1908 APBA Gold Cup
Dixie II Wins the Gold Challenge Cup at Chippewa Bay
A Tale Of How The Fastest Motorboat In The World Played With Chip III
For three days in the clean, clear emerald water of Chippewa bay Dixie II has been playing at her old game of the cat and the mouse, playing it with Chip III, defender of the American Power Boat Association's Gold Cup for the Chippewa Bay Yacht Club, and three days in succession Dixie won. As the result, the Gold Cup which was won in September, 1904, by the Ving-et-Un, and which has been held since that time by the Chippewa Bay Yacht Club, now becomes the property of the Thousand Islands Yacht Club of Alexandria bay. A coincidence worthy of note, is that Dixie II, challenger and winner in 1908, and Vingt-et-Un, challenger and winner in 1904, are both from the designs of Clinton H. Crane. The gold cup course of the Chippewa bay Yacht Club is fifteen statute miles in length, with the start and finish off the Chippewa Bay Club's houseboat on Cedar Island. The course extends from here to a buoy six miles distant, off the entrance of Goose Bay. The first turn is made and the course extends six miles back and around Cedar Island to the starting point. Including the turns the course measures exactly 15.05 miles, having been measured on the ice. The race was twice around this course. One point which was remarked upon by Captain pearce of the Dixie, is that the turns of the course are directly opposite to the usual American practice, although the custom is the common English way.
As we viewed the race from Cedar Island, a short description of this spot seems worth while. Cedar Island is high and rocky, covered with woods; more than half of it belongs to the State of New York, and as one approaches the landing at the Chippewa Bay yacht Club, a big sign appears bearing the words "State Island." Some years ago the State of New York purchased this and other similar sites in the Thousand Islands which have been given over to the use of picnickers, pleasure parties and campers. Every convenience is provided for rustic living. There are a number of stoves which are built on top of a flat rock, the sides built up of stone and cement with a cast-iron top and grate and a sheet iron chimney. These are for the use of anybody who wants them; the first come has the right. Bass are plentiful in these waters, likewise perch, and one may come here, catch his fish and cook it over the glowing fire of one of these stoves and enjoy a meal in the open air. During the days of the races the Island was filled with spectators. There is a hotel there, the Cedar Island House, owned by a local character, one M. P. Phillips, on the opposite side of the Island to the Chippewa Bay landing station.
The enthusiasts of the Thousand Islands were strong for the Chip; they seemed to believe her invincible, that is, all but those of the Thousand Islands Yacht Club, and here there was ready assurance that the Dixie would do the trick and that the Club would gain the custody of the Cup.
On the day of the first race, August 20th, we reached Cedar Island some time before noon, and a talk with Secretary Knapp of the Chippewa Club, showed that there were eight entries for the Gold Cup Race. These were Dixie II, representing the Thousand Islands yacht Club, and as everybody knows, or ought to know, owned by E. J. Schroeder of Jersey City; Chip III, defender for the Chippewa Club, owned by the estate of Jonathan Wainwright and Senator Hawkins; Pirate, representing the St. Lawrence River Yacht Club, owned by C. N. Peacock; Pawnee, representing the Clayton yacht Club and owned by J. P. Gillespie; U.S.A., of the Riverton (N.J.) Yacht Club, owned by her builder, John S. Sheppard; Duquesne of the Frontenac Yacht Club, owned by Rowland Peacock; Stranger, representing the New York Athletic Club, owned by F. G. Bourne, and Jan of the Gananoque Yacht Club, owned by George Hasbrouck. here was a fleet of eight boats, and we doubt if eight faster boats were ever gotten together in this country.
