1907 Palm Beach Mid-Winter Regatta
The Lake Worth Carnival
Racing men from all parts of the country were gathered at Palm Beach on the occasion of the midwinter motor boat carnival which opened on Tuesday, Jan. 29, and held through the balance of the week. There were four days of very good racing, though with a comparatively small fleet, only four of which were northern boats. While the climate, the conditions and the location tend to make Lake Worth the Winter center of American launch racing, Thus far these events have fallen short of international or even national interest, and they still must be classed as local. The immediate management of the racing was in the same hands as last year, with Theodore D. Wells as chairman of the race committee, assisted by Ernest A Serrell as measurer. The program for the four days was based upon a dual classification: Classes A, B, C by the APBA rule and classes X, Y, Z by load waterline. Class A included all launches of 80 feet rating and under, while Class B included those over 80 feet; Class C included all launches when measured by the APBA rule. Similarly Class X included launches of 35 feet load waterline and under; Class Y, launches of 35 feet and over, and Class Z all launches regardless of length. In addition it was arranged after the first day to handicap on actual performance.
The meet brought out a large attendance of cruising launches and spectators, Lake Worth being gay with yachts and flags, while many watched the races from the shore. The local entries showed a change from previous years in the presence of the high-powered auto-boat in place of the all-around launch; low freeboard, long turtle-back, and room for but two persons. The principal northern launch was the well-known 40-footer Dixie, Commodore E. J. Schroeder, Motor Boat Club of America; Smith & Mabley had two new Simplex launches, VIII and IX, and E. H. Godschalk had a new boat, Swallow, very similar to the Gold-cup contestant Sparrow.
The weather was unpleasant early in the week, strong northeast winds kicking up a sea on Lake Worth and causing trouble to some of the launches coming by way of the Indian river. On Monday the wind still held and the lake was too rough for trials of the racing craft. The conditions were better on Tuesday morning and the first race was started at 11 o'clock, Class A, five miles, with eight starters. Simplex IX, Herman Broessel, won in 17 minutes 44 seconds; Hot Stuff, D. J. Southall, was second in 19 minutes 12 seconds; and Possum, Hugh L. Willoughby, was third in 18 minutes 48 seconds, being scratch boat.
The next race was for Class B, 80 rating and over, 10 miles, Dixie being scratch boat. Katherine, J. H. Middleby, won in 28 minutes 26 seconds, her allowance being 4 minutes 8 seconds; Grey Wolf, H. L. Willoughby Jr., was second in 31 minutes 41 seconds; and Bruiser, J. K. Clarke, was third in 31 minutes 27 seconds. on the second round Dixie was disabled from the melting of a bearing and withdrew; being taken in hand for repairs for the next day's racing. In the afternoon the Class A race was repeated, Simplex IX winning again, with Possum second and Hot Stuff third. The Class B race followed, Grey Wolf winning from Katherine after a very close finish, with Bruiser third. The day finished with the Class C race, with no limit of rating, 10 miles. Bruiser was scratch boat, but at the end of the first round Simplex IX came up from third to first place and finally won, with Katherine second and Grey Wolf third.
The second day's sport was marred by a collision between two launches at speed in which both were damaged and the chances of as fatal accident narrowly averted. Mrs. James K. Clarke, the daughter of Hugh L. Willoughby, accompanied her husband on board Bruiser, sitting beside him on the thwart just abaft the engine. After the finish of the second race, in which Bruiser and Katherine took part, the two ran through the fleet of anchored yachts, Bruiser bound for her owner's wharf. As she ran by to starboard of a large cabin launch, Katherine ran by on the port side, the two meeting when they had cleared the anchored vessel. George Gingras, the builder of Katherine, who had her wheel, steered to clear Bruiser and Mr. Clarke did the same on his part, but it was too late and the two boats came together. Katherine's bow plowed into the port side of Bruiser and struck her engine; the shock threw Mrs. Clarke forward over the machinery and her skirt caught the shaft and wound up as the boat began to sink. Mr. Clarke had a knife at hand and managed to cut the skirt and free his wife in time to pass her over to the Possum, which, with her father on board, came to their aid. Bruiser sank at once, but Katherine was kept afloat until shoal water was reached. Mrs. Clarke was uninjured and none the worse for her thrilling experience.
The day's race were run under an arbitrary handicap based on actual performance in trial runs, with the proviso that any yacht exceeding her performance on the runs by more than 3 per cent should be disqualified. The first race, started at 11 a.m. over a 4½-mile course, was for launches under 35 feet LWL.
The next race was for launches of 35 feet LWL and over, started at 11:30 over a 9-mile course. It was after this race that Bruiser and Catherine were in collision.
At 2:30 the 35-foot class started again over a 9-mile course. Both Errand Boy and Mera exceeded their trial speed and were penalized, making their final corrected times: Errand Boy, 3:42:31; thus making Baby Bullet the winner.
The next race, at 3:30, was for launches over 35 feet LWL, course 4½ miles. The final race for all lengths was over a course of 13½ miles and again Mera and Errand Boy exceeded their trial speeds, being handicapped in addition until their times were 5:16:50 and 5:17:27 respectively. This made Dixie first, with Grey Wolf, Blanche, Baby Bullet, Mera and Errand Boy in order. This method of handicapping has worked out in practice as in theory, making very close finishes.
The program for Thursday included six races, all but the last being over 4½-mile courses, that being 13 miles. The basis of classification was the speed, the fleet being divided into two classes, those with a speed of less than 18 miles and those of over 18 miles.
As Mr. Schroeder was dissatisfied with the handicap allotted to Dixie, he merely crossed the line and then withdrew. Swallow finished first, but was disqualified for exceeding her trial speed.
On Friday morning the mile trials for record and the Dewar shield were run, Dixie making six runs, three with and three against the tide. Her best time was 2 minutes 19 seconds with the tide, a speed of 25.90 knots, and 2 minutes 21 1-5 seconds against; the mean time for all the runs, as announced by the committee, was 2 minutes 21.32 seconds, or a speed of 25.40 knots, for the nautical mile with flying start.
In the afternoon the consolation race, open to launches which had not finished in first place, was run over a 4½-mile course, with two starters. Grey Wolf won as Errand Boy withdrew.
As E. H. Godschalk, owner of Swallow, was dissatisfied with the decision of the previous day, an extra race was arranged, with the handicaps on the basis of Thursday's times, Dixie, Katherine and Grey Wolf also starting. Again the handicapping brought a close finish, Dixie winning by only 4 seconds.
The final race of the meet was the endurance run of 18 nautical miles, won by Dixie at an average speed of 24.60 knots.
(Transcribed from Boating, March 1907, pp. 31-34.)
[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page LF]
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