1906 APBA Gold Cup

The Gold Cup

Chip II Successfully defends the APBA Trophy, but Protests May Alter the Result

Chippewa Bay, on the St. Lawrence River, where this year's races for the Gold Challenge Cup of the American Power Boat Association on that beautiful river. Situated eleven miles below Alexandria Bay, the hub of the district, and off the line of tourist travel, it is almost impossible to reach it, except by boat, and on the morning of the first day's races it seemed that every available craft on the river was drawn to it as by a magnet. A procession of boats of all classes, kinds and descriptions paraded past Alexandria Bay from eleven in the morning till long after the race had started, and grouped around the starting line and the club landing during the races was probably the finest fleet of motorboats ever assembled in the United States. It would be almost impossible to count them or to name all the well-known boats which had arrived for the event. There was a sprinkling of steam yachts and one or two lonely sailing boats, but the vast majority depended upon gasolene for power, and the fleet included more really fast boats than the writer had ever before seen together at one time. The St. Lawrence is the home of the speed boat, and a twenty-mile pace seems to no more to a resident of this district than ten would in some other parts of the country. The river is the King's highway and is used impartially by the millionaire with his big steam yacht or the fisherman with his motor skiff, and here, of all places, the motorboat is supreme. In fact, everything is motorboats. Their presence completely fills the senses. One sees them everywhere, and even a blind man would know of their presence by the noise of the open exhausts and the smell of burnt lubricating oil.

At Chippewa Bay the crowd at the temporary club house is not large, but is representative and enthusiastic, and aside from the competitors and their retinues there are scores of devotees of the motor; the bright dresses of the ladies lending color to a very brilliant scene, while they, too, talk motorboat and pick their favorites. This year there are ten contestants, but by general opinion the race lies between Chip II and Sparrow, the two lowest rated boats. Chip II, which has been such a mystery, and is the result of much burning of midnight oil, is probably the most interesting and radical boat of the lot. Her hull is normal, fine lined and fair, "A slippery proposition," as a bystander remarked, but her motor -- here is the rub.

When the framers of the new APBA rule cut out the factor of stroke they left a big loop hole for the designers, and Leighton, the designer of the motor of Chip II, has taken full advantage of the opportunity and designed a two-cylinder, two-cycle motor with 4-inch bore and 10-inch stroke. Nor is this the only novelty which the motor shows. In the design he has gone back to the principle used by Dugald Clerke in his first motors and, instead of using the base as a compression chamber, has added a double acting pump which draws the mixture from a big Schleber carburetor and discharges it directly into the top of the cylinders through automatic valves. The pump cylinder volume is carefully calculated to give plenty of mixture even at high speeds, and this, together with the long stroke, in reality produces a motor of enormous power, considering its bore. Thus he enabled to secure a very low rating under a rule which considers only the bore of the cylinders and their number, and at the same time the motor is powerful enough to drive the finely designed hull of Chip II at high speed. Of course there is much comment on the part of other competitors on this innovation, and as one remarked, "Leighton has us all stopped." This motor is designed for this race, and the probability of its adoption for commercial purposes is a question that only the future can decide; at any rate, judging from the noise of its exhaust, which is like the roar of a 13-inch gun as compared with the gatling gun reports of the others, it will stand some muffling. One thing is certain, even before these races are run, that the rating rule must be changed if the race is to continue to be an annual feature.

Aside from this especially designed two-cycle motor only two other motor of the two-cycle type are entered, for ot is generally recognized that the type has very little chance of winning under its present rating, and Guess Again, owned by H. N. Denny, of Watertown, and equipped with a three-cylinder, two-cycle Watertown motor, will be the only regularly designed two-cycle motor to run, as Eureka, the other two-cycle entry, broke her crank-shaft on the morning of the first day and was put out of the running. Mr. Denny does not go into the race with any golden visions of victory, for the rating of Guess Again is high -- win or lose. Guess Again is a big wholesome boat of good form and with plenty of freeboard. She is essentially a heavy weather boat and would stand a show of winning proportionately with the strength of the wind and sea. She has been run considerably and will come to the line practically sure of being among the finishers every day. She is powerful enough to stand a 6 or 8-cylinder motor of the same size as that with which she is equipped, but that would put her rating away up in the clouds and lessen her chances of success.

The Godshalk Co., builders of Sparrowstrong>, confirmed two-cycle enthusiasts, have this year fitted her with a Packard automobile four-cycle motor, realizing that this was the only hope of victory. Sparrow, by the way, is an interesting and cleverly designed boat and reflects great credit on her designer, R. B. Clark, who has turned out a very handsome little boat. Sparrow has a big midship section (to reduce her rating), fine ends, a wide flaring bow with considerable flam, sides which tumble home as the stern is approached, and sets lightly upon the water while showing a rare turn of speed. Her auto motor is the same type which has proved so reliable and trustworthy in the car, and no one expects to see a "did not finish" posted after her name, regardless of wind or weather.

Jewel is the biggest of all; she is 40 feet by 7 and is a roomy, strong boat. In fact, she is more of a fast cruiser than a racer, and has a big roomy cockpit forward and the motor placed aft of an amidship bulkhead. She has a 75-h. Trebert which is said to drive her at nearly 20 miles per hour. Still, even with her big amidship section, her rating is high and she can have small chance against the little fellows.

