1906 Hudson River Water Carnival
Motor Boat Races On The Hudson River
Some interesting races were held last week on the Hudson River under the auspices of the Motor Boat Club of America. The first day was given to reliability trials. In these trials a number of the smaller boats competed. Points were given for different features, such as reliability, speed, condition after trial, economy of fuel, etc. The test consisted in making as many rounds as possible on the 10¼ nautical mile course within a given time. Several boats dropped out for various causes, such as stoppage of the water circulation, lack of sufficient fuel, etc.; but the two boats which made the best record were the Simplex VI, fitted with a 30 horse-power Simplex, four-cylinder engine, and the Sparrow, another small speed boat under 33 feet in length, and fitted with a 31.8 horse power Packard four-cylinder, automobile motor. These two boats made eight and nine rounds respectively, and their best times were 41 minutes and 59 seconds, and 36 minutes and 28 seconds, the latter time corresponding to 19.43 miles an hour.
The second day's event consisted of a long distance race from New York to Poughkeepsie and back, a total distance of 115 5/8 knots, or 133.3 statute miles. Nine boats started in this event. These boats ranged from 60 to 30 feet in length, and carried engines from 200 down to about 30 horse-power. Of the nine boats which crossed the starting line at the foot of West 112th Street at 9:30 A.M., but three returned late in the afternoon. The first of these to arrive was Harry Payne Whitney's large yacht, the Artful. This boat is some 60 feet in length, and is fitted with twin screws and two 6-cylinder 6 1/2 x 8 Speedway engines. She covered the course in 6 hours, 5 minutes, and 33 seconds, or at an average speed of 21.87 miles an hour. The next arrival was the 31-horse-power Sparrow. This small craft, because of her fine lines and her reliable motor, was only 40 minutes longer than the Artful in covering the 133 miles. Her time was 6 hours, 45 minutes, and 55 seconds, corresponding to an average speed of 19.7 miles an hour. The third and last boat to finish was the 30-horse-power Simplex VI. Her time was 7 hours, 43 minutes, and 59 seconds, which corresponds to a speed of 17.33 miles an hour. This was about 16 minutes slower time than that made last year by Simplex III, which won the race.
Wednesday, September 12, was given up to speed trials for mile and kilometer records, and also a free-for-all race for the American championship. In the speed trials the Standard, a large boat equipped with a new 300-horse-power, 10 x 10, six-cylinder, double-acting Standard marine motor, made the fastest time. This boat covered a mile with the tide in 2 minutes and 10 seconds, and against the tide in 2 minutes and 34 seconds. The average figured out 25.56 knots, or 29.46 statute miles an hour. The next best mile record was made by Dixie, which is equipped with an 8-cylinder 6 1/2 x 6 3/4 engine, rated at 132.72 horse-power. This boat made the mile with an against tide in 2:35 and 2:44 respectively, or at an average speed of 22.57 knots, or 26.01 miles an hour. The XPDNC, fitted with Mercedes engines of 60.83 horse-power, made 22.22 knots, or 25.61 miles in the mile trial, and the Mercedes U.S.A., which likewise had a 60-horse-power Mercedes engine, made 19.09 knots, or 22 miles an hour. The Vesuvius, a new boat fitted with a Hurd & Haggin engine of 40 to 50 horse-power, attained a speed of 20,64 miles an hour in a mile trial. The best records for the kilometer were 1:07 and 1:37 with and against tide, made by the 300-horse-power Standard. This was an average of 1:22. By making the distance in 1:18 and 1:46 with and against tide, the 60-horse-power XPDNC attained the same average (1:32) for the kilometer as did the 132-horse-power Dixie, which covered the distance in 1:23 and 1:41 respectively.
The free-for-all race for the American championship consisted in making the three rounds of the 10 1/4 nautical mile course. But two boats succeeded in finishing the race. These were the 132-horse-power Dixie and the 190-horse-power Skedaddle. The latter 60-foot boat had a 9 x 10, 6-cylinder Craig engine, It did not succeed in making any extraordinary time, however. The race was won in 1 hour, 20 minutes, and 1 second by the Dixie, while the Skedaddle required 1 hour, 44 minutes, and 39 seconds. The Dixie averaged 23.06 knots, or 26.58 miles an hour in this race, which was 35 1/2 statute miles in length. The second day after, the Dixie ran this distance for a third time in the race for high-speed boats of 12 meters (39.37 feet) length and under, in 1 hour, 19 minutes, and 6 seconds, thus making 23.39 knots, or 26.96 miles an hour. In the race for high-speed boats of 40 feet and over, the Skedaddle won in 1 hour, 27 minutes, and 19 seconds, which corresponds to an average speed of 21.01 knots, or 24.22 miles an hour. The following day she did somewhat better, covering the 35 1/2 statute miles in 1 hour, 22 minutes, and 10 seconds, and winning from the Dixie on time allowance because of her lower rating. In the race for high-speed boats of 33 feet and under, the Sparrow won in 1 hour, 44 minutes, and 46 seconds, or at an average speed of 17.59 knots (19.27 miles) an hour. Her fastest lap was made in 34:19, or an average speed of 20.38 miles an hour.
The races were marred by an accident which occurred on Friday afternoon to Mr. L. L. Haggin's Vesuvius, and as a result of which the two men who were running this boat were drowned. The Vesuvius had trouble with her steering gear, which suddenly gave way and caused her to swerve, thus precipitating one of the men into the river. The other man attempted to rescue him, and both were drowned. On the third day of the races the steering gear of the 300 horse-power Standard broke while she was making a sharp turn, thus disabling her. These accidents seemed to show that builders of motor boats do not realize the tremendous strain put upon the steering gear of such craft when making sharp turns at such speed.
In the races which have been held no remarkable records were made. The long distance race was a fizzle, owing to the unreliability of the competing boats, and the time made by the winner was by no means comparable to the record run from Rouen to Trouville made recently in France by La Rapiere II, in which she covered the 70 miles between the two places in 2 hours, and nine minutes, or at an average speed of 32.9 miles an hour.
From the performance of the boat in this meet it would seem as if the present scheme of placing tremendous horse-power in a light hull has been pushed to its limit, and that in order to realize any increased speed, some new form of hull offering less resistance must be designed.
(Transcribed from Scientific American, Sep. 22, 1906, p. 211.)
[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page. LF]
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