphia, but who spends his Summers on the river, again came to the front with a defender, Chip II, and a race for the Gold Cup was assured. Under the 1906 rules of the association, it was freely stated by experts that it was very doubtful if a two-stroke engine would be found in any one of the boats this year. Their surprise may be imagined when it was learned that Herbert J. Leighton, the well-known builder of the engine bearing his name, had equipped Chip II with a two-stroke engine rating under the rule, only 16.75-h.p. As Chip II was kept well under cover, it was impossible to get a line on her performance or learn the characteristics of her new type of engine, which, according to the local talent, was something wonderful. Owing to the fact that a protest was made against this engine and the matter referred to the executive committee of the association for action, it would be well, perhaps, to reserve the opinions expressed concerning this engine. However, a brief description, which was given the writer by Mr. Leighton himself, will be of interest.

Appreciating the fact, Mr. Leighton stated, that the two-stroke engine of ordinary type would be penalized severely under the 1906 rules of the association; he built the engine described herewith. The engine is a two-stroke machine of two explosive cylinders with four-inch bore and ten-inch stroke, the outfit weighing in the neighborhood of 650 pounds and operated during the races at from 650 to 700 r.p.m. Thus far, the engine, with the exception of the long stroke, differs little in design from many other two-stroke engines. But on the front of the engine is another cylinder operated from the crank-shaft and equipped with a double-acting pump which Mr. Leighton states is used merely as an air compressor, the engine being of the open base type. This cylinder, or pump, or whatever the inventor may desire to have it called, is of 6 1/2inch bore by 6-inch stroke, with intake at top and bottom from pipe connected with carburetor and with outlets at top and bottom, the top outlet leading to the top of the forward cylinder and the bottom outlet leading to the top of the after cylinder, there being check valves in the tops of both explosive cylinders as well as in the inlets of the air compressor and also midway in each pipe leading to the explosive cylinders. Further than this the inventor would not discuss the engine. For its size, the rig is about the noisiest that has ever been turned out, the exhaust being something terrific. The hull of Chip II, while of very clean lines and speedy appearance, has no abnormal features and has the general characteristics of many other of the St. Lawrence River speed boats.

Sparrow, the challenging craft, was designed and built by E. H. Godshalk & Co., who last year, built the hull and engine of Invlese, the runner up to Chip I. Sparrow is very similar in design to many other of the Godshalk speed boats, having considerable flare forward, flat run and a square transom stern. Although capable of about 21-22 miles an hour, Sparrow resembles a type of medium speed family launch. She has a large open cockpit, in the forward end of which the engine is situated; aft of it are accommodations for four or five people and every race day she brought a crowd over to the races. She originally was designed to be equipped with a four-cylinder, four-stroke Godshalk-Giant engine, but owing to the fact that the engine was not finished in time, a 4-cylinder Packard engine rating under the rules at 31.8-h.p., was installed, the boat being run up through the canals to the St. Lawrence under her own power.

Seventeen entries in all were received by the committee, but only twelve actually showed up, and several of these at the last moment, causing the official measurer and regatta committee considerable trouble in measuring the boats before the start. The course was the same as last year, 26.05 knots or 30 statute miles in length, this being twice around the course of fifteen miles, which gave two straight-away runs of six miles on each leg, with the turns at a radius of a half-mile. The course is entirely free from obstruction of any sort. The water is at least twenty feet deep at the shallowest part of the course and at no time were the boats interfered with, in any way, by the fleet of yachts witnessing the races.

The race was the fourth for the Gold Challenge Cup, which was brought up to the St. Lawrence in 1904 by Vingt-et-Un II. Last year it was challenged for by the Thousand Islands Y.C., and this year as above described. The committee in charge of the racing was composed of W. W. Welch, representing the Riverton Y.C., S. Gilbert Averill, represent- ing the Chippewa Bay Y.C., and Horace W. Avery, of Detroit, as the third member and chairman of the committee. Theodore D. Wells, of New York, who was to have been on the committee, failed to show up and Mr. Avery was chosen by the other two members to fill the vacancy.