As the race was not to start until 3:00 p.m., two ambitious anglers of our party proceeded to fish with satisfactory results, and we had a most satisfactory luncheon as the guests of the State of New York; a luncheon prepared by two local artists who specialize in this sort of thing. As the hour of the race drew near, the Committee took their station on the judges' boat, a flat scow anchored off the Chippewa Yacht Club house-boat. The other end of the line was marked by a red flag about 3200 yards away. Now the racers began to appear. Came the Pirate; came Pawnee, Stranger Jan, and U.S.A. Came Chip out of her secret lair in the boat-house of Senator Hawkins; Chip, the pride of local enthusiasts, Chip, the boat that was to hold or try to hold the cup for the Chippewa Club. Not a sightly thing is Chip; her hull is of light color and about amidships, from her engine which develops 200 horse-power and more, rise in the air two lines of pipes. They rise high--about six feet--and if anything more resembled a floating pipe-organ we have yet to see it; came Chip with a roar like the 20th Century Limited at full speed. She is very flat astern and appears to be a sort of compromised hydroplane. If anyone knows much about her lines he will not tell. She is the result of the skill of the wizard of Syracuse, H. J. Leighton, and to the everlasting honor of that best of sports, Jonathan Wainwright, dead now, let it be known that he set aside in his will a sum of money to build defenders for the Chippewa Bay Yacht Club..
Came Dixie, fastest motorboat on earth, the beautiful Dixie that won our hearts forever in the International Race; but her magnificent mahogany hull was not marred here by the mufflers which caused her crew to suffer when she raced the Wolseley-Siddeley on August 3rd.
At 2:55 p.m. the preparatory gun was fired and the red flag was raised on the judges' boat. Duquesne was the only boat entered that did not start. Five minutes, now, until the start.
The boats took their positions a few seconds before the time for the starting gun made a rush for the line. All crossed in a bunch, close after the gun and Dixie took the lead at once. Away they went down the course, shortly out of sight. Ten minutes after the start, a storm which had been gathering, broke over the bay. All morning the weather had been beautiful and the storm came almost without warning. Rain poured for about fifteen minutes, but let up before the boats finished the first round. Thirty minutes after the start Dixie shot into view around the Island running smoothly. She had not that lift of her bow that is apparent when she is extending her full speed. The Chip was forty-five seconds behind the Dixie on the first round.
U.S.A., about a mile from the starting point, after she had overtaken most of the fleet, and when she seemed to be making better speed than she is thought to be capable of, struck some floating obstacle and withdrew from the race. They were now off on the second lap. Dixie held her lead, not extending herself; just so far ahead of the Chip and stayed there. Dixie won the race from Chip by 19 seconds.
The morning of August 21st brought with it considerable wind coming from an almost cloudless sky. The waters of the St. Lawrence were quite rough; so rough in fact, that we sought a sheltered course in the lee of the islands on our way to Chippewa Bay from Alexandria Bay in an open 28-footer. The program of the previous day was repeated in the way of angling, etc. Before 3 o'clock, the hour for the start, the committee held a meeting and decided to postpone the day's race for an hour with the hope that the water would smooth down a bit, and as if they had some occult communication with the powers that command the weather, the water did smooth perceptibly.
The seven boats which had started in the first day's race were on hand and the same fleet started. As before they were all away in a bunch at the starting gun. Chip led Dixie slightly at the start, but we could see Dixie gain yard by yard, and within 100 yards of the judge's boat Dixie had jumped to the lead. We had discovered a spot on the opposite side of the Island where we could see the racers come up the back stretch, and after they had passed out of sight from the starting point we hastened there. Twenty minutes after the start Dixie came into sight. As nearly as we could judge she was three-quarters of a mile ahead of Chip, running smoothly, with Chip behind her throwing water like a spouting whale. For miles we could hear the roar of her exhausts over the water. As the boats rounded the second turn Dixie began to slow up. She ran so slowly in fact that Chip had almost caught her at the finish of the first round and Dixie was only 18 seconds in the lead as they passed the judge's boat. In fact her crew held her down until Chip was abreast, as Captain Pearce told us, but it appeared from the shore as if Chip was actually ahead. This gave us a severe attack of heart trouble.
