1951 Presidents Cup
Miss Pepsi Takes The Presidents Cup Again!
Dossin brothers entry wins three straight heats in a field of five starters.
Speeds cut by rough going on the Potomac
By Malcolm Lamborne, Jr.
With William A. Rogers as co-chairman this year of the Presidents Cup regatta, its success was assured in advance. But the elements did much to upset man's plans.
Chuck Thompson and the Dossin brothers' Miss Pepsi have joined the ranks of George Reis and his El Lagarto and the late Clell Perry with Notre Dame, all two-time winners of the Presidents Cup in winning the gold trophy in Washington late in September. Thompson demonstrated anew that Miss Pepsi is the top flight Gold Cup boat—east of the Rockies, of course.
The Detroit Y.C. entry took all three heats at speeds nowhere close to Miss Pepsi's lap, heat and race records for a Presidents Cup Regatta set a year earlier. And with 800 bonus points for the fastest heat and race, the twin-Allison racer wound up with a top heavy score of 2000 points. Joseph Schoenith's Gale II, driven by his son Lee, finished with 825: Horace Dodge's Hornet, driven by Bill Cantrell had 525, and Dodge's My Sweetie, handled for two heats by Walter Kade and then by Guy Lombardo, 338 points. A fifth starter. Roland Flanagan's small, out-classed Chesapeake Cat, driven by Robert Dawson of Baltimore, covered only three of six laps of the first heat, then retired from the course.
From the opening gun Saturday morning until the final event around sundown Sunday, the Potomac River off Hains Point was stirred up by first a fresh southerly, then an equally gusty northerly wind. Ironically, the sailing phase of the regatta program a week earlier was marked alternately by light airs and calms. Coming at the time of the autumnal equinox, the regatta seems destined for unsettled conditions.
President Truman had planned to watch the first heat for the Gold Cuppers on Saturday. But when a wind sweeping up from Alexandria. Va., showed no signs of easing, drivers and owners of the unlimited hydros voted unanimously at the Naval Air Station pits to postpone the heat until the following day when two other heats also were slated. Word went out to the White House, and the President dropped the idea. Those at the pits had ample evidence that the Potomac was angry about something. For hours. outboards which opened the program had been flipping over, drowning out and generally making life tough for their drivers. In addition, Danny Foster took Jack Schafer's Such Crust I out for a trial off Hains Point and reported that it was bad.
It was also agreed that the few inboard events on Saturday's program would be held the next day. Well. Sunday dawned cool and clear, with the wind out of the north. While it had as much force as Saturday, the sweep of the river in that direction was considerably shorter and the chop much less. That fact saved the day.
Five boats went across the starting line in the first heat for the Presidents Cup out of an anticipated field of eight entries. (Lombardo's Tempo VI, Schoenith's Gale and Such Crust I, all developed engine or hull difficulties before the start.) Pepsi was out in front from the word go. By the half-way mark of the heat, she had lapped Chesapeake Cat and was better than half a mile ahead of Hornet which was closely followed by Gale, then My Sweetie. On the final circuit, Thompson sped past My Sweetie. Pepsi got the checkered flag; Hornet and Gale were just starting their final lap.
Pepsi's average for the 15 miles was 81.372 m.p.h. as against last year's record of 88.725. Her best lap was the first, at 84.270. Here, too, the contrast with the record of 95.038 last year was marked.
Hornet and My Sweetie went across the starting line in the second heat ahead of Pepsi, but by the time Thompson was rounding the 5-buoy upper turn he had Pepsi out front. By now having taken the measure of the field, Thompson took it easier and remained but 300 to 500 yards ahead of Hornet and Gale. These two, meanwhile, were putting on a good show for second place. Lee Schoenith tried in vain to pass Cantrell. On the final lap, Pepsi appeared to falter coming up for the finish; Cantrell was pushing Hornet very hard, and the crowd roared. But Thompson "saved" the race for Walter and Roy Dossin in the closest finish of the day. Gale was third and My Sweetie a poor fourth.
Hornet Hits 81.081 M.P.H.
As a measure of Cantrell's efforts to overtake Pepsi, the Dodge boat was clocked at 81.081 for the sixth lap which, oddly enough, was faster than any that Pepsi made in that heat. Cantrell hit the line right at the gun for the final heat, closely followed by Pepsi. However, the latter was in front in less time than you can say Miss Pepsi. The race settled down to a carbon copy of the second heat.
But, as Hornet was finishing the fourth lap in second place, the boat slowed down. Cantrell swung her slowly around and headed for the pits. His gearbox, which wasn't adequately secured, was threatening to shake loose.
