1927 Detroit Regatta
Detroit River, Detroit MI, September? 1927

Detroit News International Trophy, Sweepstakes Race and Detroit Yacht Club Development Class


Little Spitfire Wins International Event at Detroit
British German and Canadian Boats Add to the Interest of the Big Detroit Regatta
By Herbert L. Stone

They certainly know how to run power boat regattas out in Detroit! Nowhere else in the United States are races between high speed craft as interning, as colorful and as well run as those on the Detroit River, where an ideal course is laid out between the handsome home of the Detroit Yacht Club on Belle Isle and the jetty to the north of it.

There speed boat racing becomes a spectacle which draws thousands upon thousands, and the arrangements are so well made that the thrills that come only with excessively high speed upon the water are imparted to the spectators as well as to the competitors themselves.

While America's most coveted speed trophy, the Gold Cup, was not on the racing program at Detroit his year, other events of equal importance took the place of the race for this famous mug, and "Eddie" Edenburn, of the Race Committee of the Yachtsman's Association of America, worked out a well-balanced card that promised, and was productive of, the best of sport. He also succeeded in getting together the largest and best fleet of flyers of the entire season.

An international aspect was given the regatta by the presence of no less than five foreign boats, four of which had been brought across the Atlantic to try conclusions with the Americans. Two of these were from England Newg, owned by Miss M. B. Carstairs, and winner last year of the Duke of York Trophy, and Miss Betty, E. Johnston Noad's 1 litre boat. Both of these craft had succumbed to Little Spitfire in the race for the Duke of York Trophy in August, off Southampton. Then there were two little German boats, 1-litre class, Sigrid V and Sigrid VI, owned by R. C. and Mrs. R. C. Kreuger. The fifth international entry was Harry Greening's new Rainbow VI, entered in the Detroit Yacht Club Development Class.

To meet these four boats from the other side for an International Trophy put up by the Detroit News, only two American boats started, Little Spitfire, owned by J. H. Rand, Jr., and driven by Ralph Snoddy, and Hornet, Gibson Bradfield owner. The latter did not prove of much value as a defender, as she was forced out by a broken oil line on the second lap of the first heat, after a late start, leaving the burden of the defense up to Little Spitfire. Hornet did not start again. None of the invaders were the equal of Little Spitfire in speed, and she always had the race well in hand during each of the three 15-mile heats, barring accidents.

In each heat Little Spitfire, fresh from her victory in England, proved her superior speed. In each her rivals got the jump at the start, and in each she soon went to the front, and, running easily with a lot of uncorked speed up her sleeve, stayed there. Her best speed for a heat was 37.55 m.p.h.; but it was enough, and she finished with a perfect score of 1200 points. Neal, driven by Frederick Cooper, was second in all three heats and gave her the closest run of any of the foreign teams. Sigrid V, did the better of the two German boats, but her best speed was only 31.89 m.p.h. Mrs. Kreuger drove Sigrid VI, but after a fair showing in the first heat she was towed off the course in the second. Both the German boats were built for smooth water, and did not have the power or stamina of Little Spitfire. The latter's speed on her best 3-mile lap was 38.81 m.p.h. She is capable of better than this. Newg's best lap was at the rate of 37.08 miles and Miss Betty, the other English boat, was just a trifle slower.

The point score for the International event was as follows: Little Spitfire, 1200; Newg, 1083; Miss Betty, 902; Sigrid V, 869; Sigrid VI, 580.

In the annual Sweepstakes Race Detroit pulls off each year the longest motor boat race held anywhere in the world. One hundred and fifty miles in length 50 times around the 3-mile course is enough to try the endurance of any high speed craft. It is usually a survival of the fittest, many of the contestants not being able to stand the hot pace for over three hours of wide-open running, and this year was no exception to the rule. Of the seven high-class unlimited racers which faced the starter, only one, Miss Syndicate, finished the long grind. Two others were still on the course when the Dodge entry flashed across the finish line, but they were then flagged off the course and credited with second and third places. The other four dropped by the wayside for one reason or another. Baby Skylark, the most unfortunate of the starters, turned turtle on the fourth lap, and so ended her troubles.

Miss Syndicate, owned and driven by Horace E. Dodge, came into her own at last, and her owner won a well-deserved victory in a major event after years of heartbreaking disappointment and hard luck, during which he had spent a fortune in the development of fast boats. Leaving his hard luck behind him, he drove a masterful race, using great judgment and victory perched upon his boat's bow at last. Miss Syndicate, built and raced last year without success, had been groomed for this event. She is a sleek, black-hulled racer, and covered the long course without a whimper at a speed of 47.478 m.p.h., slightly below the record. But after her sister boat, Sister Syn, owned by Mrs. Delphine E. Cromwell, dropped out on the 23rd lap with a broken shaft, she was not pushed and Dodge conservatively slowed her down so as to keep a safe lead. Otherwise she would have bettered her average speed, as her best lap was at the rate of 53.973 m.p.h., and many, of her early laps were at better than 50 miles.

Here is how the score stood at the finish:

Yachtsman's Association of America Sweepstakes 150 Miles

Boat

Owner

Driver

Elapsed Time

Best Lap

Miss Syndicate

H. E. Dodge

H. E. Dodge

3:09:33

53.973

Solar Plexus

H. E. Dodge

F. G. Erickson

Flagged in 2nd place

49.346

Baby Gar VIII

Gar Wood

W. Sanborn

Flagged in 3rd place

49.391

Sister Sys

D. E. Cromwell

Bill Horn

Broken shaft

54.027

Bottoms Up

J. H. R. Cromwell

J. H. R. Cromwell

Clutch

48.779

Baby Chic

S. B. Smith

Owen Smith

Out of gas

53.423

Baby Skylark

G. H. Phelps

G. H. Phelps

Capsized

53.531

*Average 47.478

The race for the Detroit Yacht Club Development Class was a great disappointment. The idea of a more or less unlimited class for the development of high speed boats is a fine one and deserves better support than was accorded this year. But two boats started, Harry Greening's new experimental Rainbow VI, and Solar Plexus, an old boat. Rainbow VI is a fine, single-step hydroplane with a special Miller engine, and she showed phenomenal speed, though she came to grief in both the first and second 30-mile heats. Driven by her owner in the first heat, she just toyed with Solar Plexus, and did better than 50 m.p.h. She is said to be capable of 60. But when opened up on the eighth lap her propeller let go and she had to be towed off the course. Another propeller was hurriedly fitted and, driven by Dave Reed, she started again. Running conservatively, she had the race won on the last lap when her clutch let go and Solar Plexus flashed by to take the heat. Harry, as usual, bore his trials with equanimity. Bottoms Up entered the last heat to make a race of it, but Solar Plexus had no difficulty in coming through, and thus won all three heats with a perfect score of 1200 points.

While the fleet in the 151-class for the National and Elgin National Trophies was not large, it was very high class. All were fitted with super-chargers except Ricochet and Baby Ruth.

In the first heat Miss Massachusetts, after an overhaul by her designer, George Crouch, came into her own and L. T. Savage, her owner, tasted victory when she out-distanced the field and came in an easy winner over E. W. Hammond's Miss Westchester and three other starters. She finished second in the next two heats, but before the final heat she was dropped by the crane lifting her out of the water and sank, much to the regret of everyone. J. H. Rand, Jr.'s, Spitfire V won the last three heats easily, her fastest heat being at the rate of 47.663 miles. Miss Massachusetts was second. For the Main Sheet Trophy H. Vreeland's Baby Chrysler won in class and N. Wensel's Century Kid I in Class C.

(Reprinted from Yachting, October 1927, pp.35-37, 114)


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