Again we crossed the Island, a five minutes' walk, and waited in suspense until they came in sight. When they did Dixie was again ahead--about three-quarters of a mile. She was playing, she was enticing the other fellow on.
And now an exciting moment was at hand. As the boats rounded the first mark of the last turn Dixie veered in toward the Island making a long "V." We thought something had gone wrong, that her steering gear was out of shape. Another attack of heart failure. In a few seconds--hours it seemed--she straightened out, rounded the second buoy and came in toward the finish taking it easy, until within 100 yards of the judge's boat, when we saw that mahogany bow go up, up, up and we knew that Rappuhn had opened the throttle. Dixie won the second race by just six seconds. If you should ask Captain Pearce why he did not win by a greater margin, he would simply tell you, "Enough's enough." After the race we hailed Dixie, and asked how her crew felt about it. Rappuhn answered by pointing to his vest pocket, signifying that they had Dixie's adversary there.
U.S.A. withdrew from the race during the first round owing to a breakdown in her machinery.
The rules under which the racers were held this year provide for a boat for boat race, without handicap. The rules also provide that the races shall be won on points, that is, each boat received one point behind her at the finish and one additional point for finishing the course.
Saturday, August 22, the last day of the race, proved clear with a freshening wind which kicked up quite a sea early in the afternoon which caused the regatta committee to postpone the start until 5 p.m. By that time, although the sky had clouded up, the water was much calmer.
Dixie had reserved her most startling stunt, her most brilliant trick, her most heart-breaking caper until the final day. That the writer of all this is alive is a mystery to himself. Five minutes before the hour, the preparatory gun was fired and six boats, all of them except U.S.A., took their positions ready for the gun. The accident to U.S.A.'s machinery on the day before was one which could not be repaired in a day's time. Another beautiful start with Dixie in the rear.
As they passed the line she shot ahead. She went by the other boats as if they were anchored, and then--and then, as she was between two of the racers, passing them apparently, she stopped! A bang, a puff from her exhausts, and she lay in the water as if dead. The rest went on, Chip leading, shooting holes into the air and giving her imitation of an endless bunch of giant crackers, Away she went, the seconds passed, the Dixie still, still as death. A minute came, and a minute means half a mile; seconds more, two minutes, the Dixie lifeless, one second, two seconds, a few more seconds. Dixie moved, she moved faster, faster, a cry went up--"She's off!" And she was off, off with a spurt. We knew that Dixie could go at least four miles an hour faster than Chip and we knew that if she was all right she would have no difficulty in winning the race. But was she all right?
We crossed the Island to our point of vantage on the other side and waited in suspense. At twenty minutes after five, through the glasses in the hazy distance, we saw a racer coming. We simply saw a speck of spray on the surface of the cloud-darkened water.
"It's Chip," a shout went up.
Half a minute later: "By George, you're wrong; it's Dixie" and Dixie it was. In that eight miles and a trifle more Dixie had not only gained all she had lost while she lay that two minutes and more, but was nearly a mile in the lead. This distance she held as she rounded the turn and finished the first lap in 29:23, including the two minutes and more which she lost. Deducting this, the results show that Dixie covered the fifteen statute miles at a rate a trifle less than 33 1-2 miles an hour. Dixie finished the first lap one minute twenty-three and one-half seconds ahead of Chip and was out of sight around the end of the Island before Chip crossed the line. The excitement of the day was over and the second lap proved uneventful. Dixie held back and at the finish was only 33 seconds ahead of Chip.
Stranger did not finish owing to some mechanical difficulty.
Dixie was handled through the race by her invincible crew, Captain S. Bartley Pearce, engineer; Albert Rappuhn and captain Pearce's son, Ralph Pearce.
(Transcribed from MotorBoat, Aug. 25, 1908, pp.1-8.)
[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page LF]
History Home Page
This page was last revised Thursday, April 01, 2010 .
Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. Email us at email@example.com
© Leslie Field, 2001