1924 APBA Gold Cup
Detroit River, Detroit MI, August 29-31,1924


Rainbow IV Wins Gold Cup
Photos by M. Rosenfeld

bullet The Detroit Gold Cup and Sweepstake Races
bullet Rainbow IV Wins Gold Cup
bullet An Error in Our Gold Cup Story
bullet The Gold Cup Class Revisited : 1924

The American Power Boat Association Gold Challenge Cup, for many years the bone of annual contention for the unlimited hydroplane class and more recently the yearly classic for runabouts, has at last passed into the hands of Harry Greening of Hamilton, Ontario, one of the gamest sportsmen and skillful helmsmen in America. Greening has worked hard, worked patiently and worked skillfully to win the Gold Cup. A year ago he had it won, when a cotter-pin failed and on account of an archaic point-scoring system he was practically robbed of the victory. His success this year was a most popular one and every real sportsman applauded the plucky Canadian for the never-say-die spirit which has kept him in the game year after year in spite of many setbacks which would have discouraged a less determined character.

Greening's victory must be shared with George Crouch, who designed Rainbow IV. Crouch is one of the greatest authorities on speedboat design in the world, but he, too, has had more than his share of hard luck. In addition to the honor of having designed Rainbow IV, Crouch also carried off second and third honors with Miss Columbia, the entry of the Columbia Y. C. of New York City and Baby Bootlegger, also of New York.

The races were run in three heats of 30 miles each. Eight boats faced the starter in the first heat and 39 minutes, 31.2 seconds later Rainbow IV swept over the finish line followed a little over a minute later by Baby Bootlegger. Gar Wood in his new Baby America was third and Chapman in Miss Columbia, fourth. Wilgold II, Curtiss Wilgold and Lady Shores followed in order. Ed. Grimm in Miss Mary dropped out.

The second heat. was won by Miss Columbia, which finished in 38 minutes, 27.18 seconds, the best time for any heat. Rainbow IV was second, about one-half minute behind the New York boat, and Baby Bootlegger, third. Curtiss Wilgold, Wilgold II and Baby America were the other finishers. Lady Shores went out in sinking condition. Up to this point Rainbow was in the lead with one first and one second.

A gruelling contest was promised for the final heat. Baby Bootlegger jumped into the lead at the start and was never headed, although Greening and Chapman drove their best to overtake the peculiar, stream-lined boat. Bootlegger finished in 38 minutes, 48.61 seconds, followed by Rainbow in 39:01.42. Miss Columbia was third, after striking some submerged obstruction and bending her propeller and denting the rudder. Jack Williams brought Curtiss Wilgold in fourth and last as Wilgold II went out with propeller-shaft trouble and Gar Wood retired with Baby America with a broken valve, water circulation trouble and something wrong with his ignition. Baby Bootlegger averaged 46.4 miles for the final heat. The best time was made by Miss Columbia, which averaged 46.8 miles to win the second heat.

The inevitable protest, without which no runabout race seems complete, was filed by the owner of Lady Shores against Rainbow IV on the ground that the underbody of the Canadian boat did not comply with the A. P. B. A. rules. The basis for the complaint was that Rainbow IV is of lap-strake construction, which is clearly allowable under the rules. The nigger in the woodpile was that Rainbow is lapped longitudinally above water, but generally athwartships below water. The result is that her planking does form a series of shallow steps which no doubt have a most pronounced lifting effect. We understand that later the protest was withdrawn, possibly when it was found that the trophy would go to New York if Rainbow had been disqualified. In any event the three Crouch boats were clearly superior to the Detroit and Buffalo entries.

The Sweepstakes

bullet The 150-mile Sweepstakes
bullet The Sweepstakes

In point of interest the second annual sweepstakes was the next race on the program. There were originally 17 entries for this 150-mile, $5000-prize race, but only 14 of them lined up for the exceedingly ragged start which, like last year, took much of the interest away from the spectator's point of view. Why these boats cannot get away together is one of the questions which probably will never be answered. For almost a year in advance the exact time of start is known, yet fully half the fleet was hundreds of feet behind the pace-making boat which took the lead in the lap preliminary to the official start.

With his usual good judgment Gar Wood took Miss Detroit VII into first place, closely followed by Gordon Hammersley in his Cigarette Jr. For fifty punishing laps these two boats shot around the three-mile course separated by only a second or two until, with the finish line almost beneath their bows, Hammersley opened up the last notch and almost caught Miss Detroit. Exactly one and fifty-five-one hundreds of a second separated the two boats at the tape. Considering the length of the course this is probably the closest finish ever recorded. The elapsed time for the winner was 3 hours, 4 minutes, 41.63 seconds for the 150 miles. This averages 4.7 miles. Cigarette Jr. averaged 48.65 miles, or one-twentieth of a mile an hour slower.

Phil Wood driving Baby Gar IV was third, nearly 12 minutes behind his brother. Woodfish, owned by Edsel Ford and driven by Johnny Stroh, was fourth ; Baby Bootlegger, fifth; Baby Horace III, sixth; Miss Columbia, seventh; Wilgold II, eighth, and the Bearcat East Wind, ninth. Of the remaining boats, Edsel Ford's Nine-Ninety-Nine caught fire and sunk in the 18th lap; Jerry McCarthy and his Big Jim went out with mechanical difficulties in the 29th round, and Baby Delphine III had enough in the 43d round. Black Cat was hopelessly out-classed and finally withdrew in the 10th lap with a burned-out clutch. The most spectacular of all withdrawals was that of Baby America Too, another of the Wood entries. This boat was driven by George Wood, who had her well up with the leaders as he neared the finish of the fourth round. Suddenly he swung off the course at full speed and headed the boat ashore almost directly in front of the clubhouse and behind the judges' float. With perfect judgment he sent the bow of the boat up an incline built out from the bank, presumably upon which to haul-out rowboats, and he and his mechanician jumped out just as the boat sunk by the stern. It was a remarkable piece of driving ability and the crowd applauded his plucky and successful attempt to save the boat after some obstruction had ripped a hole in her bottom.

