1927 Palm Beach Regatta
Palm Beach Leads Off
A Large Fleet, Fast Time and Exciting Incidents Mark the Season’s Opener
Palm Beach may not have discovered the Father of Our Country, certainly it most fittingly commemorates the date of birth of the man who set a speed record himself on the old Delaware River one winter day in 1776. Whether the date so auspiciously chosen to start the year's racing has anything to do with the success of the annual regatta on Lake Worth is not known, but assuredly the popularity of the Washington's Birthday affair is such as to justify that conclusion.
For the fifth time Palm Beach led off with the opening pop of exhausts on the Atlantic Coast, and the three days of racing, held under the auspices of the Palm Beach Yachting Association, brought together a fleet of flyers form many sections of the United States to compete for trophies which are rapidly acquiring a tradition back of the . While some the classes this season did not have as many boats at the line as in some former races, in quality and speed they made up for any deficiency in numbers. In the smaller one-design and "outboard" classes the fleets were larger than ever, testifying to the popularity of these little boats, and the total number of starters was an unusually, large one.
Perhaps the event that attracted the most interest this year was the 151-class of hydroplanes racing for the Royal Poinciana Trophy. Last season a California boat, Smiling Dan III, came on and won a leg on this "mug" against the best the East and the Middle West could produce. And knowing that the "ewffete" Eastern racing men were all set to see that this did not happen again, Dick Loynes, the owner of Smiling Dan, took no chances and brought a new flyer to Lake Worth this year — Miss California by name — and without apparently being extended, this sensational little craft again did the trick, and won four heats in a way that made the others in her class look as if they would have to be put on the charts as obstructions to navigation. Miss California is powered with a special Miller motor, with supercharger, which turned up in the neighborhood of 4,000 r.p.m. when pushed. She took the first four heats easily — with a lot to spare — against seven others of the best, including two Miss Spitfires, Miss Westchester II, Baby Peerless and a strange new creation that looked like a "two-in-one" affair, called the Wasp (see picture for explanation [photo not yet available]) which, unfortunately, capsized in a trial spin and consequently took part in only the fourth heat, where she finished in fourth place.
In tuning up for the mile trials before the fifth heat, Miss California hit the wake of a fast cruiser and knocked a hole in her bottom. Though she was hurriedly repaired, and the last heat delayed for her, she could not finish. However, her four wins gave her another leg on the cup with 800 points, the others getting: Miss Rockledge, 375; Miss Spitfire V, 200; Margaret III, 190; Miss Westchester, 100; Baby Peerless, 100; Miss Spitfire VI, 66; Wasp, 25. The winner's best five-mile lap was in 6 min. 25 3/5 sec.
In the class for Gold Cup boats racing for the Inter-State trophy, Commodore Wagg and "Bill" Bigelow's Palm Beach Days, Forrest Adair's Sara de Sota and Irsch's Miss Tampa each won a 25-mile heat and were tied on points at the finish. According to A. P. B. A. rules, the race should then have been settled on the basis of each boat's total elapsed time; but as both Miss Tampa and Sara de Sota had been flagged off the course by the judges in previous heats no comparison was possible and the race stood a tie, each boat getting 1,085 hard-earned points.
For the Bradley trophy, Miss Palm Beach, owned by W. J. Connors, took first place, beating Miss Oknechobee and Sneeze II. In the race for 26-foot Chris-Craft, Kenneth Van Riper's Sneeze led the way in fast time. Paul H. Prigg took the Biscayne Babies one-design class. In the Dodge Water Cars No. 65 was the winner and J. Woodward led the fleet of six Sea Sleds twice around the 2-mile course in the excellent time of 9:02. A. A. Kent's Vibert II took the Super Bear Cat event.
The outboard races were productive of the best of sport and some of the closest finishes of the regatta, various makes of motors being represented. These craft are real little racers, and don't let anyone be fooled on that. Sister Miami, owned by A. R. Knauer, hung up a world's record for outboards with an average of 25:22 m.p.h., with a Johnson Big Twin, in six mile trials. Poison, owned by Don Conkling (yes, son of the Commodore) did well with an average of 22.228, while Crate, a tiny craft owned by Jim Ohmer, got first honors in Class B. Buzzing Around and Barfield's entry in the Penn Yan Baby Buzz class outboards tied on points.
Yes, it was a great regatta!
(Reprinted from Yachting, April 1927, pp.41-42, 106+)
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