1931 Biscayne Bay Regatta
Miami Beach Breaks All Records
Commodore Gar Wood Establishes New World Record
and Drives First Boat to Make One Hundred Miles an Hour
Outboard, Runabout and Cruiser Classes Well Filled and Provide Keen Competition
All hats off to Miami Beach! The doubtful ones stated that it would be impossible to stage a successful regatta in Florida this winter—that there would be no entries, no spectators on shore to view the races and as there were few northern yachts in the south this winter, the number of boats around the course would be negligible. To the contrary, there were more competing boats and drivers, a larger fleet of visiting yachts and more spectators on shore than have ever before viewed a southern regatta. All in all it was the most successful two days of racing that has ever happened anywhere for a long time.
True, we were blessed with two perfect days, from a weather and water standpoint, typical Miami Beach weather. And as a finale, with Gar Wood setting up a new world record of 102.256 miles per hour over a one nautical mile straightaway and being the first man to ever drive a boat 100 miles an hour, it gave the entire regatta an amount of publicity which has seldom been equalled.
There was hardly a type or size of boat which was not included in the competition, outboards of all classes and divisions, runabouts from 55 horsepower up to the unlimited class. 151 inch, and 125 inch hydroplanes, cruisers and express cruisers and even motor gondolas. The last event of the two-days raring was Chance Race. Some thirty craft of all sizes and type started in this event which made the most colorful spectacle seen for many a moon.
Naturally Gar Wood, with his Miss America IX, was the star attraction. He had his boat out for exhibition runs a both days of the regatta and although the course on Flamingo Bay on which the competitive events were held were only 1½ miles in length, yet the bursts of speed shown by Miss America IX gave the crowd of many thousands of spectators the kind of thrills they had never before experienced. These exhibitions also were an indication of what speed Miss America IX was likely to show when she would be driven to the limit on the mile straightaway course on Indian Creek two days later in the attempt to set up a new world record. There was little doubt in the minds of anyone but that the attempt would be crowned with success.
In the outboard events there were races for Classes A, B, C and F with events for both amateur and professional drivers. The events for the professionals had the greater number of starters but this was to be expected as most of them were recruited from the ranks of the F. O. M. A., which organization was co-operating with the Miami Beach Yacht Club. Only professional races are promoted by the F. O. M. A., so most of the amateur drivers came from outside of the State of Florida. This year for the first time since outboard drivers have been segregated into divisions, the Colonel E. H. R. Green Trophy race was made an open event, that is, open to both amateur and professional drivers. The change was a welcome one as this event attracted the greatest number of starters to the line it ever has had.
The Class A event was won by Mrs. Atwood driving Orange Bud powered with a Caille motor.
In Class B Open, Earl Gresh took first place in the first two heats and third in the last heat, giving him a sufficient number of points for first prize. His best speed was 35.10 miles per hour. B. E. Lamb of Jacksonville was second in all three heats, thus winning second prize and W. T. Crawford took third prize. Hub Myers of Bay City, Michigan, made the fastest speed in this class, averaging 35.49 miles per hour in the third heat. However, the best Mr. Myers was able to finish in the first heat was sixth, and tenth in the second heat, which gave him fourth position in the final point scoring. John J. Maypole was the only amateur competing in Class B. His best speed was 31.09 m.p.h. A total of fourteen boats finished the three heats in Class B.
In the Class C amateur events, four boats finished the two heats, first prize being taken by C. Mulford Scull of Atlantic City, and second prize going to John J. Maypole. The best speed in this class was 36.21 m.p.h. In Class C Professional, a race consisting of two heats of 4 miles each, Dick Neal of Bay City finished with a perfect score of 800 points, G. Roberts of Clearwater. Florida, took second in each heat and Harrison Fraser of Auburndale, Florida, third in the first heat, and fifth in the second heat. The best speed in this Class C Professional division was 39.05 m.p.h. Some twenty boats started, with fourteen finishing.
John J. Maypole took both of the three mile Class F amateur heats, with the fastest speed of 32.16 miles per hour. Al Nagel of Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, was second and Red Woodworth of Evansville, Illinois, finished in third place.
In the Class F Professional race, first place was won by Ray Pregenzer of Antioch, Illinois, driving an Elto motor. Mr. Pregenzer's best speed for a 4 mile heat was 39.55 miles per hour. Harrison Fraser of Auburndale, driving a Johnson motor, finished first in the second heat of this race but gathered a total of 689 points, which was only sufficient to give him second place in the final point scoring. Dick Neal of Bay City, Michigan, finished third and Guy Roberts of Clearwater. Florida, fourth. All together, ten boats finished the two heats.
