1908 Hudson River Carnival

The National Carnival

Race Meet of the Manufacturers' Association, Held on the Hudson River,
Under the Auspices of the Colonial Yacht Club

Motorboat Vision Lost
Motorboat Dixie II Makes Mile Record

Dixie II Captures More Speed Honors

Motorboat Races End In Protests

Dixie II and Vim Win

Motorboats Show Good Racing Speed

Motor Boat Cups Go To Dixie II

The National Carnival

The National Motor Boat Carnival


Where the Hudson River flows through its broad, deep channel--carved by the rushing waters of countless centuries-- past the upper end of the Island of Manhattan, the Metropolis of the Western world, the Babylon, the Tyre, the Athens, or the Rome of America, as your sense of simile may select--this was the scene of the National Motorboat Carnival of 1908, a race meet held annually for prizes offered by the National Association of Engine and Boat manufacturers. This year the carnival was held under the auspices of the Colonial Yacht Club, instead, as formerly, the Motor Boat Club of America. The Colonial Yacht Club formerly had its home at 108th Street on the Hudson River, but early this Spring a new place was found that seemed an ideal spot for a growing organization of motorboat enthusiasts. This is a semi-circular bit of land at the water's edge, reaching from 139th to 142nd Street. it is backed by the high stone structure that Gothamites point to with pride at the Riverside Drive. Up above live the flat dwellers, the cliffmen of Harlem, an industrious, hardy race. In tall, stately piles of stone and brick, stucco and plaster, they pass their turbulent lives, each with a nook of his own, an eyrie, high up above the Hudson. These tall, imposing buildings--some of them housing a population as great as that of a small town--formed an effective background, a background distinctly modern in every particular, and thus suited to harmonize with a picture of motorboat racing, the newest of the world's sport.

The principal features of the weather during the week were fog and smoke, fog from the Atlantic Ocean, mixed with smoke from the forest fires in the mountains, far away in the Northern parts and in Canada. The result was a haze, so dense most of the time that the opposite shore of the river was quite invisible, and this was the cause of a good deal of annoyance to the racing men. However, as the carnival took place during a week which should have brought forth that bugbear of the navigator, the equinoctial storm, a protest against the will of the poor, old, much-maligned Jupiter Pluvius is scarcely in order. For the whole week the river was smooth, and what of it the fog would permit one to see was as unruffled as the most fastidious, hydroplanical craft could have asked for--except when the old steam freight packet, Sarah Jenks, happened by; then her mighty swell caused such boats as Den and Vim to behave much in the manner of a playful sturgeon. One of the photographs of Den shows the effect of the Sarah Jenks' swells. If you cruise upon the Hudson, and you should see the venerable liner coming sedately along, quickly grab something that is fast, and hold on until she has done her worst. If Den had had an aeroplane attached, she surely would have kept on going until her sharp stem wedged itself fast in Mars or some nearby planet.

To get to the Colonial Yacht Club you take a Subway train the 137th Street and Broadway; then you walk to 138th Street, and then down a thirty-degree hill to the river, and it might be remarked here that some of the guests of the occasion who are blessed, or cursed, with an excess of avoirdupois, after they have trudged up that hill for six days, resembling a shadow of their former selves. From the foot of the hill the way leads to the clubhouse, where a most hospitable welcome awaited every visitor. The club-house is a one story building of generous dimensions; later on--probably the coming of Spring--another story will be added. There is a big lounging room and a buffet and lots of easy chairs and other things are arranged for the comfort of members and guests. The principal feature is a broad piazza which extends the entire length of the building; this was crowded every day by members and guests and by a number of interested spectators of the feminine sex. At one end of the piazza was the committee's quarters, carefully roped off, so that the dignitaries might have seclusion, that their meditations and calculations might not be broken in upon by seekers of information. The committee consisted of Chas. H. Newman, E. T. Valliant, R. P. Boisset, Lester Mayer, N. Heidelberg and J. H. McIntosh, with Hugh S, Gambel, representing the National Association. Mr. Gambel was the busiest man about the place, and, before we go any further, it should be said that much of the success of the carnival was due to his ceaseless efforts.

The starting line for every race was from the committee's table to a mark boat anchored about 100 yards out in the stream. There were a number of visiting yachts from various ports. Some of these were able to borrow moorings temporarily, but most of them anchored, which gave their crews a splendid opportunity to discover the great depth of the Hudson River when they raised the hook.

