The Racing Season of 1909

That interest in motorboat racing is widespread is evident to anyone who even casually studies the records of the year. There were nearly 900 separate and distinct events in motorboat racing, the localities of which were scattered from Maine to Southwestern California, from Florida to British Columbia. And it is not to be understood that these nearly 900 events make up the complete racing record of the season. They are the events, generally speaking, of the greater importance of the year and specifically those which the most correct and best-kept records were available. There were many hundreds of races during the year, of which little ever became known outside of the locality in which they occurred, or concerning which records are not easily secured at the end of the season.

The racing waters include the entire length of the Atlantic seaboard from Maine to Florida, with the exception perhaps of a short trip in the vicinity of Cape Hatteras, the Gulf coast, or rather, some parts of it, the Hudson River in the East, the Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi and other streams of the gigantic middle-western watershed, the Great Lakes and nearly every portion of the Pacific coast wherever there are harbors. It also includes any number of the smaller bodies of water in the Middle West and Northwest.

Strange to say, the record, in so far as number of days of racing is concerned, is held by the British Columbian town of Nelson, where the Kootenay Club held races on fourteen separate days, and there were several classes on each day. Next in importance, in so far as number of racing days is concerned was at the other extreme of the continent and almost but not quite due east, at Winthrop, Mass. Thirteen days were given up to racing by the Winthrop Yacht Club, covering a period beginning on June 12th and ending on September 6th. Then there were many clubs whose programs covered periods of six, seven or eight days, as, for instance, the Ocean City Yacht Club of New Jersey, the Independent Yacht and Boat Club of Long Island, had eight days each; the Jubilee Yacht Club in Massachusetts waters, the Motor Boat Club of Savannah, and the Seattle Motor Boat Club six days each; while in the interior, the Pewaukee Yacht Club, on a Minnesota lake, raced on nine separate days, Spring Lake Motor Boat Club of Michigan seven days, the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club of Hamilton, Ont., six days, and the Interlake Yacht Racing Association of the Great Lakes six days. Each of these organizations had many classes on most of its race days. Even the little Huguenot Yacht Club at New Rochelle, just under the shadow of the New York City boundary, had racing on five separate days, although the number of starters was never large on any one day. Greenwood Lake is also an active racing center, as there were races on that sheet of water on five separate days, and many classes on each day. Even Moosehead Lake, away down in Maine and away up in the mountains, had races on four days during the Summer. There does not appear to be such a great preponderance of interest in the Middle West, therefore, as had been popularly supposed. The fact is that the motorboat, and, as a consequence, motorboat racing, appeals to all localities very much alike, excepting possibly certain stretches of water in the east, and even there the interest is growing.

In the vicinity of New York the sort of racing which appeals perhaps the most strongly is the cruising or long distance contest. The Marblehead race, for example. Is now a classic event, the Block Island race is fairly attractive to motorboat owners, the New York Motor Boat Club’s race to Albany and return proved to be a very strong drawing card, and the long-distance races of the National Carnival and of the Hudson-Fulton program proved to be attractive to owners of the boats suited for that sort of work. In the interior there are some long-distance races, especially those on Lake Erie, Lake Michigan and Lake Ontario, but for the greater part when one gets away from the coast, the interest is concentrated largely in short-distance races in which purely racing craft appear.

Aside from the cruising races, the events of greatest importance in eastern waters were the raced of the National Carnival, so-called, and those of the Hudson-Fulton celebration. The classes were well-filled in each of these events, but in each class there was something of extraordinary interest outside that of the race itself to assist in getting entries.

Curiously enough, the records show that there is little disposition on the part of racing men to go very far away from home. Of the great number of winners mentioned, scarcely a dozen went out of their home waters. A very few, like Buffalo Courier, Dixie II, and Hoosier Boy were sent on occasion many miles away from home, and not under their own power either, to participate in important events. Lamb IV, which made a fine record in western waters, traveled no great distance from that section of the Mississippi River and its tributaries immediately above St. Louis; and the records of some of the best-known boats of the east, such as Peter Pan II, Gunfire II and others, were made within a very few miles of New York City. Whether this is due to the lack of system or uniformity in the arrangement and handling of races, or to the fact that the boat owners prefer to gain full experience in their home waters before going abroad, cannot be said; possibly something is due to each of these considerations.

One thing has to be made quite evident in the compilation of the records printed; that is, that most race officials paid too little attention to making exact records and records suitable for preservation in permanent form.

(Transcribed from MotorBoat, Dec. 25, 1909, p. 48)