The race for the Colonel Green Trophy consisted of two heats of 4½ miles each. This was an open race for both amateur and professional drivers, using stock motors but of unlimited piston displacement. Competition for this Colonel Green Trophy was very keen and the drivers so on edge, that a considerable number of them were disqualified for starting ahead of the starting gun. The first heat had to be entirely re-run as some twenty boats out of a field of 26 starters, were over the line ahead of the starting flag and caused so much confusion that it was impossible for the Judges and Scorers to determine the racing numbers of the boats so starting. Therefore, the Florida Outboard Association ruled the first heat "no race," and ordered same re-run. This was rather hard un Hub Myers who had finished in first place and a few of the other drivers who had made a fair start but all of them were good sports and readily consented to re-running the race. It was particularly hard on Mr. Myers as he was disqualified in one of the later heats for starting ahead of the starting gun, although he finished in first place. Ray Preganzer driving an Elto Class F motor came in first in the first heat and third in the second heat, giving him a total of 724 points, sufficient to win this coveted trophy. Dick Neal of Bay City finished second in both heats, with a total of 722 points, giving him second place in the final scoring. Colonel Tooey of St. Petersburg finished fourth in the first heat and fifth in the second heat giving him a total of 545 points and third place in the final scoring. The best speed in the race was 40.48 m.p.h. made by Hub Myers who finished first in the second heat but as he was disqualified for starting ahead of the gun in the first heat, his total point score was only 40U giving him sixth place in the entire race. H. E. Tennes of Palm Beach finished in fourth place in the final scoring and W. T. Craw ford of Miami took fifth.
In the events for the 151 inch hydroplanes, Chris Ripp's boats Meadowmere II, Miss Daytona and Bayhead II finished first, second and third in both the limited and unlimited races. It, owned by H. L. Brown of Houston, Texas, and driven by Frank Robertson finished in fourth position. Elmer H. Johnson's Sparrow VI was fifth, and Voila owned by George Gingras of Rockledge finished in sixth position. The best speed made by the 151 inch hydroplanes was shown by Meadowmere II with Frank Ripp at the helm, at 45.14 miles per hour.
The events for the Prigg runabouts, a new class of boats recently designed by Paul Prigg of Miami, Florida, and built by A. H. Ramsey and Son, proved one of the most interesting of the whole regatta. These are 20 footers powered with 40 horsepower motors showing a speed of about 30 miles per hour. They ran in excellent form, were exceptionally dry and showed a speed and running qualities which were very remarkable. The Prigg runabouts competed in two three mile heats, the fastest speed being shown by the runabout owned by H. H. Childs who took first place in the first heat. However, Mr. Childs made a false start in the second heat and although he came in first, he was disqualified. Seven boats of this class competed, all of which completed the two heats without trouble.
The event for the new 125 inch hydroplane class was considerable of a disappointment, only two boats showing up for this event. It was won by Century II driven by George Moore, with a similar boat owned by B. E. Lamb finishing second.
The 125 horse power class was won by Gar Wood, Jr., driving a Gar Wood runabout powered with a Chrysler motor. This boat showed a speed of 30.26 miles per hour in the second heat. Muskateer II, owned by A. H. Howell of Miami, a Hackercraft powered with a 200 horse power Sterling motor took first place in both heats of the 200 hp class. In the 225 horse power class, Humpty Dumpty, a Chris-Craft driven by Maud Hughes of New York finished in first place and Jay Jay, another Chris-Craft owned by E. R. Jones finished in second place. However, the Committee ruled that this latter boat was out of her class and second place was awarded to Neddy, owned and driven by John L. Rutherfurd. Eight runabouts started in the two heats of this 225 horse power class, which provided interesting competition.
Why Not, owned and driven by John L. Rutherfurd of New York was the winner in the 250 horse power class. This race consisted of two heats of 4½ miles each. Madoshumi, owned by H. Mendelson of Detroit was the first boat to finish in the first heat, with Jay Jay, driven by E. R. Jones finishing second but both of these boats started ahead of the starting signal and therefore, were obliged to make an extra lap and placed fourth and fifth in the first heat. Madoshumi finished ahead of Why Not in the second heat but on point scoring was only able to obtain 656 points in the final score. Both Why Not and Madoshumi are Chris-Crafts powered with Chris-Craft motors and showed a speed of 40.61 miles per hour.
