1921 Detroit Regatta
Detroit River, Detroit MI, August 27-September 5 1921

Wood-Fisher Trophy Race, Gold Cup Race, Detroit Trophy, Cruiser Race, British International Trophy (Harmsworth)


Miss America II Keeps the B. I. Trophy at Home
A Long and Varied Program at Detroit Brings Out Fast Time and Shatters Records

With the Detroit Yacht Club holding both the British International Trophy and the Gold Cup, the latter the prize trophy of the A. P. B. A., and in addition the Lake George Trophy for the mile trials, it was a foregone conclusion that Detroit would stage this year the biggest power boat regatta ever held in this country. When they do things in Detroit they do them right, and stop at no halfway measures, and the program the committee arranged was both varied and attractive and promised racing for almost any kind of boat one might own. Also the arrangements made for the racing were excellent, the courses for the speed events being laid out on the Detroit River, and everything was set for a big list of starters and the finest kind of a time.

The events scheduled in addition to the B. I. T. race, the Gold Cup and Lake George Trophy races already mentioned, were those for the Wood-Fisher Trophy for displacement runabouts, the Great Lakes Trophy for express cruisers, the Sallan Trophy, the Detroit Trophy, the Scripps Motor Trophy, the Miller Cup, etc. In fact, the list of prizes offered listened like an inventory, of the Tiffany Silverware Department. Also, the list of entries received was most encouraging and gave promise of a big fleet of starters. But, when it came down to actualities, only a small percentage of the entrants in the high speed events showed up at the line and from a competitive point of view the races suffered in consequence. "Gar" Wood and his fleet of flyers were on hand as they always are, and nearly every event had one or more of the Commodore's boats entered, and whether this fact scared others off is not known. If it did, it does not speak well for the sportsmanship of the motor boat racing fraternity, for being willing to finish in the nick if one cannot finish in the van is part of the ethics of the game.

Outside of the Wood fleet, consisting of Miss America, Miss America II, Baby Gar, and Gar Jr. II, only five American boats showed up for the speed boat events and of these one sank and another appeared only in one race in which she was disqualified for cutting (unintentionally) some of the buoys. Allowing for all the accidents and unavoidable delays that might account for a boat's failure to show up, this is a situation which ought not to be and which must be remedied if racing of this kind is to last. "Gar" Wood has undoubtedly gone into the sport in a way to insure success, but that in itself should not deter others from trying their best. No man is unbeatable, and when someone comes along that can beat "Gar," it is a foregone conclusion that the Commodore will stick along and be content to take the other's wake until he can come out on top again. It is this spirit that makes racing worthwhile. In the big events the Gold Cup Race, and the B. I. T. race only Sheldon Clark, of the Chicago Y. C., in Miss Chicago, was willing (or able) to go against the higher powered Wood boats, but with true sporting instinct he stuck to the job and got all out of his boat there was and, incidentally, a number of prizes. If others had been willing to do the same, it would have added much to the sport.

One other point may be mentioned in passing before going on to the races themselves. That is the fact that in the unlimited speed classes all the American boats had the same make of engine, the Liberty aero motor, altered for marine use. This, also, detracts somewhat from the interest in such events, and the ends of the sport would be better served if various types of motors were represented. If a certain motor gives the service required of it, no fault can he found for its almost universal use, but the future development of the marine motor for high speed can best be served by the use of various makes and types of marine engines.

The Wood-Fisher Trophy Race

The first big event on the schedule was the race for the new Wood-Fisher Trophy, consisting of three heats of 50 miles each, on August 27, 29, and 30. The conditions were practically the same as those for the Fisher-Allison Trophy, being for open displacement runabouts, with any type of motor whose maximum piston displacement is not over 3,000 cubic inches. In the Fisher-Allison Trophy only stock marine motors are eligible.

For this race three boats came to the line, Baby Gar, a Wood boat, with a single Liberty motor; Nick Nack, owned by Commodore Humphrey Birge of Buffalo, a Hacker-designed boat, powered with a single Hall-Scott marine motor like the original one in Adieu when she won the Fisher Trophy at Miami this year, and Aye Aye Sir, owned by C. G. Fisher, of Miami. She is the same boat that raced at Buffalo, but has had some alterations in the way of spray boards attached to the chine forward to aid in lifting her out of the water.

Orlo III, a Hickman sea sled, owned by Geo. Leary, was on hand with a pair of new Liberty motors in place of the Murray S Tregurtha pair she had at Buffalo, but as her piston displacement was greater than the conditions allowed she was not eligible. As these conditions were changed after Orlo III was designed with this race in view, there was some feeling in the matter and Orlo III was allowed to start with the other boats, but not to compete for the prize.

Baby Gar won all three heats, with Nick Nack second on points. What the Wood boat could have done is not known, as her owner says she was not "let out" in any of the heats. Yet she went fast enough to make three world's records for displacement boats, averaging 42.5 miles for the three heats of 150 miles, and 44.2 miles for her best 50-mile heat.

