1909 Palm Beach Mid-Winter Carnival

The Races at Palm Beach

The Races at Palm Beach
The Palm Beach Races

The first gun of the coming season was fired at Palm Beach on the morning of March 16 with the opening of the Fifth Annual Lake Worth Motor Boat Carnival and Races. While a majority of boats in more northern latitudes had hardly been stripped of their winter coverings, a number of owners of speedy craft, with a desire to be on the water early and a lust for silver mugs, had shipped their boats to the soft airs and hotel-lines banks of Lake Worth to be in at the opening of the Eastern season.

On the whole, the entries were not up to the high class seen at some of the previous meets, Dixie and General, of last year, being absent; but there were a number of others of sufficiently high speed to hold the interest of a large crowd of spectators and provide excellent racing for the four days. As last year, the motor boat fever was in the air. it mingled with the fumes of gasolene and whatever people foregathered, on dock, beach or hotel piazza, the one subject of conversation was the races.

Buffalo Courier and Trente-Sept showed to the best advantage, the former, with an average of 27 miles per hour in the 90-mile endurance contest, being the speediest boat at the meet, while the latter, a Florida-built boat, was the most consistent performer and won the largest number of prizes. it was unfortunate that the racing should have been marred by the disqualification on the last day of the meet of the Buffalo Courier in the speed record trials for the palm beach Cup under circumstances that might lead to the interference of unsportsmanlike action.

The races were held over a course of 4 nautical miles in length, the two sides being parallel and the ends circular. The endurance run of 90 miles was held over this same course, the distance requiring 20 circuits to be made. It was after winning the endurance run that Buffalo Courier's disqualification in the earlier speed-record trials was announced, the reasons given being the withdrawal of the boat without apparent cause from one of the events in which she had been entered, and the charge made by the regatta committee that she had failed to show her true speed in the speed-record trials for the Palm Beach Cup.

These speed-record trials were over a mile course, the average of six trials being taken. They were the opening event of the regatta, and three boats were entered--Buffalo Courier, Trente-Sept and Bruiser. The former averaged 26.001 statute miles (she made 27.52 in the endurance race); Trente-Sept did not push her very hard with an average of 23.696 miles, while Bruiser did 22.809 miles. Courier thus won the event handily; but owing to her subsequent disqualification, the prize--the handsome Palm Beach Challenge Cup--went to Trente-Sept. The cup has to be won twice by the same owner before becoming his property.

The handicaps, or time allowance, on the other races were figured in accordance with the ratings under the A.P.B.A. measurement rule for Class a boats, and in accordance with the actual speed performances for Classes B, C, BC, D, E, DE, the endurance run and consolation race.

In the 9-mile speed contest for Florida-designed-and-built boats, held the afternoon of the 16th, Trente-Sept had an easy time of it, and won in 27 m. 13 s., with Dennison III second and Possum third. There was a strong wind blowing and the water was somewhat rough at the start of the 9-mile race for the Benjamin Douglas Cup for Class a boats. Kitty Sparks II managed to slip over the finish line 32 seconds ahead of Trente-Sept, while Buffalo Courier came in third, 1 minute 19 seconds later, not overcoming her handicap.

On the following day, Wednesday, the wind was still fresh and the water somewhat lumpy, which made the going rather wet for the contestants. In the first event of the day for the Meridian Britannia Cup for boats under 12 miles speed but two boats were entered, Clarita and Winifred. The latter exceeded her handicap allowance by 4 min. 7 sec., which gave the victory to Carita. Both of the other races of the morning furnished lots of excitement, and Trente-Sept had a great day of it, winning both events. In the first, Nebo crossed the finish line 34 seconds ahead of Trente-Sept, but was disqualified for having crossed the starting line ahead of time. Flying Fish finished a close third. In the other event, Class B-C, for the Greenleaf and Crosby prize, Bruiser was penalized 22 seconds for exceeding her handicap, which forced her back into second place and gave the race to Trente-Sept. Buffalo Courier could not overcome her handicap in this event.

The race of the afternoon for the White Rock Cup, distance 9 miles, brought together the speediest boats at the meet and attracted the greatest interest among the spectators. After a cracking good race, in which Buffalo Courier, after starting last, overhauled all the other boats and finally finished 54 seconds ahead of Bruiser, it was found that the former had exceeded her handicap by just 54 seconds, and the two boats were thus tied for first place. Flying Fish came in third, 9 seconds later, while Trente-Sept, Kitty Sparks II and Messenger finished in the order named. In running off the tie the next day, Buffalo Courier beat Bruiser by the small margin of 6 seconds.

There were five other contests on the card the next day, and again Trente-Sept made the best showing, though at all times Buffalo Courier pressed her closely whenever they came together.

But two events were scheduled for the last day--the 90-mile endurance race and a consolation race for those boats that had not won at the meet. The weather was ideal and the water smooth as the 90-mile event was started in the morning. The conditions of the race were that the winner was to receive the Beach Club trophy, while the Reed & Barton cup went to the boat whose time-average varied the least for all the laps. it was a hard, grueling contest from start to finish, and Buffalo Courier, with a handicap of 3 hours and 14 minutes over the first starter, finished 9 min. 10 sec. ahead of Messenger. Flying Fish won the consolation race from Bruiser, which race brought the carnival to a close.

(Excerpts transcribed from Yachting, May 1909, pp. 379-381. )

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

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Leslie Field, 2002