1933 President's Cup
El Lagarto Wins Again!
The President's Cup regatta at Washington, held on the last two days of September, proved to be chock full of excitement for contestants, officials and spectators. To start off with, the first events scheduled were for the outboards, and what with admiral's barges, Navy and Coast Guard gigs and fast runabouts tuning up, the little fellows had a tough time of it in the not so smooth water. Washington's regatta has always been famous for the amount of interference caused by Government boats of different types, but this year the situation seemed to be worse than ever. However, a good time was had by nearly everyone and the races were pronounced the most successful ever held at the Capital.
The outboard events were run on a shorter course than that used by the larger boats, and in the first race, for class. A outboard, division II, Thomas Tyson of Chestnut Hill won in Half Pint. In division II of the same class Elmer Stagmer of Baltimore was the winner. In class B, Cliff Thompson, Jr., won the first heat, but started the excitement by capsizing in the second heat. Cab Walier won the second heat and gained sufficient points to be declared the winner of the event. In the 125 cubic inch class for small inboard hydroplanes, Emancipator II, owned by S. M. Auerbach of Chicago, was an easy winner in both heats outclassing all others. Classes A, B, C and D stock runabouts raced all under
one heading. These are the smaller classes, and in this race Bob Snadecki, driving his Bear Cat, got into a mix-up with Mrs. Burnham, driving Chotsie V, at the upper turn and wound up by striking one of the buoys. Later Mrs. Burnham requested a hearing on the situation, and after hearing both sides, officials were as much at sea as ever owing to the fact that there was no definite proof of an overlap existing at the time. We believe the race was ultimately awarded to Mrs. Burnham as the rights of the situation were apparently on her side.
Class E, F and G runabouts were grouped under one heading, and Joe Anne, driven by Buddy Hemstead of Philadelphia, was the winner. The same boat also won the class H runabout event. A considerable number of runabouts turned up at the starting line and keen competition, flying spray and high speed made it exciting enough for anyone.
Of course the main event of the day was the running of the first heat of the President's Cup. In this race Delphine IV, the "Leaping Lena of Newport News," was driven by Bill Horn. George Reis drove El Lagarto, the old-time Hacker job which Reis has brought up to date by some mysterious changes to the bottom. This is the same boat which won the Gold Cup in Detroit and the National Sweepstakes at Red Bank this year. Ethyl-Ruth, formerly one of the multitudinous Delphines of the Dodge stables, had been loaned to John Shibe of Philadelphia. Shibe had a new engine installed and in preliminary runs she was one of the smoothest and fastest boats of the class and undoubtedly had great possibilities. Delphine VII, driven by Horace Dodge, was another contestant. Jack Rutherford had the Imp on hand—which so far this year had been unable to finish a single heat, although a beautifully running job. The sixth contestant was the Arctic Tern owned by Ernest Chase. The last two named boats never had a chance in such fast company.
In the first heat most of the boats were away to a perfect start with El Lagarto running in about fifth position. The boats disappeared from sight behind the spectator fleet at the upper turn and a few seconds later all were amazed to see Lagarto come out of the turn, leading by a big margin. How Reis got through the skidding, spray-hurling fleet is a mystery even to those aboard El Lagarto.
Ethyl-Ruth, for some unknown reason, had made a very poor start but had pulled up into fourth position. Bill Horn was second and Horace Dodge in third. Before long it became apparent that Arctic Tern and Imp were in danger of being lapped by the flying leaders, for Bill was pressing Reis all he dared in the lumpy water.
In the third lap tragedy put its foot down on Delphine IV. As she passed the committee boat, Apache, Bill Horn was seen to be grinding his steering wheel back and forth in an effort to keep his boat right side up between her sixty foot leaps. Delphine IV leaped more at Washington than at any other race this year, and Bill, her driver, said that he had changed the planes on purpose as his boat was much faster than when glued to the surface. In one wild leap of at least seventy feet, as he passed the Apache, Bill Horn came down with the rudder a little too much off center. The terrific speed and pressure instantly tore the entire rudder off and took most of the stern with it. Delphine IV was completely out of control, in the midst of a crowded spectator fleet and running at a speed of considerably better than 60 m.p.h. Without waiting to throttle the engine, Bill grabbed the reverse lever and, careening wildly to port, Delphine IV went into full reverse, heading directly for the old concrete Army transport General Rucker. She continued her wild career for a split second more, and then, at the last moment, Charlie Grafflin, Bill's popular mechanic, cut the switch. The next second Charlie was pinned between the Delphine IV and the concrete side of the General Rucker. He slumped forward in his seat, unconscious, as Delphine came to rest, and both driver and mechanic were quickly lifted aboard the larger vessel as their boat was in danger of sinking.