Nick Nack, handled by Commodore F. G. Ericson, with less than half the horsepower of Baby Gar, being equipped with a 6-cylinder 200 H. P. Hall-Scott marine type engine, also smashed existing records for boats powered with marine engines, and gave a remarkable exhibition of speed and consistency. She went through the three grueling heats without having to lift the engine hatches once during the races. In the first race Nick Nack made the second lap of 2 miles at the rate of 42.15 miles per hour, a world's record for marine-engined displacement boats, and the 50 miles at the rate of 41.3 miles per hour, also a record, the best 50 miles made previously being by Orlo III at Buffalo at an average of 39.8. The latter boat had at that time two 300 H. P. motors. Nick Nack averaged for the three heats, a total of 150 miles, 40.6 miles per hour, which is 2.3 miles per hour better than the previous record for that distance. Commodore Birge is to be commended for entering this speedy little flyer against Baby Gar, when, barring accidents, it was a foregone conclusion she could not win the trophy.

Orlo III ran a very fast race and pushed Baby Gar on the straightaways, but being a big boat with a wide turning radius, she lost on the turns. Her best lap was at the rate of 49.4 mile per hour.

The summary of the three heats follows :

Summary, Wood-Fisher Trophy Race

First Heat

Boat, Owner and Club

10 Miles

20 Miles

30 Miles

40 Miles

Elapsed Time

Speed. M.P.H.

Best Lap

Points

Baby Gar, G. A. Wood. Detroit Y. C

14:06.8

28:05.7

42:11.3

56:06.1

1:09:33

43.1

43.7

7

Orlo III, Gem Leary, M. B. C. of A

16:08.8

30:09.2

43:35.6

59:06.2

1:10:11

42.6

45

 

Nick Nack, H. Barre, Buffalo L. C

15:05.2

29:23.7

43:41.0

58:05.2

1:12:33

41.3

42.1

6

Aye Aye Sir, C. G. Fisher, Miami Beach Y. C

15:24.5

30:31.1

45:37.7

1:00:44.4

1:16:03

39.4

 

5

Second Heat

Baby Gar

14:48.4

29:24.7

43:12.5

58:50.3

1:13:52

40.7

43.2

14

Nick Nack

15:03.4

29:47.2

44:33.4

59:35.7

1:14:36

40.15

40.8

12

Aye Aye Sir

16:44.3

32:14.6

47:46.3

1:04:46.2

1:20:26

37.4

35.5

10

Orlo III

DNS

             

Third Heat

Baby Gar

13:22

26:33.6

40:27.4

54:17.9

1:07:51

44.2

46.5

21

Nick Nack

15:09.6

30:00.4

44:11.7

59:20.8

1:14:05

40.5

41.65

18

*Orlo III

13:36.5

26:44.9

41:57.1

54:49.0

1:15:50

39.4

49.4

 

Aye Aye, Sir

16:19.7

32:16.2

48:18.3

1:04:23.3

1:20:41

37.2

 

15

* Racing by courtesy.

The Gold Cup Race

In the Gold Cup Race only two starters showed up the first day, Miss America and Miss Chicago. It was evident that the former would win, barring accidents, but Sheldon Clark's boat gave the champion a good race. In the second heat Orlo III also started, but finished third, over a minute behind the Chicago boat, and as she had missed the first heat, she did not come out again. During the third race it began to rain heavily and the race was called off after two laps, Miss America being at that time a sure winner of the trophy as long as she finished. The summary follows :

The Gold Cup Race

Three 30-Mile Heats Laps, 5 Miles

First Heat

Boat, Owner and Club

1st

2nd

3d

4th

5th

6th

Elapsed Time

Speed M.P.H.

Best Lap

Points

Miss America, G. A. Wood, Detroit Y. C

5:21

5:01.7

5:04.4

4:45.2

6:12.6

6:02.6

31:51.9

56.5

62.15

12

Miss Chicago, Chicago Y. C. Syndicate

5:15.2

5:02

5:01.2

4:55.9

5:24.1

6:45.1

35:15

51.0

60.2

11

Second Heat

Miss America

5:44.4

5:28.9

6:00.5

6:02.9

6:15.4

6:10.9

35:43.4

50.5

54.7

24

Miss Chicago

6:16.3

5:49.0

6:00.6

6:13.4

6:11.1

6:00.6

36:31.1

49.4

51.5

22

Orlo III

6:23.3

6:00.0

6:57.5

6:11.3

5:59.1

6:15.9

37:47.2

45.2

50.15

10

Third Heat

Miss America

6:44.3

6:08.9

       

12:52.8

49.0

43.5

36

Miss Chicago

7:12.7

7:20.6

       

14:33.3

41.2

43.0

33

The Detroit Trophy Race

In the race for the Detroit Trophy, presented by Mayor Couzens of Detroit, Miss Chicago, Baby Sure Cure, owned by P. Strassburg, and Miss Belle Isle II, were the contenders, the latter running only the second day. Baby Sure Cure won the first heat, Miss Chicago the second and third heats. Baby Sure Cure turned turtle, taking one of the turns in the second heat, and qualified her owner and mechanician for the Hydro Helldivers Association, the former sustaining three broken ribs. Miss Belle Isle cut some buoys and was disqualified. The results were:

In the mile trials, on August 31, Sheldon Clark established a record for single-engined boats when he drove Miss Chicago over the course 6 times, with and against the current, at the rate of 70.95 miles. Miss America, with double the power, did not equal her record of last year and could only hang up 74.87 miles per hour.

