1906 Hudson River Water Carnival
Hudson River, New York, September 10-15, 1906

The National Carnival
From the Viewpoint of Experience and the Development of the Racing Sport
by W. P. Stephens

Real Motor Boat Records Possible at Last to Secure Authentic Standards for America

Motor Boats to Race for Records and Cups

More Boats in Long Run

Fast Motor Boat Afire at End of Run

Motor Boats in Six Races

Two Drown in Hudson

Dixie Leads Motor Boats

Motor Boats Divide Prizes

Motor Boat Races on the Hudson

The Carnival

Motor Boat Rating Needs Radical Change

Motor Boat Club of America Week

The Reliability Trials

Long-Distance Race to Poughkeepsie and Return

Carnival of the M.B.C. of America

The National Carnival


The carnival must be considered not as a big local regatta, but as the one great event of the motor-boat year; the final summing up of the season's work, both as sport and in its more serious technical aspects. Coming at the very end of the season, and held at such a central point as New York, it should be at once the grand finale for which all local events throughout the country from May to September have served as trial heats, and at the same time a national exposition of what is new and good in the season's development. Looking at the rather unsatisfactory results, it is consoling to believe that it has not yet reached its full development as a national institution, rather than that as such it has failed to show that progress which might be expected at the present stage of motor-boating.

In point of numbers the week's meeting was notably deficient, less than thirty boats taking part; an inconsequential part of the motor-boat fleet of New York City alone. in outside representation, too, the display was disappointing; the little Durno again made the long voyage from Rochester; Standard, now a fresh water boat, also came down from the St. Lawrence; Boston sent Mercedes U.S.A., again, and the Delaware was represented by a single boat; for the rest, the representation was merely local. In point of type, also, the display was deficient; there is a good cause for congratulation in that the flimsy, fragile, fall-apart type of auto-boat which predominated a couple of years ago is no longer seen, and that the highest speeds are made by such substantial hulls as Artful, the rebuilt Standard, Skedaddle (Onontio) and Dixie, but, on the other hand, there was a notable absence of the most useful type of power launch, the fast cabin boat of moderate size.

There is no type of craft afloat today in which a man can get as much yachting, for his family as well as himself, in as little time and for as low a cost, as in the properly designed cruising launch of thirty to sixty feet length and from ten to fifteen knots speed. The smaller of these boats require no paid hand and may be made to give comfortable living room for two or three persons on a long cruise; the larger, with one paid hand or at most a man and boy, will accommodate a party of half a dozen for the summer. Designed, built and engined according to modern ideas, they are capable of anything short of an open sea voyage. The type is already developed to a very satisfactory point and is improving each year; it exists in considerable numbers, and in view of the liberal prizes it should have been well represented, but it was not. The only class which was adequately filled was the smallest speed class, under 40 feet length, in which were a dozen starters.

Reversing the order established by the National Association of Engine and Boat manufacturers, and giving precedence to the hull rather than the engine and to designing rather than manufacturing, it is interesting to note that the best performance of the week was that of a hull now in its fourth season, and a design which is notably free from freak features. Standard, with a new record back of her of a speed of 25.45 knots, is a plain, wholesome, everyday design, thoroughly in accordance with established principles of naval architecture, with no tricks nor evasions to cheat any rule, and disfigured by no meaningless freak figures. Though displacing more than in her earlier races, her speed has increased from year to year, until, with a new engine, it has placed her at the top. The construction of the Standard is original and skillful, the planking on the ribband-carvel system, with a double series of frames on the inside as well as the outside of the longitudinal ribbands, giving strength and rigidity with light weight. A serious error was made in using very wide planking, 8 to 12 inches, for the 1/4 inch mahogany of the skin and deck, with the inevitable results of the under-water planking swelling and buckling and the decks checking, until at the end of her first season the boat looked to be in very bad shape. Last winter she was placed in the hands of that clever doctor "Joe" Leyare, od Ogdensburg, who laid a second thickness of 1/4 inch mahogany over the original skin, making a total thickness of 1/2 inch and giving a fair smooth surface. At the same time her engine, the first of the big light Standards, the six-cylinder, 100 horsepower with compressed air starting and reversing attachment, was replaced by a still newer type of double-acting engine of greatly increased horsepower.

