1933 President's Cup
Potomac River, Washington, DC, September 29-30, 1933

El Lagarto Wins Presidentís Cup

bullet El Lagarto Takes Presidents Cup
bullet El Lagarto Wins President's Cup
bullet El Lagarto Makes a Grand Slam
bullet El Lagarto Wins Again!

All of Washington turned out to witness two glorious days of racing on September twenty-nine and thirty. The principal attraction of course was the race for the famed President's Cup competed for annually in Washington. Boats of the Gold Cup Class are eligible to compete and interest in this contest rivals that for the Gold Cup itself. A course for the regatta was laid out in Georgetown channel, on the Potomac River. A 2Ĺ-mile oval was used for the larger boats, while a shorter 1⅔-mile course was used for all outboard events. The program arranged for the regatta called for a rapid succession of events beginning at noon on each day and continuing at twenty-minute intervals, throughout both afternoons.

Organization of committees to handle the multiplicity of detail in connection with such a regatta had taken place months in advance and all were capably performing their duties under the guidance of John A. Remon. General Chairman, with the racing in the particular care of the race committee headed by L. Gordon Leech, chairman. Countless other committees functioned to take care of broadcasting, finances, entertainment, hotel accommodations, patrol, and other duties.

Racing for the outboards was arranged with the smaller classes A and B competing on the first day and the larger classes C and F on the second day. The 125 cubic inch hydroplanes found a place for two heats on Friday together with several runabout classes and the cruiser Chance race. The first heat of the President's cup covering 15 miles was also scheduled for the opening day with the remaining two heats for the second day. Other events for the Saturday program were the All Washington Sweepstake limited to local drivers and boats of all classes; the Ladies Free-For-All open to the ladies and not limited as to the class of boats; and the Potomac Free-For-All open to anything that floats.

Thirteen boats had entered tentatively for the Gold Cup event but all of these did not appear for the race. Only six faced the starter's flag for the first heat and El Lagarto, winner of the Sweepstakes at Red Bank and the Gold Cup at Detroit quickly leaped out in front and held her commanding position throughout the heat. The water of the channel was quickly turned into a nasty chop as the six big boats tore around the course. They created a good deal of the wash themselves which was aggravated by the reflected wash from the stone retaining wall of East Potomac Park which faced the course. Near disaster overtook Delphine IV in this first heat. Bill Horn, her driver, was making a very determined effort to overtake the flying El Lagarto. Jumping along in the rough water as she approached the Coast Guard Cutter Apache serving as committee boat. Delphine IV leaped into the air as she finished the third lap. In dropping back into the water she landed on the side of a wave stern first and snapped her rudder and the supporting part of the hull off short. Going at nearly a mile a minute, the boat was immediately out of control and slewed around to port. She cleared the bow of the cutter Apache but was not quite as fortunate in missing the steamer General Rucker, an Army spectator vessel. This was side-swiped and her mechanic, Charles J. Grafflin, caught in the impact suffered painful injuries. Bill Horn escaped with a broken rib. The situation had possibilities for a serious crash and it was only by the prompt action of the crew in shutting off the motor that a worse mix-up was averted.

The five boats remaining in the race continued with El Lagarto maintaining her lead and finishing the six laps in first place. Delphine VII driven by Horace Dodge and entered by Mrs. Raymond T. Baker, finished closely behind in second place. Ethyl Ruth III, driven by Armand Pugh and entered by John Shibe, crossed the line in third place. This was not her first appearance as a contender in Gold Cup Class racing as she was formerly called Impshi, and then Delphine VI, under which she raced at Detroit under the Dodge flag. Her speed possibilities were plainly greater than was demonstrated in the first heat. Imp and Arctic Tern, the remaining contenders owned by John M. L. Rutherfurd and E. C. Chase, respectively, were not extended and finished the heat at relatively slow speeds. Imp, it will be recalled won the cup in 1929 but this time could not do better than fourth at 48 miles per hour. Arctic Tern raced previously as Miss Tampa and Miss Philadelphia. Her bottom had been shingled but she could not do better than 45 miles and she did not think it worth trying in the remaining heats and withdrew.

The second and third heats on Saturday were further demonstrations of the ability of El Lagarto and the skill of George Reis, her owner and driver. The boat itself is eleven years old and was formerly a fast runabout. Her engine is ten years old. Under the skillful nursing and handling of her owner, and mechanic Dick Bowers, she has come to the front as the outstanding Gold Cup boat of the year and has won all three important races for Gold Cup boats this year.

