1920 Harmsworth Trophy
Miss America Wins British Trophy
Miss America — most appropriately named — won the British International Trophy and that prize will come to this country to be raced for here. Garfield A. Wood, the Detroit enthusiast, is the owner of the successful speed boat and to him must be given all credit for having captured the prize which stands for the world championship of power boats. Mr. Wood sent two boats across the Atlantic, Miss America and Miss Detroit V, the latter being entered in the name of his son, Gar. Wood Jr.
These two were built by the C. C. Smith Boat & Engine Company at Algonac and are each equipped with two Grant-Liberty engines. These engines have twelve cylinders, 5 by 7 inches each. They turn 1,800 revolutions a minute and develop 380 to 450 h.p. each. They weigh 900 lb. each or 2 lb per hp.
Only two races were necessary to complete the series. Miss America won both races with comparative ease. Her best speed was in the second race, when she averaged 53.42 nautical miles an hour over the course. The first lap, which was the only one in which she was let out at all, she made at the rate of 56.41 nautical miles an hour. The British defenders made a sorry exhibition. Engine trouble on the first day marred the contest and on the second day they could not be driven fast enough to make the race close.
The race was a match between England and America. The French and Spanish boats did not materialize. England sent three boats to the line and Miss America and Miss Detroit represented this country.
Whip-Po'-Will Jr., Commodore A. L. Judson's boat, which was to have been the third to represent this country and of which much was expected, caught fire and was burned on Saturday, August 7th, while running a trial over the course. This boat was driven by two American-Bugatti engines and in a trial had shown better than 63 miles an hour. The boat sank in Osborne Bay. George Reis, James Kneeshaw, helmsman and mechanician of the boat, and Henry Pottle, designer of the engines, were on board at the time. They were rescued and suffered nothing more than a drenching.
Six British boats were entered in the eliminating trials, which were held over the course on Thursday, August 4th. Sir Mackay Edgar, whose Maple Leaf IV won the cup in 1912, had two representatives, Maple Leaf V and Maple Leaf VI, both having been built by Saunders. In design these two were practically sister ships, 39 feet long. Maple Leaf V is equipped with four Sunbeam engines. Each engine is twelve cylinders 122 mm. bore by 160 mm. stroke. This is approximately 4 inches by 6¼ inches. The horsepower of each engine is 350, so that this boat had 1,400 h.p. and was by far the most powerful craft in the race. Maple Leaf VI was equipped with two Rolls-Royce engines of 350 h.p. each. Each engine has twelve cylinders. 5½ by 7½ inches.
Tom. Thornvcroft entered Miranda V, a 33-foot boat driven by a Thornycroft twelve-cylinder 5¾ by 7-inch engines developing 375 h.p.
Two Sunbeam-Despujols boats owned by L. Coatalen were in the trials. One was 28 feet 7 inches long and was driven by two Sunbeam engines totalling 700 h.p. This boat was similar in design but smaller to the one that made such a good record at Monaco. A new hull was built in England and, the engines being British, it was entered through the British Motor Boat Club. The other Sunbeam-Despujols was 26 feet long and was driven by one Sunbeam engine.
The sixth boat entered in the trials was Tyreless V, owned by F. Gordon Pratt. This boat is 39 feet 10 inches long and is fitted with two eighteen-cylinder Green engines with bore of 142 mm. and a stroke of 178 mm. driving separate propeller shafts. The total horsepower of these two engines is about 900.
The two Maple Leafs and Sunbeam-Despujols the larger were selected to defend the trophy.
The course laid off by Admiralty officials measured 6.617 nautical miles in length. It was covered five times, making the total distance 33.985 nautical miles. The deed of trust of the trophy requires that the course shall be not less than 25 nor more than 35 nautical miles in length and each round must be not less than 5 or not more than 8 nautical miles in length. The course must be so arranged as to avoid any angle of less than 120° and the distance between any two marks must not be less than 100 yards
The first race was decided on Tuesday, August 10th. Much interest was taken in the race and a large fleet of yachts banked the course and thousands watched the contest from the shore. Miss America practically finished alone, Miss Detroit V and both the Maple Leafs developed engine trouble. Miss Detroit V was in trouble on the fourth round of the course and although she soon started off again she was unable to attain her best speed. The times were: Miss America, 38 minutes 17 2/5 seconds; Maple Leaf VI, 41 minutes 30 seconds; Sunbeam-Despujols 43 minutes 30 seconds; Miss Detroit V, 46 minutes 12¾ seconds; Maple Leaf V finished later.
In the second race the next day Maple Leaf VI got away first, but Miss America soon took the lead. The first round was made in fast time, Miss America covering the distance at the rate of 56.41 nautical miles an hour. After that she slowed down and won easily. It was never necessary to drive her to her limit. The times of this race were: Miss America, 37 minutes 5⅓ seconds, averaging 53.42 nautical miles an hour; Miss Detroit V, 37 minutes 43 4/5 seconds; Maple Leaf V, 37 minutes 59 seconds; Maple Leaf VI, 40 minutes 59 1/5 seconds; Sunbeam-Despujols, 41 minutes 5 1/5 seconds.
The winner was heartily cheered by those who watched the races and Mr. Garfield A. Wood was congratulated by all on his success. The trophy will come back to this country and will be held in Detroit. Miss America was entered through the Miss Detroit Power Boat Association and Miss Detroit V through the Detroit Gold Cup Committee, while the unfortunate Whip-Po'-Will Jr. would have represented the Motor Boat Club of America.
Just how long the trophy will be allowed to remain in this country is uncertain at present. It seems certain though that a challenge will be sent in due course for a race here and probably Sir Mackay Edgar will try once more to carry away the cup. He made three attempts before he was successful in the last series in American waters and he would have been the chief defender against the Disturber in 1914 when the war put an end to all international sport.
Miss America and Miss Detroit V are to be brought home at once and will take part in the race for the Gold Challenge Cup to be held off Detroit on September 10th and the two following days.
(Reprinted from The Rudder, September 1920, pp.3-4, 36)
History Home Page
This page was last revised Thursday, April 01, 2010 .
Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
© Leslie Field, 2006