On the fifth lap, Pepsi overtook My Sweetie, now driven by Lombardo. The latter who had been trailing Gale by a considerable margin washed out on the upper turn of the sixth circuit. This left the race to Pepsi and Gale, which finished in that order. The winner's best lap speed this time was 80.717 and the average for the heat was 77.430. In figuring out the race speed, Pepsi averaged 78.611, in contrast to 83.450 for the 45 miles in 1950.
It was all over except the traditional trophy presentation at the White House, an event which did not come off for several weeks because of the crowded Presidential calendar.
The program got underway the first day after an hour and a half delay, caused by seas washing over launching barges at the outboard pits. Many drivers never took their outfits off trailers after they had a look at the river conditions. Those that did brave it came back wiser and sometimes sadder. At the outset, Mrs. Dorothy Mayer, of College Point, N. Y., demonstrated the fair sex knows how to take it. She led a reduced field in both heats for Midget hydros. In the second heat, only three boats started, all manned by women. Mrs. Eleanor Shakeshaft, of Mt. Kisco, N. Y., and Dorothy Schlesser, of Pittsburgh, Pa., did not survive more than a lap, however, Jimmy Altman. of New Kensington, Pa., took a second in the first heat.
In the Class A outboard hydros, Gil Petermann, of Malverne. N. Y., set a bruising pace in the first heat. He failed to get out for the second heat, and Joe Wotowitz of Hartford, Conn., was the leader. Young Paul Raynal, Jr., of Detroit, who has been learning the ropes with some coaching from ex-outboarder Chuck Thompson, was standout driver in B hydros, winning both heats.
Scoff Leads C Hydros
It was in C hydros that Vic Scott, of Levittown, N. Y., unintentionally put on the show of the afternoon. With a substantial lead in the first heat, he looked like a sure winner. Then, 10 yards from the finish, a sea washed out his engine. Vic eased forward on his boat, lifting up the stern, and following wind and sea pushed him over the finish under its own power to be counted, ahead of Ross Wark, of Audubon, N. Y. While the rules say a boat must finish under its own power to be counted, the Race Committee headed by Bill Rogers, one of the founders of the regatta, decided to make an exception. Their reasoning was that anyone who worked that hard deserved to win. Scott was the only starter in the next heat, but old devil seas got him this time for good.
Nobody was able to finish the first heat of the free-for-all outboard hydros. In the second, Ed Riggs of Washington won. followed by our friend, Scott. It remained for the BU stock utilities to muster the biggest field of the week. Out of 31 entries. 21 BUs started and eight finished. Nick Chapman, East Moriches. L.I., led the field, followed by Charles Bryant. Jr., Washington, and Charles Littleton, Millsboro, Del. This order was reversed the next heat—Littleton, Bryant and Chapman. A tie on points between Chapman and Littleton was broken in Chapman's favor by virtue of better elapsed time.
Stone Twice a Victor
Class DU honors went to Douglas Stone of Washington, who registered one of the few twin victories of the day. The day's program ended at this point; ended for everybody but the Coast Guard and Harbor Police who still had to complete rescue and towing operations.
The regatta was hardly underway on Sunday when Joe Mascari of New Hyde Park, N. Y., driving Sam DuPont's Hydrogen in the D-E Racing Runabout division, flipped over, throwing Mascari clear. The boat quickly sank and Mascari was as quickly rescued. When days later, the Navy retrieved Hydrogen, it was found badly damaged.
There were no other spills, however, until Tommy Russell, of Silver Spring, Md., finally succumbed to the temperamental Pacific One-design Black Magic. The boat threw Russell at the upper turn and slowly drifted to a stop near the spectator fleet. Black Magic, which Ed Nabb sought in vain to tame, has been doing that sort of thing for years. It sometimes catches fire, too.
The 225- and 135-cubic-inch hydros provided some of the best racing of the day. Bob Rowland of South Norfolk, Va. and Carl Ryberg of Detroit, tied on points — 700 each — in division 225; the tie was broken in Rowland's favor. Aubrey Thacker, of Washington won division two 225s. Young Bill Ritner, Merion. Pa., led a 9-boat field of 135s in both heats, with some close racing from Norfolk's Clarence Collins.
Frank Kocsis of Washington, and Roger Phelps of Hampton. Va., ended up with 70 points each in the PODS but Kocsis won out on better time. Other high point drivers included Elwood Pliescott, Cambridge. Md., D inboard racing runabouts; Al Endres, Grand Island. N. Y., E racing runabouts; Dick Cooper. Front Royal. Va., D service runabouts; W. K. Neville. Jr.. Norfolk, E service runabouts; Sam DuPont. Wilmington. Del., F service runabouts, and Paul Price, Arlington, Va., 48-cubic-inch hydros.
(Reprinted from Motor Boating, November 1951)