On the afternoon of the day previous to the first race, the outlook for a successful race was rather dubious. Half of the boats entered had not arrived, but at the last moment, several arrived together and were measured, and just before dusk a commotion was heard up the river and the long looked for Dixie, which had been reported as stranded on some siding between New York and Ogdensburg, arrived at top speed. She was quickly measured and the racing sheets showed a total of twelve boats measured out of the seventeen entered. During the afternoon a very unfortunate mishap occurred to Eureka, owned by J. D. Reed and entered from the Gananoque Y.C. Eureka was lying at the dock and her owner was requested to speed her up and down to satisfy the curiosity of some of the onlookers. This was done with the result that while going by the float at top speed, her crankshaft snapped and she was out of the race for good. The conditions for power boat racing on the after- noon of the 21st, on which day the first race of the series took place, were perfect. The river was absolutely smooth, the sun shone brightly and there was just enough breeze stirring to make the weather pleasant. Rear-Commodore W. H. Post kindly placed his S. Y. Karma at the disposal of the committee and she took up her position at the starting line. About half an hour before the start, Clarence A. Godshalk, helmsman of Sparrow, on behalf of C. J. Swain, owner of the boat, handed to the Regatta Committee a protest against the rating of Chip, based on the fact of her being equipped with three cylinders, whereas but two had been measured by the official measurer, Earnest A. Serrell. The committee received the protest, which was later given due consideration.

At 2:30 P.M. the starting gun was fired and Chip II, having the lowest rating, started for the line, her exhaust making a noise like a gatling gun in full operation. As she was some distance from the line, she lost fifteen seconds and went off down the course at a speed of approximately twenty miles an hour. Sparrow, the second boat to start, allowed Chip a handicap of nine minutes and twenty-six seconds. She got over the line for a fine start, the best of the day. There was over fifteen minutes between Sparrow and Guess Again, the third boat, and she got off at 2:54:39 for a good start, losing only about five or six seconds. A minute and a half later Jewel started and lost thirteen seconds getting over. Jewel excited considerable comment, as she is of the roomy, comfortable, family type, and in no sense a racer as the term as commonly understood. Vingt-Trois went over next, nine seconds late, followed by Tornado which craft made a very poor start. Eureka did not start, having been unable to make repairs, and at 3:07:57 Panhard II made a miserable attempt at starting, getting off late, drifting about the starting line and finally being towed in by one of the local "put-puts." The next three boats to start, So Long II, Dixie and Triton, were all equipped with engines of exactly the same general dimensions, rating at 132.72-h.p. Much was expected from this trio and it was certainly though that one of them would win the cup for the best three days' performance, presented by Com. Englis. So Long and Dixie had but fifty-two seconds between them in the allowance and Triton, the scratch boat, gave Dixie forty-four seconds. Triton was built last year, to be equipped with a four-stroke, eight-cylinder Leighton engine, but the engine not being finished in time, she was not brought out until this Spring. The engine in this craft is of very peculiar form, there being eight distinct pistons with but four explosion chambers. The engine drives twin screws, the pistons being set at such angles toward the center of the boat, that they meet in a common explosion chamber, each explosion driving a pair of pistons, instead of one, as in the ordinary type. With the exception of Triton, the last three got off in good style; Triton going over five seconds before the gun, was disqualified, but continued down the course. Before the last boats had been sent away Chip and Sparrow came by on their first round, Chip at 3.18.13 having taken forty-eight minutes and thirteen seconds for the fifteen miles, with Sparrow two minutes and thirty-six seconds behind her, having gained considerably on her allowance. Twenty-eight minutes later Jewel came by, having passed Guess Again and a few minutes later Vingt-Trois passed Guess Again and led her over the line for the first round by six seconds. Tornado went by at 3.44.11 and later broke down and failed to finish. Vingt-et-Un II went by five minutes later and then Dixie, having passed So Long II, led her over the line by two minutes and forty-eight seconds. All the boats still in the race having completed one round, interest centered in the finish between Chip II and Sparrow, as nothing short of a break down could enable the boats of high rating to win, and, when a craft was seen to round Cedar Island, speculation was rife as to her identity. It was soon discovered that the craft was Sparrow, and, barring accident, she must win, which she did, beating Chip II by one minute and twelve seconds, having taken one hour, forty-two minutes and fourteen seconds for the thirty miles. Jewel finished third, beating Dixie by only nine seconds for the place. Vingt-Trois was next, followed by Vingt-et-Un II, Guess Again and So Long II in the order named. Chip II returned to the boathouse in which she was kept housed and Sparrow continued to the float, where, it was learned, that on the first round, shortly after the start, the high-tension wire of the magneto in some way became broken and the engineer, Mr. Mull, lay on his back for over twenty-five miles, holding the wire in place to make a contact, it being impossible, under the circumstances, to make even a temporary repair. Naturally, owing to the rolling of the boat and the cramped position, Mr. Mull several times received severe shocks, and at the finish of the race was temporarily paralyzed in one of his arms. That it required considerable nerve to perform this feat there can be no doubt.