Calls were sent out for a doctor, who was ultimately found, and after considerable delay Charlie was taken ashore on a stretcher to Emergency Hospital. His injuries were pronounced serious, but he will recover.
With his chief contestant out of the race, George Reis in El Lagarto slowed down a trifle, just enough to keep a comfortable lead over Dodge and at the end of the fifteen mile heat El Lagarto crossed the line an, easy winner with an average speed of 55.555 m.p.h. Delphine VII was second and her speed averaged at 54.788 m.p.h. Ethyl-Ruth III, Imp and Arctic Tern followed in order, the Arctic Tern being lapped by the winning boat.
The second heat was run off on the second day of the meet and with Delphine VII definitely out of the picture Horace Dodge, contrary to the rulings of officials in charge, took over Ethyl-Ruth and had her driven by F. G. Ericson, captain of the Dodge racing team. Arctic Tern did not start.
A beautiful start was made with Ethyl-Ruth jumping into the lead and setting a terrific pace with Eric's leaden foot on the accelerator. El Lagarto fell into second place with Dodge trailing him and Imp bringing up in the rear. During the running of this heat Ericson established a new lap record for the President's Cup of 60.810 m.p.h. which is remarkable going when the sharp turns of the course are taken into consideration. However, the pace was too hot even for the Ethyl-Ruth and as a result, when she came around on the fifth lap, it was seen that something was amiss and as she passed the committee boat she slowed down and ran off the course. The strain had been too much for the clutch and El Lagarto romped home a winner again. Delphine VII was second and Imp third.
This gave Lagarto a sufficiency of points so that all she had to do was finish third to be declared the winner and the canny driver planned to do exactly that. However, the third heat had more thrills, particularly for the officials. The five minute gun boomed out on time but the time keeper, who lives minutes and seconds under these conditions, suffered an interruption by a well meaning friend during the last minute of time, with the result that a whole minute was lost somewhere and the "one minute to go" gun went off at the exact time that the race was supposed to start. Horace Dodge, in Delphine VII, having set his stop watch with the five minute gun, took this second gun for the actual start and disregarding the fact that the starter's flag was not raised or that the "last minute clock" had not started, he roared over the line and was off. El Lagarto and Imp, meanwhile, were lying up in back of the starting line, waiting for the clock to indicate the actual start. They started according to schedule, one full minute behind the flying Delphine VII.
Officials admitted the error of their ways (for once) and as a result Dodge was awarded first place; Reis was second and Jack Rutherford came in third. The final point standing, though, told the story. El Lagarto had 1,161 points, Delphine VII 1,122 points and Imp 974 points, thus giving George Reis and his amateur mechanic, Dick Bowers, the President's Cup for the next year.
In the outboard events of the second day; Lewis Carlisle won both heats of class C, division I, and Cab Walier won a sufficiency of points to secure division II of the same class. Charlie Cabot of New Haven cleaned up in class F open, with Fred Jacoby not far behind. J. W. Muller of Richmond capsized in his outboard and Edward Sasnett was pitched out of his boat, Sas III, and in doing so only had time to partly close the throttle. Sas III, driverless, continued up the crowded course and headed straight for a decrepit skiff in which four or five boys were seated. They pushed her, off without damage and Sas then went for a neat little outboard runabout in which Mama, Papa and Little Willie were seated watching the races. Papa was either mighty quick on the trigger or had some unusually good luck, for he managed to fend the boat off and as the engine passed him, he flipped it up so that the propeller was free of the water. The engine continued to roar its defiance for a few seconds, with the boat standing still, and finally died out as the carburetor ran dry.
Class I runabouts provided a splendid race with four very fast boats running at better than 40 m.p.h. Ferdinand Carter's Restless, from Philadelphia, was the winner. Class A runabout race was won by Freeman Collier's C-Me-Go. The following event, the All-Washington Sweepstakes, brought out a whole flock of locally owned runabouts and was won by Walter Saunders' Virginia. Mrs. J. M. Rutherford drove Delphine VII to victory in the women's free-for-all and in the final event, the Potomac Grand free-for-all, John Bramble brought out Pep III, one of the old Baby Reliance boats that some of the old timers may recall. At the very start Melvin Crook of Montclair, New Jersey, took the lead in his Betty III, but as she started to go places, a bunch of kindling wood came out from underneath her and from the committee boat it was apparent that she had lost a good part of her bottom. However, it was well forward and since she planed beautifully, more than half out of water, Crook managed to keep her afloat for more than half a, lap when his troubles doubled up and he found himself holding a steering wheel in his hands that had absolutely nothing attached to it. Betty III ran wild for a few seconds but was quickly shut off and just as quickly sank leaving an open field for Pep III to roar through to victory.
On the first night of the races the Corinthian Yacht Club of Washington held open house and an illuminated marine parade of the various yachts of the club.
(Reprinted from The Rudder, November 1933)
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