1905 Vanderbilt Cup

Long Distance Race For The W. K. Vanderbilt Jr. Cup

The Seawanhaka Corinthian Y.C., under whose auspices this race was held, is a member of the American Power Boat Association, but apparently the club cares nothing about the rules of the association, since in the race on Wednesday last the boat which got the cup violated at least two of the rules. Fortunately for the committee in charge a clause was inserted in the rules governing the race as follows: "Except as modified herein, the racing rules of the Seawanhaka Corinthian Y.C. will govern." Perhaps their rules allow a boat to quit the race and then when no boats are left to return, to take on board extra men during a race, to land at piers and vessels to leave the course during a race. Most clubs do not allow such an interruption of their racing rules. Still, had the ordinary racing rules been enforced, there would have been no race at all, as Simplex III, the only other boat to finish on the third time around cut inside buoy No. 15 off Center Island Point. The printed rules issued by the committee before the race distinctly state that boats must keep outside of buoy No. 15. While there is not a particle of doubt but that the helmsman of Simplex III simply made an error, and did not gain thereby, still the boat did not cover the course properly, and consequently should have been disqualified.

The weather before the start looked very dubious, a fine driving mist and dull gray clouds flying pst caused predictions of considerable wind on the Sound. At the club float lay Dixie and XPDNC side by side. Hiawatha and Veritas anchored off the pier, and Simplex III, attended by Simplex I, lay off in the harbor. Instructions were given by the different captains, and the committee, on board S. Y. Lavrock, owned by Vice Com. W. J. Matheson, moved out to the beginning of the course off Lloyds Point, and established a starting line.

The course was from the starting line Westerly to and around the black spar buoy "F 17½" off Matinicock Point and mark boats No. 2 and No. 3, making a turn with a radius of about a quarter of a mile. Thence Easterly to and around mark boats No. 4 and No. 1 and buoy "H 1," making a turn with the same radius as before. Course to be gone over six times, on the last time to cross the finish line instead of rounding mark boat No. 4. Boats to keep outside buoys No. 15 and G 16½." Total distance 89 knots or 102 statute miles.

Just before the warning whistle at 12 noon, Dart, the speed tender of U.S.S. Sylph, in charge of Lieut. Evans, was lowered overboard from Sylph and warmed up for the contest. Dart is an ordinary lightly constructed yacht tender, 25 feet over all, and equipped with a 25 h.p. Standard Auto-Marine engine. Preparatory signal was blown at 12:05 P.M. and all the entries, Dixie, Dart, Hiawatha and XPDNC, with the exception of Veritas were on hand and ready. Veritas came out shortly after, and as usual with Mr. Stein, maneuvered about some distance from the line. Hiawatha appeared in difficulties and drifted off to leeward, unable, probably, to start the engine. The start was made at 12:10 P.M., and little Dart, which had been lying almost on the line, got over first, closely followed by XPDNC and Simplex III, with Dixie a few lengths behind; and Veritas, away off inshore, off course, was handicapped one minute, the engine apparently running unevenly. Hiawatha, still in difficulties, did not start. Dixie was poorly steered, and took several rank sheers to starboard. Very few boats were at the start, probably owing to the threatening weather, which, while not pleasant from a spectacular point of view, was not bad for the racers. The Wind was moderately light from about South South-West, sea fairly smooth, with a fine mist. Among the yacht present were S.Y. Tuscarora, owned by Miss Jennings; S.Y. Taro, Orlando F. Thomas; U.S.S. Sylph, S.Y. Orion, Arnold Thayer; Nanita, Clifford V. Brokaw; the club boat, steamer Seawanhaka, and about a score of power boats.

XPDNC finished the first round, going beautifully, followed some thirteen seconds later by Dixie. After finishing and continuing about 100 ft. on her course, Dixie quit, and coming alongside the committee boat her crew made known by signs that, owing to the boat heeling and the cross sea, they had decided to quit. Nothing was apparently wrong with the engine or crew, and Dixie slowly continued up the harbor, and later it was reported she had tied up to the float. Veritas was the third boat to complete the third round, making a very poor turn. Simplex III turned fourth, and Dart, considerably by the head, probably half full of water, ran alongside of Sylph and was hoisted up on the davits.

Veritas was throwing water high in the air as she passed, and solid spray hurled directly into the helmsman's face made steering difficult.

XPDNC was first on the second round and slowed down; her crew shouted for oil, but no supply being in sight, she continued on the course. Veritas finished the second round 11 minutes 20 seconds behind XPDNC, her engine running badly. At the lower end of the course she broke down and was seen no more.

Just before reaching the committee boat on the third lap, XPDNC stopped to take on oil, and owing to her thrust bearings running dry (which were put in hurriedly to allow the boat to compete in the race) the mechanic was unable to start the engine, and she was taken in tow for the harbor. The withdrawal of XPDNC left but Simplex III, and barring accidents she must win the cup. It was here that the main event of the day occurred. Dixie came out from the harbor with her owner, E. R. Thomas on board, running alongside S.Y. Taro, owned by his brother, Orlando F. Mr. Thomas was transferred on board, and Dixie, to the astonishment and surprise of every one, continued over the course at 1:53:13, after being off the course 59 minutes 58 seconds.

While everybody was discussing the action of Dixie, along came Simplex III on her third round, and lopped off a buoy on the course, putting her ordinarily out of the race, but as the race was run off under any but the ordinary methods, the spectators hardly knew what next to expect.

Rule XIX, of the American Power Boat Association, reads: * * * "A boat shall not warp or kedge, or make fast to any pier, vessel or other object." * * *

Rule XII reads: "No person shall board or leave a boat after the starting signal has been made, except in case of accident, or injury to a person on board."

As Dixie went down the course, she took a frightful sheer to starboard, almost overturning. Under the conditions, a slight, choppy sea caused by the wind against the tide, Dixie at times was almost unmanageable while at top speed. Her straight stem and square forefoot caused her to roll off when on top of a sea, her rudder not holding her on course at all. At such times she would be slowed down until straightened out, and proceed. At the finish of the fourth round Dixie stopped a short distance from S.Y. Taro, and Mr. Thomas, rigged in oilskins, was put aboard, a mechanic strapped a life preserver on him, and taking the helm Dixie continued.

Just before the completion of the fourth round, Dixie passed Simplex III and took the lead, in what now had become nothing more or less than a procession. Continuing around the course Dixie finished the six rounds at 5:22:23, followed 25 minutes later by Simplex III.

It seems a shame that such a valuable cup, presented by so thorough a sportsman as the donor, should be raced for by so few boats and with such miserable results.


Name 1st round 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th Elapsed Time
Dixie 12:53:15 2:36:53 3:17:13 3:57:02 4:40:25 5:22:23 5:12:23
Simplex III 1:06:58 2:04:07 3:01:00 3:57:25 4:54:55 5:47:24 5:37:24
XPDNC 12:51:18 1:32:46 Broke down - did not finish
Veritas 12:57:39 1:44:06 Broke down - did not finish
Dart Did not finish
Hiawatha Did not finish

(Transcribed from Power Boat News, Sep. 30, 1905, pp. 501-503 )

[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page. — LF]