It is quite needless to state that the interest of the crowd was centered on E. J. Schroeder's wonderful racer Dixie II, successful defender of the Harmsworth International Trophy, winner of the A.P.B.A. Gold Challenge Cup race at Chippewa Bay last August, and the fastest boat afloat, bar none. Dixie II appeared every day except Wednesday, and her performance was as steady as the swing of a pendulum, almost, although she did nothing remarkable--for her--with the exception of one lap of the thirty knot race on Thursday. This 10 knots she covered at the marvelous rate of 37.79 miles an hour, but this will be brought up in proper order. If any other boat in the world had done as well as Dixie did during the week of racing it would have been considered marvelous, but we have become so used to Dixie's greatness that we think nothing of it unless she plays some exceptional interesting trick.

Monday, September 21

The introduction of the week's racing--the overture as it might be called--took place on monday in the shape of speed trials for the one Mile Championship. The entry cards showed that six boats intended to take part in this event. These were Dixie II; Den, owned by Joseph H. Hoadley, Commodore of the Motor Boat Club of America; Vim, owned by George F. Baker Jr.; Vision, owner F. F. Goodwin; Bullet, owner W. J. Taylor; and Speedway, owned by Chas. L. Seabury. Of these the first three were the only ones to appear for the trials. As a matter of fact, Vision, so far as the carnival races were concerned, proved well named. There was a good deal of talk about her, and she was expected to do marvelous things. Some of those who assembled at the club had heard a friend say that a man he knew had heard another man say that he had seen her. That is about all anyone seemed to know about Vision, excepting that she is equipped with an 80-hp. Darraq motor. it was reported that she had sunk in lower New York Bay while being towed, a few days prior to the races. She was entered in the 12-meter class with Dixie II in the series races and her failure to appear gave Dixie a lone hand to play. Dixie II, as you ought to know by this time, has a Crane & Whitman motor of 200 hp. Den is another well-known racer, equipped with a 71.6-hp. A & B motor, and Vim is a smaller model of Den with a 31-hp. motor of the same type.

The trials were held over the Navy nautical mile on the Hudson River, between range poles on the eastern bank at 115th Street and running south to similar poles near Ninety-first Street. Each boat was required to make six runs in alternate directions, with and against the tide, the mean of the speeds of the several races being recorded as the speed of the boat. C. G. Davis and C. H. Lary were the timers at the northern range poles, and T. F. Purdie and W. K. Whipple were at the southern end of the mile. The trials began with the boats going down the river against the flood tide and a light breeze blowing up stream. They were sent away at intervals of five minutes, and this plan was observed in despatching them on all the runs. Dixie was steered by Capt. S. Bartley Pearce, and at her engine was Albert Rappughn--the same crew that had charge of her in the International and Gold Cup races. Captain Saunders was the helmsman of the Vim, and George Saunders her engineer, while the Den's engines were handled by W. S. Herreshoff. There were many motor yachts anchored along the course, and scores of smaller boats took positions of advantage to watch the progress of the trials. The committee in charge gave great care to details. They were on board rear-Commodore Totten's motor yacht Amaranth, which went up and down the river, as required, to start the boats in the several trials.

An interesting comparison has been made between the speed of Dixie II in these trials and that attained by Daimler II in a like trial made on September 5 in Southampton waters for the International Sea Mile Record. it will be remembered that Daimler II was one of the British challengers for the International Trophy and that she had to withdraw shortly after the start, owing to an accident to one of her motors. The Daimler has three motors, and her power is about 450 hp. There was some talk aboard to the effect that if she had not broken down, she would have been able to beat the Dixie for the International Trophy. He record, however, disproves this. At Southampton Daimler's first mile with the tide was made in 2:10 4-5, against the tide, 2:19 2-5. Her second trials with and against the tide were, respectively, 2:14 and 2:24 and her third trials with and against were made in 2:05 3-5 and 2:10 1-5. This gives the Daimler II a mean speed of 26.446 nautical miles or 30.453 statute miles an hour.