A squabble developed in the second heat when word was noised about that Commodore F. G. Erickson who drove her at Detroit was to pilot Ethyl Ruth. George Reis protested this as being contrary to the rules as Commodore Erickson was not listed as a relief driver. The race committee deliberated the question and finally ruled that changing of drivers was not permissible.

The entire fleet of four boats beat the starting gun and all realizing their error made a quick turnabout and a new start. El Lagarto turned to the right while the others turned to the left and had to make a wide circle around the Coast Guard cutters anchored at the line. Ethyl Ruth got the better of the maneuver and Commodore Erickson got her away to a good start the second time. Horace Dodge driving Delphine VII was a good second, while El Lagarto got into some shallow water and apparently could not pick up speed quickly enough made a poor third with Imp in fourth place.

Ethyl Ruth driven furiously by Erickson opened up a great lead and covered several of the 21 mile laps at a speed of 60.8 miles, faster than any Gold Cup boat has covered a like distance previously in this race.

The problem which was raised by the changing of drivers was automatically disposed of when Ethyl Ruth was observed to be slowing up in the fifth lap. She turned off the course and it seems that a loss of oil pressure was responsible for the stoppage. It would have been fatal to the engine to continue further as it would have been completely ruined if run without proper lubrication. This left El Lagarto again in the lead and she finished this heat in first place with a time of 16:25 for the fifteen miles. Delphine VII driven by Horace Dodge was close behind with an interval of only three seconds between the boats.

For the third and last heat only three of the boats appeared. These were El Lagarto, Delphine VII and Imp. Running on the point system, El Lagarto merely had to finish to be certain of enough points to win the race. Further confusion arose at the start of this heat. All drivers had started their own watches at the five minute gun as usual. The starting time was scheduled at 3:55, and the drivers ran off a mile or so before again approaching the start. They came charging down at the proper time but the great crowd of spectators about the working space interfered with the functioning of the starting officials so that they were a minute late in giving the starting signal. Horace Dodge paid no attention to the flags and got away at 3:55. George Reis and J. Rutherfurd observing that the flag was still up and the starting clock operating had to come almost to a stop and turn about. They started with the signal as given. The three boats raced about the course with Dodge about a minute or more ahead. It was hard to say whether he was first or last since his position depended entirely on whether his early start was considered correct or not. After the six laps had been run El Lagarto was given the checkered flag as having finished first. Dodge came aboard the committee boat and registered a prolonged and violent protest stating that he had started correctly at the scheduled time. His protest was recognized as valid since the fault lay with the starting officials and he was designated winner of the third heat with El Lagarto second and Imp in third place. This did not alter the final standing and the President's Cup was awarded to El Lagarto, Geo. Reis of Lake George owner and driver.

The outboard events started the program on each of the two days. In the event for division I drivers Class A only three boats started. Tom Tyson had no difficulty in winning both heats handily, defeating Lewis Carlisle and Robert Haskins, Jr. The division II drivers in the same class were a bit more strongly represented as six boats started in each of the two heats. E. J. Stagmer won the first heat, and Ted Roberts the second, with Stagmer getting the race on total points with a first and second place.

The event for Class B was an open one. Drivers of both divisions raced together and were awarded cash or merchandise prizes according to their division. Nine boats started in the first heat with three of them beating the gun. They returned however and made proper starts so did not suffer disqualification. J. C. Walier probably lost first place through his hasty start as he was appreciably faster than the others. Fred Jacoby with a third and a second got enough points to secure first prize and J. C. Walier, Jr., second.

The larger Class C boats raced on the second day of the regatta. Division I was not strongly represented as only five boats took part. Lewis Carlisle took first place in both heats with Sam Crooks right on his stern for second place. Speed of the winner was 45.2 and 46.2 for the two heats.

(Three Heats, Fifteen Miles Each)





Final Position

1st heat

2nd heat

3rd heat

George Reis

El Lagarto

Lake George Club





Mrs. R. T. Baker

Delphine VII

Corinthian Y. C





John Rutherfurd


Montauk Y. C





John Shibe

Ethyl-Ruth 3rd

Delaware River Yacht Club





E. T. Chase

Arctic Tern

Maryland Y. C





Heat Winner's Speed

55.555 mph

54.788 mph

50.962 mph


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