The Displacement boat Free for All was won by Peter Strasburger driving a Gar Wood runabout and showing a speed of 42.58 m.p.h. Madoshumi was second and another Baby Gar runabout driven by Orlin Johnson finished in third position. Strasburger also won the Grand Free for All in his Baby Gar at a speed of 42.12 miles per hour. with Madoshumi driven by C. M. Perry in second place and Why Not owned and driven by John L. Rutherfurd finishing third.
Two events for express cruisers were held, one a scratch and the other a handicap affair. Both events were won by Robinson Sea Gull owned by George D. Lynn of Palm Beach.
In the scratch express cruiser race, second place was taken by Furlough owned by P. M. Gelatt of Miami Beach and third place by Cora S III owned by Kenneth G. Smith of Chicago. Second place in the handicap cruiser race was taken by Haredith owned by Henry W. Breyer and third prize by Bambazoo owned by John Wanamaker, Jr.
Gar Wood's mile trials attracted the biggest crowd of spectators that had ever assembled along the banks of Indian Creek, Miami Beach. where the trials were held. An effort had been made to keep the time of the trials a secret to avoid the presence of a lot of wave making spectator boats on the course, which would have made fast time an impossibility. But the evening paper carried a three line flash that the trials would be held at nine o'clock on the following morning. Long before nine o'clock arrived the Police Department had to be called to unravel the traffic snarls that resulted from the congestion of cars along the course.
Before the trials could be made it was necessary to run two wires the entire distance between the starting and finishing points as the rules require that no trials are official unless electrically timed. The one statute mile course had been previously surveyed by the Official Surveyor, John Duffy and permanent monuments placed at each end with two ranges at each end as well. Odis Porter, an official timer of the American Power Boat Association was present with his electrical timing machine capable of recording the time down to one thousandth part of a second. Assisting Mr. Porter at the north end of the course and acting as official timers and observers were Bruno Beckhard of Flushing, N. Y., with Steve Hanagan and Joseph Copps of Miami Beach. The timers and observers at the southern end of the one-mile straightaway were E. C. McHugh of Cincinnati, John Shibe of Philadelphia and C. F, Chapman of New York.
Commodore Wood made several warming up runs to see that everything was functioning properly and to acquaint him with the land marks along the course. He was at the wheel and of course Orlin Johnson was handling the throttles. After each run, the motors of Miss America IX were stopped and some ten minutes were allowed for the waters of Indian Creek to calm down, although this was hardly necessary as the boat running at this speed made practically no waves and left no wake.
It was about eleven o'clock when Commodore Wood signalled the timers that he was ready to begin his two official runs, one in each direction. He took a flying start of less than half a mile and as he crossed the starting line, the time was recorded on the tape of the electric timing machine. Down the course he came, straight as an arrow, faster than any boat had ever been driven before. Steady as a locomotive, with not the sign of a jump in the boat, he approached the end of the mile in less time than it takes to tell this. Click went the timing machine recording the end of the first run. Only a moment was necessary for Mr. Porter to read off the time which had been recorded on the tape. 35.73 seconds he announced, equivalent to 100.756 miles per hour. A mighty cheer went up from the crowd — one hundred miles an hour in a boat, the speed mark sought for years and years had been made. The return run on the one statute mile course was made in even better time 35.45 seconds, equivalent to 101.551 miles per hour. The average of the two runs. 101.154 miles per hour become a new world's record for any distance.
The International rules which are in force in Europe, require that trials to be recognized as world's records must be made on a nautical mile course of 6,080 feet instead of on a statute mile course. Therefore, Commodore Wood decided to try to establish a new record on such a course during the afternoon of the same day. The surveyors were called into action and 800 feet added to the statute mile course to make it one nautical mile in length.
Miss America IX's time on the first run was 40.50 seconds equivalent to 102.357 statute miles per hour. Her second run was made in 40.58 seconds or 102.155 miles per hour, the average being 102.256 miles per hour, the second world's record made is one day.
Miss America IX used the same two Packard motors with which she raced at Detroit last September. The motors were not supercharged. After the runs, when Commodore Wood was commenting on them, he mentioned that he attributed considerable of his success to the use of Duplex oil. He has used Duplex oil and Champion plugs in all his raceboats for many years.
After waiting for several days for favorable weather Gar Wood made further attempts to better the record which he established in March. On April 16 this attempt was made the same course at Miami Beach which he used previously. Numerous runs were made up and down the measured nautical mile and the best two way runs made within the allowed thirty-minute period averaged 103.069 miles per hour. The single run was made on the last attempt when he achieved 103.249 miles per hour.
[Reprinted from Yachting [?], May 1931]