There was but six minutes and thirty-six seconds between the times of all the boats with the exception of the first two to finish, who, as stated before, were within one minute and twelve seconds of each other. Although considerable dissatisfaction was expressed by several of the contestants after the race against the manner in which the present rule works out, it is remarkable, nevertheless, that eight boats of different size, horse-power and type could race over a 30-mile course and finish only six and one-half minutes apart.

A comparison of the times at the end of the first day's race showed pretty conclusively that, barring accident, the Gold Cup would be won by either Chip II or Sparrow, and the local talent was absolutely sure that despite the fact that Sparrow had won, Chip II would turn the tables on the morrow and eventually win the cup, and were quite willing to back up their opinion with real money.

The weather continued fine and the second race, on Wednesday, August 22nd, was started under perfect conditions. Chip II got off thirteen seconds late, followed by Sparrow eight seconds late, which was caused partly by the report of a gun on a steam yacht which anchored near the line. Sparrow came tearing up to the start, but was halted and finally got over for a loss. By accident one of the committee fired the gun for Guess Again slightly ahead of time, so that when she crossed the line she was exactly on time, the only start in the three days' racing with a loss of less than five seconds. Jewel miscalculated the time and went over half a minute behind her gun. Vingt-Trois made a fairly good start and Tornado failed to show up at all. Panhard again went through some unusual antics. She was towed out to the start and lay directly on the line behind her tow boat. She was finally towed away from the line and when her gun went at 3.07.57, she was fully a half-mile away towing towards the line. She finally got over at 3.20 and was later towed in disabled. So Long II and Dixie got off in fairly good style, but Triton failed to start. Chip II went by on her first round at 3.18.28, having beaten her previous day's time ny four minutes and forty-five seconds for the fifteen miles and was six minutes and forty-one seconds ahead of Sparrow. Sparrow crossed the line shortly before Dixie started and was somewhat handicapped by the wash of Dixie. Jewel again was the third boat on the first round, followed by Guess Again and Vingt-Trois. Vingt-et-Un II came by again in good style at 3.50.12 followed by Dixie, which craft had again passed So Long II. Chip II finished the race at 3.57.01, beating Sparrow three minutes and forty-six seconds and making the course in five minutes and fifty-one seconds better than the day before. Jewel again got third place, beating in Dixie by only five seconds. Vingt-Trois was next followed by Vingt-et-Un II, So Long II and Guess Again.

The attendance was somewhat diminished at the end of the second race and more so at the beginning of the third and last race, which was started in a stiff wind and sea. It blew so hard that the committee boat was not used, owing to the fact that it was impossible to keep her in a steady position at the line, so the committee retired to the dock. Only six boats showed up and were started on their regular time. Chip II making a poor start twenty-seven seconds late. Sparrow making a good start under the circumstances, being but eight seconds behind the gun. Guess Again making a poor start and Jewel twenty-five seconds late. Vingt-Trois got off for a fine start, So Long II also went over the line but she and Vingt-Trois dropped out on account of the heavy sea on the first round. Dixie failed to start, her owner stating that there was too much sea for him. Chip II completed the first round at 3.16.17, twenty-three minutes and forty seconds ahead of Sparrow, Mr. Leighton, her designer and builder of engine, driving her along in wonderful style through the stiff sea. She was entirely once slowed down, although at times she was entirely obscured by spray and it looked to the spectators as if she would never come up again. Sparrow was handicapped by having lost her hood and having to slow down to be bailed out. Jewel came by at 3.51.57 and Guess Again at 4.12.53, Jewel having much the best time of all the boats, it being just her weather. On the final round both Chip II and Sparrow were driven to the limit, despite the fact that Chip's spray hood was smashed in by the heavy sea and Sparrow was half full of water. The race would have been a close one had Sparrow not slowed down on the first round, as was proved on the final round, that, being half full of water, did not materially retard her speed.

