1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition Regatta
Lake Washington, Seattle, WA, July 3-10, 1909

Wolff II Fast In Speed Boat Race
Portland Craft Makes the Thirty Miles in Marvelous Time
Pacer Second by Five Minutes
World’s Record is Claimed—Chance for an Argument

A.-Y.-P. Exposition Speed Boat Regatta

Fast Speed-boats Will Start on the Lake Tomorrow

Motor-boats to Speed Up Today

Wolff II Fast in Speed-boat Race

Captain Spencer Talks About Wonderful Run of Wolff II

Wolff II and Pacer Win Races

Wolff II Again Defeats Pacer

Portland Motor Boat is Sure-Enough Flyer

Thirty-Two-Foot Class Motor Boats Race Today

Wolff II Wins in Final Heat

Wolff II of Portland Again Defeats Pacer

Endurance Motor Boat Race Today

Fast Motor Boat Breaks Propeller

Pacer Breaks Propeller and has to Quit Race

Exposition Races at Seattle

Regatta of the Northwestern International Yacht Racing Association on Puget Sound

Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Speed Boat Regatta

The Portland speed boat, Wolf II, owned by Capt. J. E. Wolff and Capt. E. W. Spencer, won the feature event of the first day’s exposition motor boat racing on lake Washington yesterday afternoon, defeating the much-touted Pacer, of Seattle, in the fastest race of its kind ever held in the West.

It was the first competitive test of the white phantom, and she circled the ten-mile triangle three times, a total of thirty miles, in the wonderful time of 50 minutes 25 1-5 seconds. The Pacer was second by about five minutes. It is claimed that the Wolff, a Pacific coast boat both in ownership and construction, now holds the world’s record. Opposed to this contention is that relative to the Dixie, alleged to be the record holder. The Dixie, however, is a boat of much greater power than the Wolff II, and the motor boat statisticians have something to figure on.

Watched Husbands Race

In her great speed run the Wolff II was steered by Capt. E. W. Spencer, of Portland, one of the best-known steamboat men in the Pacific Northwest, while Capt. J. E. Wolff, the builder of the speed marvel, alone had charge of the engine. Mrs. Spencer and Mrs. Wolff, who came to Seattle to see the test of Mr. Wolff’s latest creation, were present and watched the race from the exposition grounds.

The races were held under the auspices of the Seattle Motor Boat Club, and the final heats will continue next Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The winning boats yesterday will be given points according to their relative positions at the end of each race. The total number of points at the end of the week’s trials will decide the winners. The winners of each class will be presented with handsome silver loving cups now on exhibition in one of the downtown jewelry stores.

The day’s programme did not commence on time yesterday and as a result, the last boat did not cross the finish line until nearly 7 o’clock. The officials have promised to remedy this in the future, however, and all the remaining races will begin at 2 o’clock sharp.

The boats started off a stake boat in Union bay, near the lake entrance to the exposition, and finished the last leg of the race at the point of starting. The course was ten miles in length, from the judges’ boat to Madison park, from Madison park to Leschi, thence to medina, and thence home to the finish.

Big Bet On the Race

The first event of the afternoon was the feature of the five races, and excited the most interest among the motor boat fans. The Portland boat. Wolff II, owned and in charge of Capt. E. W. Spencer and Capt. J. E. Wolff, was known to be fast, but the Seattle men in charge of the Pacer had plenty of money up that their speed marvel could win. Spencer and Cox of the Pacer, are so confident as to the outcome of the four days’ racing, that they have risked $1,000 on the outcome.

The entries for the thirty-mile free-for-all race were the Wolff II, of Portland, owned by W. E. Spencer and Capt. J. E. Wolff, equipped with a 110-horse power, six-cylinder Smalley engine, five and a half-bore and five and a half-stroke; her length over all is forty feet, with a five-foot beam; Pacer, of Seattle, formerly owned by Louis Roesch, but entered by Robert F. Cox, of Portland, equipped with a 120-horse power Leighton engine, she measures thirty-two feet, with a five-foot beam; Seattle Spirit, of Seattle, owned by Charles Binkley and Emerson Reed, builders and designers, equipped with a Scripps engine capable of developing 100 horse power; the boat is thirty-two feet long, with a five-foot beam, and the Lawana, of Seattle, owned by J. F. Brown, of New York, equipped with a 40-horse power Roberts engine.

Wolff Goes to the Front

The Pacer and Seattle Spirit went over the line about even from a flying start. The Wolff II sparked a moment later and was after them like a hurricane and picked up the intervening distance in quick order. After this the Wolff II was never headed.

For fifteen minutes the expectant crowd waited to catch sight of the racers as they returned for the second lap. M. Robert Guggenheim, well-known as the promoter of the trans-continental automobile contest, dressed in a natty white suit, a white cap and white shoes, was the first man to see the returning motor boat approach through the light mist towards the exposition dock. As the flyer neared the starting point, a white line on the lake, going at the rate of thirty miles an hour, she was almost immediately distinguished as the Wolff II. She passed the buoy in eighteen minutes and three seconds, which is remarkable time. The Pacer turned the buoy, followed closely by the Lawana. The Spirit had trouble with her carburetor and dropped out of the race. At the end of the second lap the Lawana dropped out, having broken her steering gear. The Wolff led the Pacer by a half mile at the beginning of the third lap and finished the race with a grand burst of speed and making nearly thirty-two miles an hour. Her official time for the thirty miles was fifty minutes twenty-five and 0ne-fifth seconds. Wolff and Spencer claim the world’s record for their performance. The fastest time on record for American motor boats was made in 1908 on the Hudson river over a straight course, where the Dixie II is said to have made thirty-seven miles an hour. The Dixie, however, is a much more powerful boat than the Wolff, having a twenty-cylinder engine, generating 600 horse power, so the claims for the Portland men for a boat over forty feet long, with 110-horse power, will doubtless be recognized.

The Pacer won the twenty-mile event for boats 32 feet or under in a little less than 43 minutes. The Lawana put up a classy race and was less than a minute behind. The Seattle Spirit and the Aries did not finish.

S. V. B. Miller’s Lady Jane Gray and G. T. Hilderbrand’s Pokey, of Olympia, had no opposition in the 26 and 22-foot class. The Ayacanora also ran alone, making tem miles in something over 51 minutes.

(Transcribed from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, July 4, 1909, p. 4.)

{The writer was obviously unknowing as to the details of the 1908 Dixie II’s engine; twenty cylinders and 600 horsepower??? Never did any Dixie of any kind ever have such an engine, as the readers of this website can plainly tell from the many national publications that covered the power boat scene. This claim is both indefensible and unexplainable – GWC}

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

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Leslie Field, 2002