1929 Miami Beach Yacht Club Regatta
Miami Sets a Fast Pace
The first speed boat event of the year to see international racing was the Annual Regatta of the Miami Beach Yacht Club held on Biscayne Bay, March 20th and 21st, which brought together Miss America VII, Gar Wood's hitherto unbeaten flyer and holder of the speed record for the fastest time ever made upon the water, and Miss England, the latest creation of the British Isles in the speed line. As a result of this meeting Miss America lowered her colors to the invader, yet did not relinquish her title of still being the fastest boat afloat. And thereby hangs a tale.
Before telling the story of the big race, it should be stated that the racing at Miami this year was, by and large, the best, the most interesting and the most replete with thrills of any power boat regatta of recent years. The committee had arranged an excellent program of events which was run off without a hitch between 1 and 6 P.M. each day. The races were spaced at 15 or 20 minute intervals, so that "there was something doing every minute," thus eliminating long waits between events. There was always something on the course, and as the various classes were well filled and hotly contested, the entertainment for the large crowd of spectators, as well as for the drivers of the boats, was complete, while the moderately rough water of the two days called for great skill in handling the boats and added to the thrills of the occasion.
The big event of the meet was, of course, the meeting between Miss America and Miss England. Fresh from his laurels at Ormond, where he broke the automobile speed record in his Golden Arrow, Major H. O. D. Segrave brought his practically untried Miss England to Miami to pit her against the best we had. Some difficulty was encountered in getting Miss England tuned up, and there was much doubt before the race as to whether she would be in condition to start, but Segrave and his helpers got her in shape for several fast runs before the start, during which she developed about 87 m.p.h. on the straightaways, which augured well for an interesting race.
Just before the gun went off for the big race, Miss England shot out from the sea wall where she had been tied up and drew abreast of Miss America as Gar Wood was coming up to the line, throttled down. With the bang of the gun both boats, beam to beam, jumped away, Miss England on the inside of the course. Both opened up wide and Miss America jumped into the lead almost instantly, and before the first turn had eased over to the inside where she was giving the Englishman her wash as they roared away up the course. Segrave had to turn wide on this account, but on the back stretch he opened up and held the flying American.
At the end of the first lap Miss America led by a few lengths and it was apparent that Gar had too much speed for the visitor. This first lap was the fastest of the race and Miss America clipped off the two-mile course at 64.95 m.p.h. On the second lap Miss America gained a bit more, though Miss England made her fastest time, 63.04 for the two miles. On the straightaway Miss England would gain, but Miss America was better on the turns. As they reached the first turn on the third lap, Miss America was leading by perhaps a tenth of a mile when the quadrant on her rudder broke as she made the sharp turn and Segrave shot into the lead and tore down the back stretch alone. It was hoped that Miss America would get going again, but with his steering gear hopelessly out of commission, Gar Wood took a tow, and that ended her participation for the day. Segrave slowed down thereafter, and completed the course, running beautifully at an average of 59.228 miles for the 12-mile heat — not bad considering the rough water and the fact that she was not pushed. So first blood went to England. As the two heats were run on the point system, and Miss America failed to score, it was a foregone conclusion that Miss England would take the event if she finished the second heat. Gar got Miss America patched up in time for the start the next day. This second affair lacked the excitement of the first heat, and it was Segrave's turn to run into trouble. Again Miss America shot into the lead at the start and Miss England had a stern chase throughout the heat. At the end of the first lap Gar led by some 300 yards and had negotiated the lap at about 63 miles' speed. Soon it was seen that Miss England was in trouble, for her helmsman had slowed her down and her mechanic was up forward peering into the hatch over the gear box and forward rudder. On the fourth lap Miss America lapped the British boat, and while the latter kept going she was not making a race of it. Miss America's time for the 12 miles was 11:04, or 61.272 m.p.h. Miss England took 16:50 to cover the distance, but she did cover it, got her point, and Gar Wood had to bow to a foreign invader for the first time in his racing career.
It is no discredit to the English visitor to say that Miss America is the faster boat. She has two Packard engines of about 1800 total h.p. to Miss England's single Napier Lion motor of 930, turning her propeller at 6,500 r.p.m. The two hulls are about the same length, 27 to 28 feet.
It developed after the second heat that Miss England had cracked her bottom and was leaking so that she had to be slowed down to about 40 m.p.h. so that her self-bailers would handle the water.
After the regatta Miss America was put over the mile course to try to break her record of 92.838 made on fresh water at Detroit last year. This she did, establishing a new record of 93.123 (average of six runs), and made the record on salt water at that. Her best mile was at 94.118.
