1949 Fite Memorial Marathon

Van Blerck First in Fite Marathon

Triumphs in Speed Boat Event at Ocean City

By Clarence E. Lovejoy

Ocean City, N.J., May 30 [1949] — Trying out for his first race of the year a newly fitted Gold Cup craft and engine, Joseph Van Blerck Jr., veteran regatta headliner of Freeport, L.I., today capture for the second straight year the John E. Fite Memorial marathon over a course that began and finished off the Ocean City Yacht Club.

Van Blerck's amazing time against strong tides and cross currents was 44:41.5 for a speed of better than fifty-six miles an hour. A minute behind in runner-up spot was Samuel [Correction: Daniel] J. Murphy of Merion, Pa., in Dee Jay IV.

Delay is Allowed

Van Blerck, who has shelved in a storage warehouse his famous Aljo V which won the Fite race in 1948, received a fifteen-minute delay to complete the tune-up of his new Aljo which has been "cannibalized" by using the 23-foot hull former christened Grey Goose and the famous sixteen-cylinder, eight-carburetor Miller-Zumbach motor that twice won America's Gold Cup, once for Zammie Simmons and later for Guy Lombardo in Tempo.

With Howard Edwards of Rockville Centre riding alongside as mechanic, Van Blerck gunned Aljo into the lead soon after rounding Great Egg Inlet buoy and stayed in front pretty much as he pleased. Fifteen starters tore off at the signal, eleven reached the turnaround marker of Mays Landing, and ten finished.

The circuitous course, sometimes dangerously narrowed by sandbars and middle ground, carried the fleet under drawbridges at Somers Point and off Beesleys Point and thence up Great Egg Harbor River post English Creek Landing, Catawba, Thompsontown, Clarkstown and to the head of navigation of Mays Landing. En route Leonard Gatter's Beaver broke down, slipping out his riding partner, William Kane.

Bright Future Seen

Van Blerck's victory provided handwriting on the wall that his newly contrived Aljo will be a Gold Cup entry to beat at Detroit on July 2 and in all the other super-powered blue ribbon regatta classics of the summer, including possibly the Harmsworth as well. Smooth even in rough water, Aljo had a steadiness despite its light weight and short over-all length.

In today's Fite Memorial, two Shrewsbury River Jersey seaskiffs joined a more powerful fleet, Steve Schmidt of Long Branch finishing fifth and Marshall Van Winkle Jr. of Oceanport tenth.

The Summaries
Fite Memorial Marathon
1 Aljo Joseph Van Blerck, Jr. Freeport, L.I. 44:41.5
2 Dee Jay IV D.J. Murphy, Jr. Merion, Pa 45:41:00
3 Jennie Lee J. Elwood Lee Longport, N.J. 52:17:00
4 Louise J.H. Fisher Millville, N.J. 53:18:00
5 Susan S.J. Schmidt Long Branch, N.J. 54:29:00
6 Chicraig J.H. Stiles Melrose Park, Pa. 54:31:00
7 Say Yes R.J. Griffin Philadelphia, Pa. 55:20:00
8 Sea Winds Earl Crouse Denton, Md. 55:31:00
9 Three R's E.A. Ritner Merion, Pa. 57:43:00
10 If Marshall Van Winkle, Jr. Oceanport, N.J. 1:04:02

 

[Reprinted from the New York Times, May 30, 1949]