Tuesday, September 22

The event of this day was the free-for-all race for the American championship, over a course of ten nautical miles, three times around, total distance 30 knots. Five boats had been entered, but Vision, Mercury and Vim did not start, therefore, the race narrowed down to a contest between Dixie II and Den. The course lay from the starting point up the Hudson to a mark boat for Spuyten Duyvil, then down the river to a mark off Shadyside and back to the clubhouse. The day could not have been improved upon, so far as the conditions of the water were concerned, but the smoke made the racers difficult to see for any distance. There was a light breeze from the north and the tide was running ebb. The course was well patrolled by a revenue cutter, which was in attendance throughout the week to keep the course clear. The boats were timed as they crossed the line bound north, the starting signal being given at twenty minutes before three o'clock. Dixie's start was given officially as 2:40:20, and Den crossed the line three seconds later. Dixie drew away from her smaller and less powerful adversary in easy fashion, and completed her first circuit of the course in 22:13. Den crossed the line at 29:19. Thus Dixie was 7m. 6s. ahead at the end of the first lap. Dixie took just one second longer on her second round than on her first, making it in 22:14, while Den took 32:33 to cover the second ten knots. The third and last round was made by Dixie in 22:24, while Den took 32:07. It will easily be seen that the Dixie beat Den in the thirty-knot race by 27:08. Dixie's elapsed time was 1:06:51, Den 1:33:59. Dixie's average, shown by the above figures, was 26.94 nautical miles, or 31.02 statute miles an hour, while Den's time was 19.15 nautical, or 22.05 statute miles an hour.

There was a good-sized crowd in attendance on the second day, many having come from a distance in order to see the Dixie. Among the latter was H. T. Koerner, one of Buffalo's most enthusiastic motorboatists, owner of the yacht Seminole. Mr. Koerner said that he had promised himself the pleasure of seeing the Dixie race before the season was over, and as he was just about to start on a trip around the world, he took this opportunity of making good.

Wednesday, September 23

This day had been set aside for the long-distance championship races. The morning dawned with heavy fog, shutting in the river. The boats were divided into two classes; one, the cruising class, raced to Peekskill and return, a distance of 60 statute miles, and the other, or speed-boat class, ran to Poughkeepsie and return, a distance of 140 miles. Eleven boats had been entered for the Poughkeepsie race, and of these six started. In the cruiser class twenty-six entries had been received by the committee, and seventeen were in readiness at the appointed time. The dense fog delayed the start of both divisions. It had been intended that the two classes should start at an interval of five minues--9:30 for the cruisers and 9:35 for the speed boats. By 10 o'clock the fog had cleared up considerably and the cruisers were sent away at 10:10. it was not until an hour later that it was thought practicable to send the speed boats on their long journey to Poughkeepsie and back. The cruising boats made a very pretty start, and to see a fleet of seventeen boats cross the line well bunched was worth a trip of some distance. As will be seen in the summary, the racers also started well, and there was only a difference of 19 seconds between the first four to get away. One of the most exciting moments of the entire week occurred just at the start of the speed boats, when Elco, owned ny Henry R. Sutphen, was seen coming up the river as fast as she could travel. She had been delayed in getting to the starting line, owing to the fog that hung over the lower bay and the river. She dashed up to the float, to which point Mr. Sutphen and several members of the committee had hastened. There was a quick consultation and she started 4m. 13s. after the gun. The ruling had been made that a boat which was unable to start five minutes after the gun would be disqualified, therefore, Elco entered the race a bare 45 seconds inside the limit. The summary will show details of the race better than a lengthy description. What happened at Poughkeepsie, the far end of the course for speed boats, is told by Mr. Davis' comments, written from his observations from the mark boat at that point. The long-distance championship for speed boats was won by Vim, second prize goes to Artful, and third prize to Elco, a stock boat, seating eight people, a duplicate of the boat exhibited at the New York show last Winter. In the cruising class, the championship belongs to Alabama, second prize to Irene II, third to Barbara, and fourth to Wanderlust.

Thursday, September 24

On Thursday began the Series Races for the various classes. Officially there were seven classes, but in four of them there was no contest. In the class for motor yachts of more than 60 feet in length, Commodore J. H. Hoadley's Alabama had things all to herself. A like conditions existed in the class for open boats of 40 feet in length, in which Speedway was alone, and in the 12-meter racing class Dixie II was the only starter, owing to the non-appearance of Vision, which has already been alluded to. The other class in which there was no contest was that for cabin boats of more than 40 and under 60 feet in length, which went to Eagle, owned by A. I. Piercy. In the other three classes, however, there were a number of starters. The class for cabin cruisers of less than 40 feet in length brought out Betty, Wamego and Selma. The open boat class consisted of Herby, Joker and Angie. The largest entry list was in the class for racers of 33 feet and under. The starters in this class were Elco, Den, Vim, Mercury, Scioto, Artful and Macon.

