1907 Miami Regatta
The Miami Regatta
At the conclusion of the Carnival of the Palm Beach Power Boat Association at Lake Worth, most of the boats which had contested in the races and almost all the pleasure yachts made preparations to cruise to Miami for the races there under the auspices of the local power boat club on Biscayne Bay.
Miami is just 65 miles from Palm Beach and the route lies through a series of canals, rivers and small lakes to the large bay of Biscayne, on the Western shore of which is located the thriving town of Miami.
Unfortunately for the success of the regatta, a number of the boats which had competed at Palm Beach failed to show up, but what the regatta lacked in the point of number of entries, was more than made up in interest by the sailing races, canoe contests and water sports. It was the intention of the local regatta committee to handicap the power boats on performance, and after the handicaps had all been figures out, based on mile trials, it was found that the surveyor who measured the course had made a stupid error of some three-quarters of a mile in the distance. It was therefore necessary to rearrange a number of events, which resulted in some little confusion. As a very distressing incident occurred at Miami some years ago, in which a speed boat was credited with considerably more speed than she was capable of making, and which aroused considerable comment at the time, it is only fair to the logical yachtsmen to state that they had absolutely no knowledge of the fact that the error in distance existed and when it was finally discovered, they were wild with rage and indignation.
The first event of the regatta was a series of mile trials in which all the boats were required to run twice each way over an accurately measured nautical mile, and the succeeding races were to be handicapped on the results attained in the trials. As it is natural to suppose that any boat can go one mile straightaway at a better rate of speed than she could go a very much longer distance with several turns, it was decided by the committee in charge, that any boat exceeding her rate of speed should have double the excess added to her elapsed time, but that no boat should be disqualified for this offense. Sad to say, it was discovered that some of the boats took longer to go one mile straightaway with a flying start than they could a similar distance around a corner from a standing start. When the results were explained to the contestants, most of them took it philosophically and laid the increase of speed to some unknown engine phenomena. But one chap waxed indignant and declared that he had been buncoed, skinned, cheated and that several other unpleasant things had been worked off on him.
The boat of which most had been expected by the local enthusiasts was Secret, the Western flier, which had gotten lost while en route to the Palm Beach races and had failed to show up at all. her crew confidently announced that she would be driven better than 30 miles per hour, which of course, would beat Dixie. A close inspection of the boat revealed nothing extraordinary, except that she appeared to be heavily built for a boat capable of attaining the marvelous speed with which she had been credited. However, she did not show up at the starting line during any of the races, but would take short dashes and then retire to the boathouse. On the last day her crew requested that she be sent over the mile, in order that they might ascertain how near her speed was to 30 miles an hour. Her speed on the trial was in the neighborhood of 21 miles per hour and the owner shortly afterward sold the hull to a local yachtsman and shipped the engine back home.
The mile trials were scheduled to start on the morning of February 6th, the first day of the three-days' regatta, and were run off under almost perfect conditions. The boats were sent one way against the tide and one with the tide in the morning, and in the afternoon this schedule was repeated with a result that the average speed of the boats was arrived at within a very small fraction of a mile. In addition to these trials, Dixie later was given six runs, three each way, in order to establish a record for the course. She ran remarkably well and varied but a second or so in the runs. The conditions were ideal and it is doubtful if she ever again will be able to compete against time under such favorable auspices. The sea was a smooth as glass, there being absolutely not a breath of air stirring, and her wake could be plainly seen for the entire distance. She was carefully timed by W. E. Baker and H. E. Rodgers, Commodore J. H. Allen and R. A. Fields. The trials were carefully averaged and resulted in a speed of 29.32 statute miles per hour, and it is doubtful if she ever did or ever will greatly exceed the above figures.
On the afternoon of the first day, the working boats were raced over a course of 4.2 statute miles long with handicaps based on speeds given by their owners. Of the entire fleet only two boats exceeded their rated speed and it was later discovered that one chap who exceeded the speed had only run his boat a short while and made a poor guess, whereas the other man had accidentally handed in the wrong figures. It is pleasant, to say the least, to find in these days of exaggerated speeds that somewhere in the country there are a few chaps who underrate rather than overrate the speed of their fliers. In this race Tarpon II finished first, followed by Hoosier, and as both exceeded their speeds, they were handicapped according to the rule, with a result that Hoosier, despite the additional time added, won, with Harold second and Cocoon third. A feature of the race was the close finish between Cocoon and Uncle Sam. They came up the stretch almost together and were times only a half second apart. The owners immediately got together and together with the owner of Truant arranged a match race, to be held later during the meet. A very amusing incident occurred in connection with the above race, which is illustrative of the sporting blood sometimes displayed by the "only a nine mile an hour" boat owner. Bill McCoy, of Daytona, Florida, one of the owners of Uncle Sam, who in the Summer is the captain of the well-known power yacht Hobo, got wildly excited about the contest, and just before the race the attention of the committee was drawn to a commotion on the stern of the committee boat, which upon investigation proved to be an attempt on the part of Bill "to lighten her up a bit." Part of the lightening process consisted of hoisting the Uncle Sam's piano out through the forward companion, over the rail and on the the stern of the big houseboat Whim Wham, which had been kindly placed at the disposal of the committee by her genial owner, Mr. H. L. Slade. At one time it looked as if Uncle Sam was about to become pianoless, but by dint of much swearing and considerable caustic comment on the part of fellow-contestants, the piano was finally safely landed, but Uncle Sam eventually lost the race. She was easily the fastest boat on the straight but couldn't negotiate the turns with her smaller more nimble competitors.