Junior Gold Cup

The series for the Junior Gold Cup, offered last winter by Harry Greening and the late Col. Thomas A. Duff, did not bring out nearly as many entries as the event warranted. Under the A. P. B. A. rules the series shall be run annually the same as for the Gold Cup and the same rules shall pertain with the exception that the boats can be smaller and have less power. Only five boats entered the first heat, four being from the Detroit Y. C. and powered with Scripps engines and the fifth a Canadian entry with a Kermath. Lady Helen, owned by Aaron De Roy and driven by Dick Lock, covered the 30 miles at a speed of a little bit better than 30 miles an hour. The boat is a special craft designed by Hacker on the lap-strake principle and is a handsome little craft. The Kermath-powered Struan II was second, just a little under a minute behind Lady Helen. Three Dodge Watercars took third, fourth and fifth places.

The time in the second heat was somewhat slower than in the initial race and again Lady Helen beat Struan II by a margin of seconds. The final heat was still slower and a repetition of the others, for Lady Helen still had the edge on Struan II and the Watercars brought up in the rear. Incidentally, Struan is a remarkably fine general service runabout and just the sort of boat fostered by the rules.

With as fine a prize as the Greening-Duff trophy, it seems as if there should be a score of entries in this event, and next year will probably see the event one of the most popular in the country unless the boats produced become out and out racing machines with rule-beating bottoms.

Sallan Trophy Race

While the Sallan trophy race cannot be said to be of national importance like the speedboat events, there is always a tremendous amount of local interest in the race and cruising boats from all over the lakes often participate. The race is run in three heats of 25 miles each. In the first heat the boats are sent away on their handicaps as figured according to A. P. B. A. rules, and in the second and final heats the times made in the pre-ceding heats are taken in allotting the allowances. There were nineteen starters, and the timers and judges had a great time in getting the boats away in the proper order and then figuring the allowances for the next heat. There was more or less of a mix-up as might be expected, but the final awards gave Omer Brandon in Miss Liberty the first prize of $1,000. Com. Schantz in Silverheels II took second place and Mark Hanna's Le Bobbette, third.

Main Sheet Trophy

Lots of fun as well as some really remarkable speeds developed in the race of outboard-powered boats for the Main Sheet trophy. Three classes were run, the first being for boats having engines of less than 12 cubic inches; this race was won by Long Green, property of W. R. Doak and powered with a Johnson motor. Class B, for motors under 17 cubic inches, was won by the Caille-powered Skipper owned by F. Kirk. The final race was for unlimited engines of the outboard type and was won by A. B. Cohn with twin Evinrudes in spite of the fact that Gar Wood and Harry Greening went into partnerships, produced a boat and powered it with three Johnson engines. Possibly the triple installation was too much for the two speed experts, but anyway Greenwood was ahead last to the evident delight of the crowds who guyed Gar and Harry to their hearts' content.

ChrisCraft Invitation

A race which from the spectacular point of view was perhaps the greatest success of the meet was the Chris-craft invitation race for the fine little runabouts built by Smith. About a dozen of these boats went over the line to a perfect start and the noise of their exhausts was almost drowned by the clicking of camera-shutters as the photo-hounds preserved the sight for posterity. At the upper turn it seemed sure that some boat woo ld be swamped, but all hands, green drivers as well as experienced racing men, managed to get out of the mess and straighten away for the longer run to the lower buoy. The event was finally won by Jul-Ed, with Woodfish second and Babe, driven by the nervy Miss Trites, in third place.

Connolly Trophy

Another somewhat similar runabout race was for the Connolly trophy for boats of not less than 25 miles speed powered with engines of less than 1000-cubic-inch displacement. The event was complicated by a handicapping system which caused all sorts of trouble. The basis nor the handicap is consistency, the boat having the least variation winning. After it was all over it was announced that the boat which had finished last, with the rather appropriate name of Past Due, had shown the least variation in time per lap and was therefore the winner. The spectators were rather jumbled in their minds as to what it was all about, but the drivers and their friends had some fun at any rate.

Aaron de Roy Trophy

Last, but not necessarily least, was the De Roy trophy event. This also is a handicap affair with allowances figured from actual runs over the course. Unfortunately, at the time of going to press we are rather uncertain as to just what boat won, and as the official sheets do not seem to make this clear we trust the entrants and the donor will forgive us if we pass up the results with our confession of ignorance of the true conditions.

It would be impolite, even if not almost impossible, to leave a story of the Detroit races without mentioning the wonderful arrangements made by the Detroit Y. C. to carry out so extensive a program of racing. It is doubtful if there is another club in America with the finances and the sporting proclivities required for an affair of this kind. The timing system, which worked mechanically so that times to the hundredth part of a second were imprinted upon a tape, the wireless broadcasting station, the patrol system, and the thousand and one other details were taken care of in a most efficient manner. As usual, scores of out-of-town enthusiasts were on hand and the Regatta Circuit Riders' headquarters was open 24 hours a day with entertainment and the good hand of fellowship extended to all.

(Reprinted from The Rudder, October 1924, pp. ?)


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