The day was foggy, and the story of the first day of the series races is best told by the summary, in which all details will be found. The most remarkable incident was the performance of Dixie II in her first round of the course, and this was the only time during the week that she opened up at all. For the first ten knots she made over the fastest time of her wonder- ful career, and ran over the course in a magnificent burst of speed, covering the distance in 18m. 17s.. This shows the remarkable speed average of 32.82 knots , or 37.79 statute miles an hour. this marvelous performance proves conclu- sively that Dixie has a reserve speed that she has never yet been forced to show, although I think she did show her ability in the last race for the gold Challenge Cup, when with Chip III a mile and more in the lead, she caught and passed her and was over a mile ahead of the Chip in less than ten miles' running, and remember that Chip III is really a wonderfully fast boat, the best in America outside of the Dixie. The second lap was the slowest Dixie ever made, ten knots in 27m. 38s. The third round was done in 22 minutes flat. In the speed-boat class Vim was the leader of the day, with seven points in her favor. Vim was handled throughout the races by her owner, George F. Baker Jr. She was built for use as a tender to Mr. Baker's steam yacht, and is intended to be carried on davits. This shows that while she is a remarkably fast boat, she is also a strongly built craft. Den was disabled and withdrew from the race, and Mercury was also forced to withdraw, owing to an accident which had occurred the day before in the long-distance race to Poughkeepsie. her machinery was working splendidly, but her long, low, needle-like hull was badly battered and in a leaky condition.

Friday, September 25

The have still hung over the river at the start of the second day of the series races. There was nothing of a particularly exciting character during the entire afternoon. Dixie went over the course in 1:05:40, making the rounds of 10 knots in 22:18, 21:51 and 21:21, an average of 27.34 knots or 31.39 statute miles an hour. About mid-afternoon the huge battleship New Hampshire steamed slowly up the river under her own power. As she passed along in leisurely manner, the racers dashed by her, and lookers-on were given a picture that they are likely to remember for some time--that od a great war vessel, a machine built to destroy, a huge fighting implement, surrounded by a fleet of speeding motorboats. The sailors of the New Hampshire could be seen gathered at her rail, looking at the speeding craft as they darted past the gigantic mass of steel.

In the racing class for boats of 33 feet and under, there were seven starters. Vim, with an allowance of 28m. 8s., was the winner on corrected time. Macon took second place, and Elco third. Artful and Scioto withdrew, the former on account of a bent propeller blade. Alabama had no competitor in the class for cruisers of 60 feet and over, and Eagle had things her own way again in the class for cabin boats over 40 feet. Wamego won in her class, and Joker was the winner in the open launch event.

Saturday, September 26

The last day of the carnival was an improvement upon the rest of the week, so far as atmospheric conditions were concerned; there was less haze and consequently the spectators were able to get a better view of the racers. This was the final day of the series contests, and a few of the performers of previous days did not appear. Dixie was on hand again, and covered the course in 1:05:37, and as a result of her racing in the series contests, she was awarded the International Cup. her speed on this day was at the rate of 27.43 knots or 31.6 statute miles an hour. Speedway again covered the course, and received for her trouble a handsome trophy. Vim again won in her class, and thus made sure of the Interstate trophy. Alabama and Eagle, both without contest, captured respectively the motor yacht prize and the appropriate trophy offered to the winner of the cabin launch class, thus consoling her owner for her disqualification in the Peekskill race, which was caused by the removal of her standing top after she had been measured.

Late in the afternoon the sound of a cannon boomed across the water from the New Hampshire, and the spectators gathered about the clubhouse were treated to the rare sight of a battleship firing her guns to the echo of the Palisades. Through the haze one could see the flame and smoke, and then, after an interval of a few seconds, would come the sound of the explosion. The battleship was firing the National salute in honor of the unveiling of the Soldiers' Monument at Fort Lee.

Thus ended the National Motor Boat Carnival week--a successful meet that demonstrated the popularity of motorboat racing. Every day the parapet of Riverside Drive was crowded with interested onlookers, some of them risking their necks by sitting on the edge of the wall, some 50 or 60 feet above the club grounds.

The prizes offered by the National Association of Engine and Boat manufacturers are of most handsome character. The Dixie won three prizes, the International championship, the mile championship and the free-for-all championship, and she will be awarded a handsome trophy, combining the value of the prizes for all three events. The remainder of the trophies are in the shape of handsome shields of solid silver. The committee of the National Association consisted of Eugene A Riotte, Henry R. Sutphen, John J. Amory, and Hugh S. Gambel, secretary. These gentlemen, with the committee of the Colonial Yacht Club, the members of which have already been named, are to be congratulated upon the successful outcome of their efforts. To Commodore Vestner and the other officers and members of the Colonial Yacht Club the visitors of the occasion owe their thanks for a cordial reception.


