Melvin Crook

Melvin Crook [1936]

Mel Crook, 1936
Mel Crook, 1936

Judging from the number of Princeton graduates who have made their mark in some form or another on the water, one is led to believe that this university must have a course in applied yachting. Perhaps the speediest of those Princetonians who have taken to boats for recreation is Melvin Crook, who was not satisfied until he set a mile trial record of 85.511 miles, the fastest ever made in the United States in a single-engined boat. Whether he will be permanently satisfied with that mark remains for the future to show.

Spending his summers on Lake George, which has witnessed considerable in the way of speed boat development, Melvin Crook became interested in boats early in life. The speed virus began to take effect some eight years ago when he went into his first race with a Chris-Craft runabout named Betty II. But she didn't long satisfy his desire for competition in faster company and in 1930 he bought the Sweepstakes Class boat Rowdy and put one of those Liberty motors in her, calling her the Betty III. She served him for three years, until she "cracked-up" in the Free-For-All Sweepstakes at Washington in 1933, and went to the bottom of the Potomac. It was then he decided that if he was going to stay in the game he should have an outfit with which he could go places.

So Walter Buskee designed and built for him his present boat, Betty V (he is constant in his names) in which he put a 12-cylinder racing motor. Since 1934 this boat has never been beaten. As she was not built to Gold Cup restrictions, racing in this class was barred to her owner, but, entering the boat in all races for which she was eligible, she won, in 1934, the Lehman Trophy on Lake George, the National Sweepstakes, run that year at Baltimore, and the American Speedboat Championship at Washington. The last two events Melvin Crook has won regularly since then, and in 1935 he took, in addition, the Mortimer Auerbach Trophy, at Atlantic City.

Crook is a member of the Lake George Yacht Club, and it has been claimed that he and George Reis, of the same club, are "teamed" to divide between them every important race.

(Reprinted from Yachting, November 1936)

[Note: other article about Crook's career will be added in the future]