1906 Palm Beach Regatta
The Florida Carnival
Palm Beach, Florida, Feb. 5.---Seldom has a sporting event grown from so small a beginning to a successful institution of national importance so quickly as has the Palm Beach Motorboat Carnival, which was held on Lake Worth, in front of that famous resort last week. The first meeting held last year brought out only a single Northern racer, the Challenger, together with half a dozen or so boats of Southern build, including a number of dories and other miscellaneous small craft which went into the races simply to swell the list, the whole number of entries being about fifteen. On this occasion the Challenger was credited with a mile record, and she so utterly outclassed the other competing boats that racing against them was out of the question. The Florida built boats, however, most of them the "Skate" type, made an exceedingly creditable showing, furnishing all of the real racing at the regatta and giving ample promise of a strong class in the near future. This promise was amply fulfilled in the regatta last week, in which the Florida boats carried off a good share of the honors from some of the best known Northern racers.
In all there were 21 competitors, all of the racing type and including a number of notable boats from the North. Among the latter were Simplex III, well known as the winner of the long-distance race from New York to Poughkeepsie and return last Fall; Allon, a new Smith & Mabley boat of the Simplex type; Topsy, a new product of the Electric Launch Company, which was recently described in THE MOTOR BOAT; Six Shooter, the six-cylinder Olds' boat which has had such an unfortunate career last season, and fared no better on its Southern trip; H.L. Bowden's Mercedes; Carina, a Godschalk production, and L.T. Pettie's Twentieth Century.
The Florida boats were principally the product of two builders, Geo. Dewey, of Fort Lauderdale, and Geo. Gingras, of Rockledge, the former having five boats in the regatta and the latter three. The Dewey boats were the Bruiser, Meteor, Comet, Westrel and The Limit. The last three were built last year, and The Limit was then known as Grant Ferris Jr. The Gingras boats were Blanche, 23 and Shadow. Other Florida built boats were the Mera, built by A.T. Rose, of West Palm Beach, and the Possum, built by L.C. Holmes, of the same place.
The honors of the regatta were fairly well divided between the home boats and the visitors, though the principal trophy of the meet, the "Dewar Challenge Shield," for the fastest time over a mile course, went to Mercedes. As a whole the regatta was an unqualified success, so successful, in fact, that it needs but little foresight to prophesy that in a year or two at the most, the Palm beach regatta will receive the entry of many of the prominent racing boats of the North, and will be eagerly utilized by the trade for trying out their models for the coming season.
The regatta was of interest in another respect, in that it afforded the first opportunity for the first test of the new rating rules of the American Power Boat Association, and it must be admitted that the result was exceedingly unfavorable to the rules, which are not likely to prove any more successful than the rules of last year. While the new rule does not penalize the higher powered boats so heavily as the old, the improvement is so slight that the rule is fully as inadequate as that of last year, and is destined to meet with no more favor. The boats were handicapped under the rule during the first two days of the meeting, but the races were such mere processions as to be practically devoid of interest, especially to the great body of spectators, who naturally looked for close finishes and could not understand the system by which boats were started one at a time and, after a merry-go-round over one or more laps of the course, came in very much the same order in which they started out. So apparent indeed was the falling off in interest, that the committee very wisely threw the rule overboard after the second day and, during the last two days of the meet, they handicapped the boats upon the only sensible and practical system possible, that is, in accordance with the times they made in the previous two days' racing.
The result of the change was apparent at once. Close finishes became the order of the day, the waning interest was revived, and the success of the meet was assured beyond question. In fact, one of the most interesting races of the meet was the open event for the "Dewar Trophy," in which the boats competed without handicap over a mile course. Had this course been lengthened to five or ten miles there is no doubt that the interest would have been sustained from start to finish. A series of open events upon the first day would have served the purpose of giving data for the handicaps based upon performances, and would have added interest of the regatta.
The course was a flattened oval with semi-circular ends and was planned to be five nautical miles in circuit, but on account of shoal water at the lower end it was shortened to 4 1/2 nautical miles. It was laid out by Chief Engineer Butler, of the Florida East Coats Railway, and every buoy was located by triangulation from a base line on the shore, thus ensuring its absolute accuracy. The turns were marked by three buoys and there were intermediate marks on each side, at which were stationed sub-committee boats as well as at the turns.
In all, there were twelve events, three being decided each day, and first and second prizes were awarded in each event. Mercedes headed the list with three firsts, including the Dewar Challenge Shield for the best mile record. Allon won two firsts and two seconds; 23 won one first and three seconds; Carita, Comet, Shadow and 20th Century each won one first and one second. Topsy and Blanche each captured one first, and Possum, Mera and Meteor each obtained a second prize.
