1961 President's Cup
Potomac River, Washington, D.C., September 16-17, 1961
"I Was Lucky"
"I guess I'm about the luckiest guy in the world to be alive," Freddie Alter told friends in Detroit Monday on his arrival from Washington.
Alter miraculously escaped serious injury Sunday when his Such Crust disintegrated while it was traveling. 140 miles an hour in the President's Cup Regatta,
Alter was catapulted into the air as the boat exploded. He came down just as the cockpit of the boat passed under him.
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"I donít know what happened," Alter said. The boat was traveling along smoothly. I know it didn't bounce, but suddenly it seemed to stop dead.
"I was slammed against the steering wheel and the dashboard. The water pressure shot me into the air. I guess my momentum kept me going forward with the wreckage, because I remember seeing the boat still moving under me.
"I came down right in the cockpit with one leg up on the deck.
"The boat was sinking fast and Bob Schroeder swam over and brought me to the deck of his Gale VII."
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Alter said he was bruised on every part of his body that wasn't protected by his thick lifejacket. He was treated at George Washington Hospital for a gashed right arm and wrenched shoulder.
It was Alter's second scrape with death while driving the big Gold Cuppers. He was thrown from Miss U.S. I in the Silver Cup Race in 1957 and saved by Jack Regas, who dove from Hawaii Kai to his rescue.
The fact Alter was thrown from his boat both times is credited for his being alive today. He and a host of other drivers have escaped death when they were thrown from their boats during an accident.
Bob Hayward, whose tragic death came just a week ago in the Silver Cup Race here, was not thrown from his Miss Supertest II.
Nor were the two crew members who lost their lives in the Quicksilver 10 years ago in the first Gold Cup Race at Seattle.
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Will alter race again and face death a third time?
"Yes, Bill Muncey was thrown from Miss Thriftway twice. Bill Cantrell has been thrown in several accidents. Lou Fageol and Joe Taggart were thrown and survived accidents in the Slo-Mos.
"But I'll never drive a lightweight, overpowered boat again," Alter said. "A driver has to have plenty of beel around him when he travels as fast as we do today."
The wreckage of Such Crust was raised from the. Potomac River Monday. It is doubtful that owner Jack Schafer will attempt to have the boat repaired. Schafer has announced his plans to build a twin-engined catamaran for next year.
(Reprinted from the Detroit Free Press, September 18, 1961)
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