1954 APBA Gold Cup
More Power to You
Strategy was the keynote of the 47th Gold Cup race.
Both the motive and the necessary equipment were supplied by the combination of a two-boat Seattle team defending against an armada of seven challengers from Detroit. Of course none of the drivers and owners involved in the maneuvering has seen fit to explain or even admit anything for publication. So maybe it was all accidental—without a crystal ball one can't be sure. But here's the way it looked to us.
Detroiters followed their usual practice of turning into a young ocean all available water short of the starting line. Rough indeed was the path they left for Lou Fageol who, in Slo-mo V, was making his usual fast starts through the arch of the bridge. This defensive pattern was set up by the Motor City lads on each of the three starts.
The Seattle team at the start of the first heat pulled one that we had never before seen in three decades of watching Gold Cup races. Taggart brought Slo-mo IV around the north turn and headed for the starting line several seconds ahead of schedule. Pictures taken as he was some 300 yds. short of the line show him leading the pack at high speed. He ended up "jumping" the clock by some 3 boat lengths. But—Lee Schoenith was twice that far over, while George Simon all but dragged his feet to remain legal. Had the stunt been timed a hair differently, Taggart might have managed to assess both Gale V and Miss U.S. a penalty lap, while keeping Slo-mo IV on the sanitary side of "clock zero."
For about half the race—as long as Slo-mo IV's sick Allison made it possible—Fageol and Taggart maintained a roving echelon formation at the head of the pack. This presented a barrier that could have been overcome only by a great speed advantage or a high degree of driving guile. By one means or the other Cantrell managed to slip by once on the outside and was able to hold the lead momentarily until his motor faded with him. No one else pierced the Seattle defense as long as Taggart could keep the IV close to her faster team-mate.
The efficacy of such tactics is immeasurably enhanced by the monstrous rooster tails thrown by current Gold Cuppers. Fageol and Taggart not only presented a barrier of hulls—they were able to shoo their pursuers to the inside or outside by sly placing of the Slo-mo's spumes of water. On two occasions George Simon, in desperate and close pursuit of the Sayres boats, had his motor stalled by copious inhalations of Slo-mo spray.
(Reprinted from Yachting, October 1954)
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