Detroit Trophy

First Heat

Boat, Owner and Club

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

nth

Elapsed Time

Baby Sure Cure, P. Strassburg, D. B. C

5:03.2

4:49.3

4:53.1

4:51.9

6:03.6

4:59.2

30:40.3

Miss Chicago, Chicago Y. C. Syndicate

5:00.8

4:49.5

4:53.5

4:52.6

6:51.3

8:41.8

35:09.4

Second Heat

Miss Chicago

5:45.7

6:58:6

5:16.9

5:29.7

5:35.6

5:27.7

34:04.3

*Miss Belle Isle II, M. Shippicasse, D.Y.C

5:55.8

6:02.3

5:30.2

5:26.2

5:21.5

5:36.7

33:52.3

Baby Sure Cure

Did not finish

         

Third Heat

Miss Chicago

9:33.1

10:29.2

       

20:02.3

The Cruiser Races

After the scarcity of boats in the speed events it was a pleasure to see the fleets in the cruiser and express cruiser races. The race for the Sallan Trophy brought 21 starters to the line (it was for boats of no more than 17 miles speed) and the winner of the three 25-mile heats turned up in Two P. M., owned by Commodore C. D. Cutting. Four boats turned up for the express cruiser race for the Great Lakes Trophy. Miss Liberty II, a 62-footer, owned by Humphrey Birge of Buffalo, finished first with an average of 23.18 miles per hour, after a hot race with Commodore Kotcher's Betty M, the Sea Horse being third.

The British International Trophy Race

The great interest in the regatta. however, was centered on the B. I. T. race for which England sent over Maple Leaf VII, owned by Sir E. Mackay Edgar, and in charge of Col. A. W. Tate, who drove one of the British contestants in the race at Cowes last year.

It was not considered necessary to hold a series of elimination races to pick the American team of three boats which the terms of the contest allow, as it was considered that Miss America II, a new boat owned by "Gar" Wood, and powered with four Liberty aero motors, Miss America I, winner of last year's race, and Miss Chicago, were the three most dependable boats.

The first race for this trophy was postponed from September 3 to 5, due to an accident to Maple Leaf while tuning up. This boat is a radical departure from the English speed boats which have raced for this trophy in the past and she looked more like some of the American boats turned out by Chris Smith. She is a single step plane about 32 feet in length by 9 feet. 2 inches beam, and she is powered with four Sunbeam motors aggregating 1,800 H. P., the engines being those that were used in Maple Leaf V last year. She looked very fast and in her trials had shown great bursts of speed. She had, however, the same lope or hobby horse motion (though to a lesser extent) that was apparent in the English boats of last year, and in this respect she did not run with the same smoothness and balance of the American boats.

When the boats got the gun for the first 40-mile heat the four entries came down for the line in the most spectacular start of the entire meeting. Going apparently over 70 miles an hour, Maple Leaf VII was first over in a tremendous burst of speed, 12 seconds after the gun. Following her but a few lengths behind came Miss America II, her 48 exhausts going like a rapid fire gun, while close behind her were Miss America I and Miss Chicago. "Gar" Wood, in the new Miss America, opened up wide and gradually closed up on the Britisher until at the first buoy he was close astern of her, and as they went up the backstretch he passed Maple Leaf and took the lead. At this point the first Miss America, with George Wood at the wheel, had drawn abeam of the challenger and Miss Chicago was also closing up on her. As they came into the home stretch Miss America I was in the lead with Maple Leaf running third and Miss Chicago last and in this position they went by the judges' stand at the completion of the first lap. It was seen then that Maple Leaf had slowed down somewhat and on the second lap Miss Chicago caught and passed the challenger, who was evidently in trouble, for a little later she stopped, started to fill with water and settled by the stern. A patrol boat went to her assistance, gave her a line and towed her into a slip, but she sank just before she could be lifted out of the water, the bottom of the boat having been smashed by the terrific pounding she received in one lap.

This, of course, put her out of the series for good and on the third lap Miss America II again took the lead. While she was not opened up she finished the 40-mile heat in 46 minutes, 16.2 seconds, or at the rate of 59.8 statute miles per hour. Her best lap was at the rate of 71.1 statute miles per hour. Miss America I, which has been one of the most consistent performers, also sprang a leak in the fourth round and was forced to make for her slip. This let Miss Chicago finish in second place. She completed the course in 54 minutes, 48 seconds, or at an average of 50.3 miles per hour.

In the mile trials Miss America II averaged 80.567 miles per hour.

(Reprinted from Yachting, October 1921, pp.167-170, 195)


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