Chip II finished at 4.05.40, only eight minutes and thirty-nine seconds slower than her best performance in the three days' races, which is really a remarkable record. Sparrow was beaten twenty-three minutes and twenty seconds. Jewel again finished third with Guess Again last, at 5.05.43 just about one hour behind Chip II, Chip II having beaten her on actual time twenty-six minutes and twenty-eight seconds over the course. Immediately after the race the committee had a meeting and the measurer, Ernest Serrell, remeasured Chip, including the cylinder in question, or pump, or whatever it may be called, and although the measurer took the top of the cylinder off and measured same, it was not included in his calculations, at which action the majority of the committee took umbrage, with the result that the various members being unable to agree, the meeting was adjourned without action, and on the following day the majority of the committee formulated a recapitulation of their views of the facts in the case and forwarded same to the executive committee of the American Power Boat Association for final decision and action, with the recommendation that the Gold Challenge Cup be placed in the custody of the A.P.B.A. until said executive committee shall have made a decision and award. The letter of the members of the Regatta Committee to the Executive Committee of the American Power Boat Association reads as follows:

"The Race Committee who officiated at the Chippewa Y.C. races for the A.P.B.A. Gold Challenge Cup, held August 21, 22 and 23, desire to lay before the Executive Committee of the association the following facts regarding the races: "At 2 P.M. on the 21st inst., Mr. C. A. Godshalk, representing Mr. C. J. Swain, the owner of Sparrow, handed to the race committee the enclosed protest. At a meeting of said committee, to which the interested parties of both boats (Chip II and Sparrow), as well as the secretary of the A.P.B.A., had been requested to appear, all did appear, excepting the secretary of the A.P.B.A., and after a full and impartial hearing of both sides of the question, the protest was sustained by a vote of two to one. "The representatives of both boats were immediately notified of the decision, and the representative of the owner of Chip II was instructed to present said boat for remeasurement the next day. The measurer of the C.Y.C. was instructed to remeasure said boat according to the sustained protest. This was not done until after the next and last race (Aug. 23), which was run on the original handicaps and measurements, which a majority of the committee had declared in violation of Section four and eight of Rule II. The measurer measured Chip II again, and informed the committee that he refused to comply with the instructions given him by the committee to give the boat a new rating. It is the opinion of the majority of this committee, that, owing to either incom- petancy or the desire to evade the issue in question, on the part of the measurer, that this refusal was made. In view of these facts, this committee finds it impossible to make an award of the Gold Cup. We feel that we are justified in the conclusion that a distinct violation of pure sportsmanship has occurred. We feel that the rating of Chip II is unfair, owing to the fact of there being an extra cylinder and piston, which was not measured on her engine. According to the terms of Racing Rule I, all of paragraph 1 and line 7 to line 12 inclusive, of paragraph 2, article IV, of the Deed of Trust, line 7 to end of paragraph, and all of article X of the Deed of Trust, we deem it our duty to lay this matter before your executive committee for consideration and action, with the recommendation that the Gold Challenge Cup be placed in custody of the A.P.B.A. until said Executive Committee shall have made a decision and award."

(Transcribed from Power Boat News, Sep. 1, 1906, pp. 481-486. )

[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page. —LF]

Hydroplane History Home Page
This page was last revised Thursday, April 01, 2010 .
Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. Email us at wildturnip@gmail.com
Leslie Field, 2000