At the Poughkeepsie Mark Boat
by C. G. Davis

The telephone in the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club rang at frequent intervals all morning long on Wednesday, September 23, and all asked the same question: "What time will the racers be here?" The Poughkeepsie yachtsmen were very much interested, and as the time drew near for the racers to arrive a fleet of motorboats circled around in the river just below the high, spider-web-like structure of the railway bridge, waiting to see them round the mark boat that was anchored above the bridge in the middle of the river, opposite the old whale docks--for at one time whale ships sailed from Poughkeepsie.

The Minnie I, owned by Mr. Al Trever, of Poughkeepsie, acted as mark boat this year. This is a 37-foot cabin launch, more easily seen by the racers than the small 12-foot skiff which served that purpose last year, and she was easily distinguished from the spectators by a large, square, red flag with the white letters "R.C." meaning Regatta Committee.

Down the river a heavy sea fog, mixed with the smoke from the forest fires, caused a delay in starting the boats until eleven o'clock. Up off Poughkeepsie it had cleared by ten, but even then the smoke remained, narrowing the horizon to about a mile. It was getting close to two o'clock when a little black dot appeared about off Fox's Grove, south of the city. There was no mistaking this for one of the racers; the wings of white water, throbbing yards off either side distinguished her as such. With glasses she could easily be made out. Past the clubhouse she came, fairly flying up the river; tugs and steamers at the docks whistled a welcome; under the bridge the timer on the mark boat set down her time as 1 hour, 53 minutes, and then counted the seconds as the dashing little Vim, running as quietly as a shadow, made a long easy sweep. Her owner, George H. Baker Jr., who was steering her, waved a greeting to the timers. When she passed us in line with the water works chimney, the watch showed 40 seconds; 1:55:40 was the official time. As she crossed the starting line off 140th Street at 11:00:13, her running time up the river, a distance of 69.91 miles, was 2 hours, 55 minutes, 27 seconds. One not acquainted with her might have mistaken her for Den, the first boat around the mark last year--and indeed she is a smaller sister boat--but the little yellow flag, with "H 7" upon it, identified her as Vim. Down stream again flew Vim until off the clubhouse, when she stopped and replenished her supply of gasolene from a rowboat that met her out in the river. Several minutes were lost this way but at 2:04 she was seen to spread her white wings and go on down the river.

A better day for racing such small boats could not have been made to order, so far as the water conditions went; it was absolutely a dead calm most of the way and in some places a very faint southerly air was fanning up stream but not enough to raise any waves. A toy boat could have made the trip so smooth was the surface of the river.

Twenty minutes had almost elapsed when another boat, a white painted hull, was seen coming up stream; she was a longer boat than the Vim, and her flag number "10" announced her as the Speedway 1902., handled by Mr. Patterson. As she made a clean sweep around the judge's boat her time at the same range was 2:15 flat. The faint ticking sound of her cam shafts could be heard, and off the top of her engine a small, thin column of blue smoke told of lubricating oil being liberally used. She looked very pretty with her polished brass hand rails and clean white hull.

The third boat was Elco, steered by Irwin Chase, which made the mark at 2:26:05. Holding her head well up and yet running clean aft to almost no wake at all, she rounded close with practically no noise. She ran into the clubhouse down the river and took on gasolene, starting again at 2:35:20.

Macon, a little mahogany-colored flyer, with a peculiar hump-backed sheer, rounded next, fourth, at 2:50 flat, with Morris M. Whitaker at the steering wheel, hatless as usual, his hair streaming out in the wind. Artful announced herself by the unmuffled "pop-pop-popping" of her motor. She was close behind Macon, her time, taken in line with the chimney, was 2:54:15. Her owner, H. Coons, ran her into the club and replenished his fuel, and then disappeared south down the river.

There was one more boat expected. The Mercury had started according to the telephone message received by the timers, and for her the four men in the mark boat waited until four o'clock, and then gave her up. The anchor was raised, flag taken in and back to the clubhouse went the Minnie I. Just as she was turning in for the club float a mahogany speck, with the usual wings of white spray off either side, was seen coming up near the West shore. Wide open went the throttle and at almost twelve miles an hour the mark boat raced back to hr station, only to find that it was not the Mercury at all but a larger craft bounding up the river. It was learned afterwards that Mercury was disabled by striking a piece of driftwood and was forced to give up.

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

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