Skedaddle, another boat of wholesome and conventional model, was launched in 1904, under the name of Onontio and made some fast runs in the fall of that year, though never timed in a race. Last year through a change of ownership she was out of commission, and her big eight-cylinder Craig engine was sold and installed in a cruising launch. This spring she was purchased by Mr. H. N. Baruch, of New York, who renamed her, and Mr. Craig built for her a new engine on the general plan of the old, but with six instead of eight cylinders, each 9 by 10 1/2 inches, instead of 7 3/4 by 9 inches. Unfortunately the engine was not ready until the end of the season, and the boat went into the Carnival races without thorough trial and time for the perfect adjustment of the machinery.

Artful, the time winner of the long-distance race, is a new boat this year, designed by Charles L. Seabury and built by the Gas Engine & Power and the Seabury Co., for Mr. Payne Whitney; a high speed day boat in use by her owner through the season. She is 70 feet over all; 68 feet on the water line; 8 feet 3 inches in breadth and 3 feet draught, with twin Speedway engines, each six-cylinder, 6 1/2 by 8 inches. She is, of course, of a good able model and staunch construction, racing being a secondary consideration to her every-day use.

In size and arrangement Artful, Standard and Skedaddle may be classed as pleasure launches rather than racing machines, as they have the displacement and cockpit space for quite a party of passengers; in this respect they differ from both Dixie and XPDNC, that have only space for helmsman and engineer. These latter boats are already known from their performances of 1905 and 1904-5, respectively; for the type of racing auto-boat they are of sensible and moderate design, intended solely for speed, but lacking some of the extremes and features and serious defects of others of their type. Each still has her original engine; the eight-cylinder Simplex in Dixie, and the four-cylinder Mercedes in XPDNC.

Two new boats in this class were Irene and Vesuvius, the former designed and built by J. S. Sheppard, of Edsington, Pa. This boat, though evidently very fast, had a wholesome, shipshape appearance that was most gratifying; though obviously light in hull, she looked like a well-built service launch, with a substantial workmanlike finish to the woodwork. So far as the hull was visible when afloat, the design was simple and sensible, there being no evidence of freak features. Vesuvius, built to show the new Hurd & Haggin engines, is a racing launch of generally good model, with liberal freeboard and fair lines.

In the smaller classes, Sparrow is too all appearances a comfortable and roomy little semi-speed boat, such as have been built in numbers during the past three years for fast running with a party of five or six, rather than racing. Her work, however, during the Carnival and previously on the St. Lawrence, shows her to be very fast for her rating, especially in view of the large area of midship section. She is well built and both strong and light in hull. Simplex VI is another of the large Smith & Mabley family, 31 feet on the water line, with a four-cylinder motor of 32 horsepower. Den I, the C. F. Herreshoff boat, was described last year, a racing boat of the general model of XPDNC; Split-the-Wind, owned by F. L. Herreshoff, is a model similar to her larger sisters.

Elco is one of the high-speed day launches introduced within the past year by the Electric Launch Co.; intended for pleasure use at much higher speeds than the old open launches and yet without the discomfort of the true auto-boat; just under 40 feet in length, she has a Seitz engine of 56 horsepower, four cylinders, 6 by 6 inches. Most of the other boats were known by their performances in the past and call for no special mention. In point of construction there was nothing new or deserving of special comment.

The original engine of the Standard was as much a novelty as the boat herself when first introduced four seasons ago; it marked a departure from the almost universal practice of the day in the abandonment of the enclosed cast iron crank-case for the open base with light steel standards and the general features of the steam torpedo-boat engine; the adoption of six cylinders instead of four, then the usual limit, and the use of compressed air for starting and reversing. With this engine as a starting point, the Riotte brothers have advanced rapidly into higher powers and still more improved machines, the latest point of development being reached in the engine which has this year displaced the original one. Nominally of 300 horsepower at 300 revolutions, instead of but 100, she has six cylinders, each 10 by 10 inches, and double-acting, like a steam engine. The water cooling, commonly limited to the cylinder walls and heads and the valve chambers, is extended to include the pistons, piston rods and the valves themselves. In addition, all the valves are mechanically operated and balanced and the compressed air system is extended to include an extra cylinder which operates to shift the valve shaft for the starting and reversing. The flywheel, which was materially reduced in size and weight in the first engine, has disappeared entirely, being no longer necessary when there are twelve separate impulses to each revolution of the crank shaft. The lubricating system has been doubly improved in that, thanks to the efficient water cooling of all parts, less oil is necessary, and at the time an unfailing supply is assured through a positive pump feed to every important point. On the individual merits as a powerful, reliable and economical engine, it marks an important advance; and, what is of hardly less importance, it opens the way to a far more extensive use of the explosion engine in maritime practice than has thus far been possible.