The Colonel Green Trophy Race
The next most important event was the race for the Colonel Green Trophy for outboards, unlimited. This brought out a big field of some 20 boats, making it a great scramble at the starting line when the gun banged. Most of the drivers were using this year's engines and everyone was anxious to see who would "come through." All hit the line in a hunch, and in a cloud of spray mingled with smoke from exhausts. Several were over too soon in their anxiety and had to return and thus lost their chances.
Malcolm Pope, in his Lookinback Kid, soon jumped into the lead, hotly pressed by Julius Herbst in his King Bee. In spite of rough water, in which the little boats bounced like rubber balls, there was no slackening of the pace. King Bee was carrying two persons, something of an innovation in outboard racing. Flash IV, Evinrude powered, was a close third, pushing the others hard. It was a great race, and the speed, 31.413 m.p.h., was fast considering the rough water and the short course of 1 miles, three times around.
The second heat, the next day, found water conditions a trifle better, but with a lop of sea still running. The same two boats that won the first heat went out and did their stuff again, Lookinback Kid winning and King Bee taking second. The speed was 31.111. These two boats used the new Johnson Sea Horse 32 motor. It was a fine performance on the part of drivers, boats and motors.
The other outboard events were numerous, and hotly contested. To detail each event as it should be would take a complete issue of Yachting.
In Class E the Herbst entry, King Bee, won the first heat and the event, though Malcolm Pope, in Lookinback Kid, took the second heat by a narrow margin.
In Class A, a Herbst boat, the Tar Baby, with a Lockwood motor, cleaned up both days, Wilkie's Baby taking second place.
In Class B, run in two divisions the first day, F-13, with a Caine motor, won in the first division and Orange Blossom, driven by Genevieve Atwood, also using a Caine, won over the second division outfit. On the second day, both divisions were combined, and the winner, in the fast time of 32.76 m.p.h., was Bullet, Johnson powered, with Silver Streak (Evinrude) second. On points, Orange Blossom took the combined heats.
In Class C, Division 2, Bullet won the first heat with Curtis De Lux second. In the second heat, Flash IV, a Ludington Hydro, Evinrude-powered, finished first, while Flash V, driven by W. Hewitt, with the same outfit, took second honors.
In Class D. Julius Herbst in his King Bee (Johnson) carried a passenger but nevertheless walked away with the honors.
The Runabout Classes
A good sized fleet of runabouts faced the starter on each of the two days of racing. There were classes for 110 h.p., 150 h.p., 200 h.p. and 250 h.p.
In the 110 Class the Chris-Craft Jolly Roger, owned by Com. Masey, won the first heat, while the second heat was taken by Paul Prigg in his No. 12, powered with a Grey Eight, Jolly Roger being second, speed 31.8 m.p.h.
The 150 Class was won by another Chris-Craft, Janet W, with Jane second, speed 31.65 m.p.h. in the first heat. The second heat was again won by Paul Prigg's No. 12, speed 31.86, with Janet second.
In the 200-h.p. Class, the Chris-Craft GBOJ, owned by C. A. Strom, and Miss Elizabeth II, owned by Roger Firestone, divided the honors, each taking one heat.
In the 250-h.p. Class Miss Elizabeth II, a Baby Gar, powered with a Scripps 200-h.p. motor, took one heat, driven by her 16-year-old owner, Roger Firestone, while GBOJ took the other, the speed of the best lap being 35.267 m.p.h.
As usual, the 151 Class hydroplanes furnished many thrills, and also as usual, Dick Loynes was there with his Miss California, and was never headed in either of the limited events. Smiling Dan ran him a hard race, but could not head the famous Miss from California. But no records were broken. In the unlimited class Smiling Dan came through, with Habana II second. Miss Rioco furnished the big thrill by flipping over at top speed and spilling her driver, Eddie Offit, but luckily he was not seriously hurt.
Outboard Speed Record Broken
By driving his boat over six one-mile runs on March 23rd, after the regatta, at an average speed of 43.76 miles per hour, Harrison Fraser, of Auburnsdale, Fla.. set up a new outboard speed record. Using a Boyd-Martin Bullet and a Johnson 32 motor, Fraser raised the previous record of 41.7 miles per hour established last year by Eldon W. Travis of Muscatine, Iowa, at Peoria, Ill.
All in all, the new outboard motors for 1929 gave an excellent account of themselves at Miami. They had lots of power and that new records were not hung up in competition was due to the fact that on both days the water conditions were bad for small boat racing, there being a nasty lop which was trying to both boats and drivers.
(Reprinted from Yachting, May 1929, pp.45-48)
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