Of the Florida boats the best showing was made by 23, which won one first and three second prizes. This was built by George Gingras, of Rockledge, and is 30x4 feet 8 inches, and equipped with a 25-h., 4-cylinder Jaeger motor. The cylinders are 4 1/2x5 inches, the motor turns at 840 r.p.m. and was rated at 43.29, the boat being rated at 75.36. The same builder also constructed the Blanche, which won the consolation event on the final day. This boat is 27x4 feet 8 inches and has a 20 h. Motor Car Equipment Co. motor, cylinders 4 1/2x5 inches, turning 900 r.p.m. and rated at 31.80. The boat was rated at 65.12. Both boats are similar in construction except that Blanche has a flat floor and 23 has considerable dead rise. Another Gingras boat was Shadow, a handsome and well-built model of the torpedo stern type, 28x5 feet and equipped with a 4-cylinder Fay & Bowen, rated at 42.40. Shadow won a first and a second place.
Another notable boat of Florida built was Comet, which took one first and one second prize. This boat was built by George Dewey at Fort Lauderdale in 1904, and was a successful competitor in last year's Palm Beach meet. Comet is 36 feet long and is equipped with a 40-h., 4-cylinder Grant Ferris special brass finished motor. The cylinders are cast together with the valve boxes, etc., in one piece and are surrounded with a brass water jacket. The boat, which is owned by T.B. Collins, of Daytona, made the run of 230 miles from that place to Palm Beach in 11h. 30m., which is claimed as a record for the trip. Meteor was another Dewey boat which figured in the prize list. Meteor is 28x4 feet and has a 2-cylinder, 10-h. Motor Car Equipment Co. motor. It was obviously underpowered and is to be equipped with a 30-h. motor. In construction this boat is of the Skate type. it is owned by james DeBarry, of West Palm Beach. Bruiser, which was built by Dewey for James K. Clarke, of Pittsburgh, is 40x4 feet and is equipped with a 4-cylinder 50-h. Continental motor.
Possum was built by L.C. Holmes, of West Palm Beach for Lieut. H.L. Willoughby, and was constructed in two weeks' time, the motor being installed on the morning of the first race day. Despite the obvious disadvantage under which it thus labored, it made a good showing and obtained a place among the prize winners. It measures 24x4 feet and has a 30-h. Continental motor.
The Limit is a Skate, built by Dewey a year ago, and was formerly called Grant Ferris Jr. It is 30x4 feet 6 inches and has a 14-h. DeMooy motor. It was unable to hold the pace in the long races on account of the circulating pump being too small. Westrell is also a Dewey boat.
One of the notable Northern boats was Carita, built by E.H. Godschalk & Co., at Camden, N.J., for John Clarke of Pittsburgh, 34x5 feet 6 inches and equipped with a 30-h. Continental motor. Carita made a good showing and won one first and one second prize. The contests between this boat and Allon were always close and interesting.
Coo was formerly called Shrimp, and was built by the Auto Boat Co. at west Mystic, Conn. It is 22x4 feet and has a 2-cylinder, 8-h. Regal motor. It won a race on Thursday but was disqualified for having only one in the crew, and its owner, Elmer C. Rice, of Palm Beach, withdrew it from the rest of the races.
Considering the large number of boats competing here, there were few breakdowns, and these were largely caused because some of the Northern boats hadn't even been tried out before being shipped South, and of course, under the circumstances, trouble was looked for. For instance, Topsy was a brand new boat and had trouble with her engine bearings. Yet, notwithstanding this drawback, Mr. Sutphen put her in one of the races, and won first prize and showed 21 miles per hour. The disability is slight, and when finally tuned up, she is expected to give entire satisfaction to her designers, builders and owner. She is a duplicate of Perhaps, the well-named automobile boat, on account of her ease in handling and all-round perfect service. Perhaps was illustrated in the issue of Nov. 25, 1905. Topsy is 35 ft. long over all by 5 ft. 6 in. breadth and 12 in. draft. She has a 50-h., 4-cylinder, 6x6 4-cycle motor. She was built by The Electric Launch Co., of Bayonne, N.J.
Allon, another new boat, is a Smith & Mabley product. She also was compelled to withdraw from some of the races on account of various minor troubles, necessarily expected in a new boat. She is one of their regular 30 ft. yacht tender type, 28 ft. on the water line, 6 ft. breadth, and 15 in. draft of hull. She is equipped with a Smith & Mabley Simplex 30-hp. motor, 4-cylinder, 4-cycle, with cylinders of 4 1/2 in. bore and 5 1/2 in. stroke. Allon also won laurels.
(Transcribed from The Motor Boat, Feb. 10, 1906, pp. 1-5. )
[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page]
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