1960 President's Cup
Potomac River, Washington, DC, September 17-18, 1960
More Power to You
Our recent news accounts of unlimited hydro races have read as though the needle stuck. In this issue we report another instance where- the Unlimited Racing Commission has had to determine the winner. In this case (the President's Cup) as in last month's protest story about the Seattle Seafair race, the villain of the piece has been the unlimited class rules. The Seafair stalemate arose from a contradiction in the rules. This latest one grew out of a rule which sounds scientific but is quite impractical.
These rules are enacted by none other than the unlimited hydro owners themselves. Yet, when a hassle develops from a rule weakness, owners, drivers and crew chiefs invariably blame everything on the officials. And what they might lack in logic, the competing members of the sport more than make up in dramatic outrage and profane volume.
All of us interested in the sport realize that these rules rhubarbs are disgusting the spectating public. It is high time that competitors and a carping segment of the press realize that the owners must straighten out their rule book if we are to improve the situation. Many officials are tired of being used as patsies.
When the picture of the start of the third President's Cup heat and observation by the officials showed nothing but a premature start by Bardahl, with the rest of fleet masked by her rooster tail, the fat was in the fire. With the three other boats so close to the leader that they were hidden by her rooster tail, it was virtually certain that one or more of the others had also jumped. The start officials believed that Nitrogen was the only other culprit. Thus these two were compelled to run an extra lap.
After the finish referee Red Peatross found that none of the responsible officials really knew who had and who hadn't jumped. The heat could have been re-run under a general rule providing "An additional start can be called if, in the opinion of the referee, the race committee has failed to record the numbers of those boats which have crossed the starting line before the official start . . ." But such a course would almost certainly have brought a protest from the Thriftway crew who figured that their boat had won.
Since a protest seemed inevitable, Red decided the contest according to unlimited rule 17D-"The picture shall. be documentary evidence of the start of the race and the legality of each start must be determined by the officials on the basis of the picture used." Since only Bardahl showed. in the picture, only her start was ruled premature.
With baseball preferring an umpire to a camera in calling balls and strikes and "safe" and "out," this picture technique seems of the science fiction category. It's value is slight with towering rooster tails blinding the camera's view-as they always can unless the cameras were located several hundred feet above the course.
(Reprinted from "More Power to You" by Mel Crook, Yachting, November 1960, pp.87-88)
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