The one other novelty of the year, the two-cycle, compressed mixture engine, designed by H. J. Leighton for Chip II, was not present; of the conventional type of four-stroke marine engines there were two new examples in the Hurd & Haggin and the Chadwick. The former, installed in Vesuvius, was seen and described last spring as a feature of the New York Motor Boat Show, a well designed engine of compact form and low gravity with some good mechanical features. The Chadwick engine, built by the Fairmont Engineering Works, of Philadelphia, for automobile use, is a four-cylinder engine with cylinders 8 by 7 inches, rated at 100 horsepower. a pair of these engines drove the screws of the Irene, making with the hull a very perfect combination; unfortunately the boat was wrecked by floating driftwood before she had a chance to prove her speed and endurance.

The program for this year was more extensive and varied than that of 1905, including a series of reliability trials in addition to the flying mile and kilometer, the long distance race, and the several heats for the association cups. Owing to the small number of competitors, but nine in all, the reliability trials proved of comparatively little importance, either from the standpoint of the spectator or in their bearing on hull and engine design; but they served to introduce a new and useful feature in power boat competition from which, under proper management, valuable results may be obtained in the future. Such tests should appeal specially to that rather numerous class of launch owners who, ignoring the illusive and unsatisfactory temptations of auto-boat racing, aspire to the possession of a usable type of craft with a comparatively high speed, and take a pride and pleasure in keeping their boats in the highest possible condition. Where the doubtful honors of the auto-boat class are obtained only by the sacrifice of all ordinary pleasure service and the expenditure of unlimited time and money, rewards of a reliability test are open to all who habitually maintain their craft in proper condition and by skill and good handling develop the best work of which hull and engine are capable.

It is worthy to note that, while everyone wishes to go as fast as possible, there are fewer attempts than in 1904 and 1905 at the highest possible speed regardless of other considerations, the racing machines being in the minority compared with those launches intended for more general use. had the hopes and expectations of designers and builders been fully realized in the attainment of the phenomenal speeds so often claimed, there might be some justification for the retention of the racing auto-boat, but, in view of the enormous percentage of total failures in this class, launches having proved themselves to be in the 20-mile class or even lower instead of the boasted 30-mile and over, it is gratifying to note that the building of such craft has largely stopped; the efforts of designers, builders and owners are now directed mainly to development of relatively high speeds in launches having some claim to seaworthiness and general usefulness.

In one sense the Carnival, in spite of its nominally national scope, has proved to be almost entirely a local affair; but at the same time it may be taken as indicative of the general progress and tendencies of power boating throughout the country. The racing machine is attracting less attention by far than in the previous three years; but at the same time there is no diminution of the effort to develop higher and higher speed in nearly all classes of launches. In designing there is a general prevalence of safer and saner ideals and ideas; men are looking for a better type than the racing machine, and they are adopting intelligent means of obtaining it. There is less of the wild and senseless chasing after freak ideas, and much more attention is paid to those basic principles of design and construction that have been established by the experience of generations in naval architecture and marine engineering. if there have been no sensational developments and no marvelous records within the year, it has at least much to be thankful for that there have been fewer conspicuous failures than in any year since the first outbreak of the auto-boat craze.

The day has gone by when speed was neither looked for nor demanded by the average launch owner; when any sort of a tub could be sold through the means of nickel plate and varnish. The demand is for fast boats in every size and type, but this demand is qualified by the general recognition of the fact that extreme high speed, even if obtained, is dearly paid for by the sacrifice of all other qualities. That this demand is recognized by the majority of designers and builders of both hulls and engines is shown alike by the specially successful examples in various types and sizes produced in the past two years, and by the marked improvement in the average representative of each. There are not only a limited number of exceptionally good launches, but a very large and rapidly growing number of boats that in speed, appearance, accommodation and seaworthiness are very much above the average of five years ago. While it may seem at first glance that the year which closed with the Carnival has brought less than might have been expected in the way of advancement in power boating, a closer study of the situation will show that a great advance has been made in that the auto-boat craze has at least run its full course, giving place to racing of a more reasonable sort; and in the line of material progress there has been a generally wholesome development of various types of hulls and engines.

(Transcribed from Boating, November 1906, pp. 371-376. )

[Stephens, the boating pragmatist, could not admit that the thirst for speed on water would not be satisfied with a fine cruiser of high speed. A very different focus on the verities of the pure racer would be apparent in another five years, after Dixie would take and hold the Harmsworth Trophy until that famous name would pass away. - GWC]

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

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