1906 Larchmont Gold Cup
Larchmont Harbor, Larchmont, New York, October 12-13, 1906

Gold Cup Race At Larchmont

The races for the gold cup given several years ago by Smith & Mabley and Hollander & Tangeman to the Larchmont Yacht Club, and which were scheduled to be run off on October 12 and 13 under the auspices of that organization, proved somewhat of a frost, both as regards contestants and weather conditions. The first race was scheduled to start at 2:30 on Friday afternoon, and six entries had been made, Dixie being the challenger. At the starting time only one boat was present, Bit Bab, owned by A. J. Stone, a 36-footer equipped with a three-cylinder, two-cycle 4 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch Fairbanks motor. As under the deed of gift the cup could not be won by default, the committee decided to postpone the start in the hopes of some other contestant showing up. Sure enough, at about half past three L'Aero, a gliding boat built from designs of W. B. Motheral, and owned by S. W. Beach, came up to the float. L'Aero was designed on principles evolved by Mr. Motheral and described in THE MOTOR BOAT of July 25, 1906. She is 38 feet long over all, 36 feet on the water line, 8 feet extreme breadth at the transom and 6 feet breadth on the water line. She is equipped with a four-cylinder Lackawanna two-cycle motor of 5 inches bore and stroke and used a two-bladed propeller of 20 inches diameter and 30 inches pitch. Considerable amusement was shown by the crowd about the clubhouse float, because of the form of L'Aero and the roughness of her construction. She is essentially a home-made effort, and was built by the designer himself. No attempt was made to turn out a boat of fine appearance, but rather to demonstrate the principle upon which she was designed, and her performance, while disappointing, would seem to show that properly and carefully worked out the idea should prove to be of value.

The interest in L'Aero made up for the lack of entries, and the interest which a race for so fine a cup should bring out. Indeed, it is a pity that such a cup should not bring out the best boats of the country, but the lateness of the date doubtless accounts for this. Under the deed of gift, all entries must be in thirty days before the race, and the arrangement of a private match between two of the boats which were to run for the cup rather overshadowed the event itself. However, neither of these contestants appeared at the line. The conditions of the race specified that the cup should be won by the boat winning two races of the series. If three different boats won three successive races, a fourth race should be won off between them and the winner would take the cup. The course was from the club's starting buoy off Larchmont Harbor to a buoy off Eaton's Neck, 15 nautical miles distance and return. As Bit Bab had previously shown a speed which would enable her to cover the course in abut an hour and a half, it was decided to start the race as late as 4:30, which would give her time to get back before nightfall. The rating of Bit Bab is 72:45, and that of L'Aero was found to be 76:54, the midship section of the latter being taken at the transom, which is the greatest section and measures 2.89 square feet.

The starting gun was given at 4:47. Bit Bab got away five seconds after the gun, followed five seconds later by L'Aero. Great surprise was shown at the smooth way in which L'Aero traveled. Her maximum rate is probably about 20 miles per hour, and even when traveling at this speed there is no wake or disturbance at all. The slight difference shown at the stern is due to the influence of the rudder.

As the racers passed from sight it was noticed that Bit Bab was gradually drawing away from her rival and the outcome of the race did not seem to be in doubt. The day was ideal for racing on the Sound, as the air was beautifully clear and there was only a gentle breeze which left the water almost calm. The air was crisp and must have proved chilly for the contestants before the finish. After the start the committee settled down to await the return of the contestants, and after an hour and a quarter had elapsed, a sharp watch was kept for them. However, they failed to put in an appearance, and as the darkness settled down a whistle from the stake boat was sounded at intervals to attract their attention and signal lights were shown on both the mark boat and the committee boat. Shortly after dark the sharp, quick exhaust of Bit Bab was heard coming up the Sound, but she passed in close to the shore and made for the club float instead of coming to the committee boat to make the finish. About an hour later she came out of the harbor and rounded the stake boat, thus making an official finish at 7:34:12. Meanwhile, the exhaust of L'Aero had been heard down the Sound to the eastward, and then had died out. Apparently she had gone into some harbor east of Larchmont, and this was found to be the case, when she appeared at the clubhouse about nine o'clock. She had run out of gasolene and had gone in at Rye Beach to replentish her supply. It was also learned that Bit Bab's engineer was overcome by the fumes of the gasolene while oiling up under the closed cover over the motor, and that is was necessary to run to the float and revive him before the finish could be made. Bit Bab's crew reported that a heavy seas was encountered approaching the buoy off Eaton's Neck, and that minor troubles due to the sea delayed them so that they were unable to make their usual speed. They stated, however, that they left L'Aero before reaching the mark and did not see her again.

While the performance of L'Aero failed to demonstrate the principle upon which her hull was constructed, this does not necessarily show that the principle is incorrect, but rather that more care should have been taken in tuning the boat up before making a public demonstration. it is said that her motor was only installed the day before the race and that the propeller used was not the one ordered.

The second race, which should have been run off on Saturday morning, failed to materialize, as during the night L'Aero sprung a leak and sank, and her owner and crew were unable to raise her, clean the motor and put her in condition until too late in the afternoon to start another race. The cup, therefore, remains with the Larchmont Yacht Club to be contested for another year, and the racing season about New York for 1906 is finally ended.

(Transcribed from The Motor Boat, Oct. 25, 1906, pp. 25-26. )

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

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Leslie Field, 1999