World Speed Record (Gold Cup Boats) [1940]

Three-Engined Gray Goose III Sets New Gold Cup Record

Rockledge Florida, February 24, 1940

The one mile world's record for Gold Cup boats which has been held by an Italian boat since Count Theo Rossi drove his Alagi over the official one mile course on the Potomac at Washington, D. C., at a speed of 91.408 miles per hour on September 27, 1937, has been brought back to America. On February 24 at Rockledge, Florida, George C. Cannon's Gray Goose III was driven in official mile trial runs at an average speed of 92.309 miles per hour.

The establishment of this new one mile world record was perhaps not the most important feature of these trials. They really officially inaugurated a new era in Gold Cup speed boat design and construction. For the first time in history a triple screw boat, powered with moderately priced stock motors, demonstrated that such an installation is a practical one.

The total cost of Gray Goose III is probably less than 25 per cent of that of many other modern Gold Cup boats, yet she was able to go faster over the water than any other boat of her class has ever officially done. Gray Goose's motors are not supercharged; yet she was able to break not only the unsupercharged record but the supercharged one as well. The former record was held by John M. L. Rutherfurd's Juno, which established a record of 89.776 miles per hour at Miami Beach, Florida, on March 21, 1938.

Technically, Gray Goose's hull is an orthodox Apel design, almost exactly of the same type as the many successful boats of the 225 cubic inch class which this designer and builder has turned out during the last several years, but with a number of refinements suggested by Mr. Cannon. Her dimensions of length and beam are somewhat greater than the 225's but the under-body design is quite similar.

But it is in the arrangement and installation of the power plant that the ingenuity and resourcefulness of Mr. Cannon really shine. As is well known, power plants of 732 cubic inches—the size specified by the, Gold Cup rules—are not available in this country. Anyone desiring to obtain a motor of this size must have it built to order at a cost of perhaps $15,000 up. Even then such a motor would require months or years of experimentation or "running in" before it would be able to run 90 miles at full speed, the distance required in the Gold Cup race. At least past history has demonstrated this.

Mr. Cannon, who has owned a number of 225 cubic inch boats, several of which have been Apel designed and built, and most of them record holders, knew what fine and reliable motors his 225's had been powered with. Furthermore, the 225 rules do not permit a motor, the retail price of which is more than $700, to be used in the boats of this class. On the other hand the Gold Cup rules do not allow a power plant of less than 600 cubic inches to be used in boats in this class.

So the only thing left for Mr. Cannon to do if he desired to use the 225 cubic inch motors would be to use three of them in a single hull. This had never been done in a Gold Cup boat. Most of the experts advised against such an arrangement. It would never work, Mr. Cannon was told. The boat wouldn't steer, or do many other things that a good Gold Cup boat should do. It would even be too heavy to plane properly. But Mr. Cannon had other ideal He was even willing to give such an arrangement a try. So he gave Apel an order for such a boat.

Gray Goose's power plant consists of three 6 cylinder Lycoming motors of approximately 223 cubic inches piston displacement each. Each motor develops approximately 175 horsepower, thus totaling 525 horse power for the three. Each motor has a separate shaft and propeller although they are all three controlled by one foot throttle. The motors running at slightly under 5000 revolutions per minute drive their propellers at about 7000 rpm as the motors are equipped with over-drive gears having a ratio of 1.51 to 1. Stannus two blade propellers, 10½ inches in diameter by 15 inch pitch are used. The total weight of Gray Goose is around 3450 pounds. Weldwood is used largely in her construction. Kendall oil and 87 octane Standard Oil gasoline are used.

Even from the first, Gray Goose has been remarkably successful. She has handled well both in smooth and rough water. Her ability to turn is what everyone has marvelled at, even though the three motors all turn at the same speed.

Much of the development work on Gray Goose III under Mr. Cannon's own supervision has been handled by Hugh Gingras who is always found at her wheel with his mechanic Eugene McKeown alongside of him in the cockpit.

So far Mr. Cannon has not entered his boat in any competitive event preferring to completely test out his ideas about a 3-engined Gold Cup boat before taking any undue chances. While the complete boat's weight of around 3450 pounds is slightly heavier than was anticipated and her extreme speed may not be as high as her owner anticipated yet from almost every standpoint the experiment must be rated a great success. Much development and progress is bound to result from what Mr. Cannon has demonstrated to a doubting world.

As we go to press, we learn that Lou Fageol drove his Gold Cup hydroplane, So Long, over a measured mile at Newport Beach, Calif., on March 16, at an average speed of 97.447 m.p.h. This record, if approved, will surpass that just made by Mr. Cannon. In unofficial tests So Long has been credited with a speed of 105 m.p.h.

(Reprinted from Motor Boating, May 1940)