1921 Harmsworth Trophy
The British International Trophy Race
The great interest in the regatta. however, was centered on the B. I. T. race for which England sent over Maple Leaf VII, owned by Sir E. Mackay Edgar, and in charge of Col. A. W. Tate, who drove one of the British contestants in the race at Cowes last year.
It was not considered necessary to hold a series of elimination races to pick the American team of three boats which the terms of the contest allow, as it was considered that Miss America II, a new boat owned by "Gar" Wood, and powered with four Liberty aero motors, Miss America I, winner of last year's race, and Miss Chicago, were the three most dependable boats.
The first race for this trophy was postponed from September 3 to 5, due to an accident to Maple Leaf while tuning up. This boat is a radical departure from the English speed boats which have raced for this trophy in the past and she looked more like some of the American boats turned out by Chris Smith. She is a single step plane about 32½ feet in length by 9 feet. 2 inches beam, and she is powered with four Sunbeam motors aggregating 1,800 H. P., the engines being those that were used in Maple Leaf V last year. She looked very fast and in her trials had shown great bursts of speed. She had, however, the same lope or hobby horse motion (though to a lesser extent) that was apparent in the English boats of last year, and in this respect she did not run with the same smoothness and balance of the American boats.
When the boats got the gun for the first 40-mile heat the four entries came down for the line in the most spectacular start of the entire meeting. Going apparently over 70 miles an hour, Maple Leaf VII was first over in a tremendous burst of speed, 12 seconds after the gun. Following her but a few lengths behind came Miss America II, her 48 exhausts going like a rapid fire gun, while close behind her were Miss America I and Miss Chicago. "Gar" Wood, in the new Miss America, opened up wide and gradually closed up on the Britisher until at the first buoy he was close astern of her, and as they went up the backstretch he passed Maple Leaf and took the lead. At this point the first Miss America, with George Wood at the wheel, had drawn abeam of the challenger and Miss Chicago was also closing up on her. As they came into the home stretch Miss America I was in the lead with Maple Leaf running third and Miss Chicago last and in this position they went by the judges' stand at the completion of the first lap. It was seen then that Maple Leaf had slowed down somewhat and on the second lap Miss Chicago caught and passed the challenger, who was evidently in trouble, for a little later she stopped, started to fill with water and settled by the stern. A patrol boat went to her assistance, gave her a line and towed her into a slip, but she sank just before she could be lifted out of the water, the bottom of the boat having been smashed by the terrific pounding she received in one lap.
This, of course, put her out of the series for good and on the third lap Miss America II again took the lead. While she was not opened up she finished the 40-mile heat in 46 minutes, 16.2 seconds, or at the rate of 59.8 statute miles per hour. Her best lap was at the rate of 71.1 statute miles per hour. Miss America I, which has been one of the most consistent performers, also sprang a leak in the fourth round and was forced to make for her slip. This let Miss Chicago finish in second place. She completed the course in 54 minutes, 48 seconds, or at an average of 50.3 miles per hour.
In the mile trials Miss America II averaged 80.567 miles per hour.
(Reprinted from Yachting, October 1921, pp.167-170, 195)