The second day of the series continued fair and clear and the various events scheduled were run off promptly. The first event being for working boats over a course of 4.2 statute miles. Five boats started on their allowances, the handicap being based, as on the first day, on actual speed shown. Hoosier again proved to be the most consistent performer and won, with Tarpon II second and Isaak Walton third.
The first race for speed launches, handicapped on speeds attained over the nautical mile on the previous day, resulted in a win for Swallow. Of the five boats entered in this event, Swallow and Simplex VIII were the only boats which did not exceed the average speed attained in the mile-trial event, Skeeter exceeding her speed by almost two miles per hour and Edwinna by four-fifths of a mile. When this fact was announced, both owners withdrew their boats and refused to race again, This was very unfortunate, as they were plainly at fault and should have taken their medicine like good sportsmen.
The afternoon race for speed boats had but three entries, Hot Stuff III, Swallow and Mera. Dixie was laid up with clutch trouble. Skeeter and Edwinna dropped out and Simplex VIII went off cruising around the bay with a party. Mera did not finish and Hot Stuff III and Swallow practically made a match race of it, Hot Stuff III finally winning by only 19 seconds.
Nine boats were entered in the sailing race for auxiliaries, but owing to the light wind only one boat was able to finish within the three-hour time limit. The course triangular, nine miles in all, and the race was won by the sloop Klondike, owned by Ball Bros.
The third and last day of the regatta was probably the best of the meet. Besides the dory races, the canoe races and water sports, three events for the power boats were pulled off without a hitch. The speed launches covered a course of twenty-one miles and made a very interesting and close race. The auxiliaries, using both sail and power, raced nine miles, and the much-talked-of match race between Truant, Cocoon and Uncle Sam wound up the regatta.
Four boats showed up for the twenty-one mile event and were handicapped on their best speed shown in the three days' racing. Dixie had been repaired and was on hand early. Mera was the first away at 11:05 a.m., followed by Simplex VIII, Swallow and Dixie last. The boats made a very pretty race and the winner was in doubt until the last minute. Dixie was coming up very fast on the leaders but trouble with the magneto caused her to drop off rapidly on the fourth round, which cost her the race. On the last round Swallow blew out a spark plug and Simplex VIII, which craft had run most consistently throughout the entire race, won by 1 minute and 18 seconds from Swallow, with Dixie only 11 seconds behind.
Had the race been for a slightly longer distance the first three boats would have finished practically together. The spectacular negotiation of the sharp turns by Captain Pierce, who drove Dixie, was perhaps the best ever seen in this country; several times the spectators thought Dixie was swamped but each time Pierce would straighten her out, apparently just in time, and she would continue on her long stern chase after the limit boats.
The race for auxiliaries using both sail and power brought out a fleet of cruising craft which provided a most interesting race. Six boats started and five finished and a more mixed class of craft could hardly be imagined, nevertheless, they made a fine race and caused many to think deeply as to the possibilities of this style of racing. The race was a "free-for-all," "boat-for-boat" event, with no allowances or restrictions of any kind, and after racing nine miles around a triangular course, Yuma, and auxiliary yawl, Klondike, a shallow-draught auxiliary sloop, and Whiz, a regulation healthy type of launch with auxiliary sail, finished only 5 minutes and 41 seconds apart.
The final race of the regatta, the match race between Truant, Cocoon and Uncle Sam, brought the local talent out in force and large sums of real money were wagered on the result. The boats raced without time allowance and each carried a large party of guests. The start was good, all getting off together, and kept close to one another all over the course. The first lap was practically a dead heat, all three running the stake together. Truant finally drew slowly ahead and won by 33 seconds from Cocoon, with Uncle Sam 26 seconds behind.
(Transcribed from The Rudder, March 1907, pp. 331-335 )
[Thank to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page LF]
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