Vingt Trois is a low, clean-cut racer equipped with a 34-h. Trebert and should make good time no matter what her order in the list of finishers. Tornado is a Buffalo boat which is equipped with a Sterling motor and already has a series of victories behind her, which speak well for her performance in this event. Panhard II is almost too well known to require any description here. She was a competitor last year, but through bad management, her performance was not up to the high standard for which her motor is famous. Vingt-et-Un II and Dixie are also old friends; the former brought the cup to the river originally, and the latter is entered more to establish a record for the river than with hopes of victory under the handicap of her enormous rating. Triton also has a novel motor. It has been designed by Alexander T. Brown, her owner. Mr. Brown is a master-hand at machinery, and such concerns as the Brown-Lipe Gear Co., and several others, owe their success to his genius. The novelty of Triton's motor lies in the fact that it is really two motors of 4 cylinders each, driving twin screws, but instead of placing the motors upon separate bases or upon a single base, as was done with the motor of Caflit, the cylinders are cast in "A" form, having a common head and combustion chamber. The angularity of the bore makes the twin screw idea possible. The crank-shafts for the two motors are connected by spur gears at the forward end, so that the travel of the pistons shall be together and the power developed will be delivered equally to each crank-shaft. The motor is of the open base type and the water jackets of the cylinders are made of spun brass fastened to the cylinder castings at top and bottom. There is a single exhaust and inlet valve for each pair of cylinders located in the head and operated by an overhead cam shaft driven by sprocket and chain. Each half of the motor has an independent lubricating system, and one spark plug does duty for each pair of cylinders.

These are the competitors, and they are a fine lot of boats, but with such variations of size and power there is little chance of the racing being close, even under a perfect rule, which the APBA assuredly is not. As last year, the larger boats will have to make impossible speeds to win against the little chaps, and that so many are entered is a tribute to the sportsmanship of the owners who, in most cases are putting in boats not especially designed for this rule.

Any rating rule tends to encourage certain features of design; if these features tend to produce a good boat, they are to be commended, and if one, by careful design, can produce a better boat it is a commendable effort. Still the line between good work on the part of the designer and a violation of the spirit of the rules is a fine one, and in the case of Chip, and also possibly Sparrow, all shades of opinion are voiced. Some think the line has been overstepped and that the canons of sportsmanship have been violated. Others consider that these boats are within the letter of the rule. Opinions of all shades are freely given, some biased by other considerations, and others seemingly unbiased.

Indeed, whatever the results of the race, a storm of discussion will probably break over the heads of the committee which must lead to an alteration of the rule.

The Entries
Boat Owner Yacht Club Rating Engine
Chip II J. Wainwright Chippewa Bay 56.24 2-cyl Leighton
Dixie E. J. Schroeder New York A. C. 99.96 8-cyl Simplex
Eureka J. G. Reid Gananoque 81.01 4-cyl Fairbanks
Guess Again H. N. Denny Crescent 71.4 3-cyl Watertown
Jewel E. S. Burke Thousand Islands 72.62 4-cyl Trebert
Panhard II A. Massenat Manhasset Bay 83.67 4-cyl Panhard
So Long II G. S. Hasbrouck St. Lawrence 98.6 8-cyl Trebert
Sparrow P. J. Swain Riverton 61.23 4-cyl Packard
Tornado R. W. Koerner Buffalo 76.36 4-cyl Sterling
Triton A. T. Brown Syracuse 101.05 8-cyl Brown
Vingt et Un W. S. Kilmer Frontenac 87.03 4-cyl Simplex
Vingt Trois J. P. Gillespie Clayton 74.91 4-cyl Trebert


First Day

By starting the race promptly on time the committee of the Chippewa Yacht Club acted with commendable vigor, but as the starting times of the first and last boat were separated by nearly one hour, the start lacked the animation and excitement of a sailing yacht race, with its jockeying for position and little tricks to secure advantage. each boat remained at the float till shortly before her starting time and then manoeuvered to cross the line at the gun fire. In the main the starts were good, Panhard II, being the only exception. She had an accident just before the gun and did not get away for some time and then only to run a couple of hundred yards and be towed in. Misfortune seems to follow this fast and clean traveling boat every time she comes to fresh water. Apparently something went wrong with the rudder.

As a result of the long time allowance given, Chip II finished her first round before So Long II started, and Dixie made a very pretty and exciting start only a little behind Sparrow. In fact, they went off almost neck and neck, but Dixie quickly took the lead. After the excitement of this start cooled down the sharps began to figure on the times of Chip II and Sparrow, and it was seen that Sparrow was making up her time at a good rate and that the finish of the two should be close. Some of the more sporty put up small sums, and the result furnished the interest of the day. All but Triton finished their first round in good time, and those with glasses scanned the back stretch for sight of Chip II and Sparrow. When they were made out close together, with Chip II leading but Sparrow gaining, the stock of the former went down, while that of the latter soared. Sparrow won by 1 minute and 12 seconds and received a great ovation, but Chip II also received her share, and it would take a good ear to decide which was the more popular. Chip took 48 m. 13 s. for her first round and bettered it by over 3 minutes on her second. Sparrow, on the other hand, only varied 6 seconds in her two rounds, a remarkable performance. Guess Again also varied less than a minute on her two rounds and showed great regularity. So Sparrow had one leg of the cup nailed down, so to speak, but as the cup is decided on a total point basis, it was by no means won as yet and the local talent showed all kinds of money to back Chip II in the remaining races. The second day will probably see some of the contestants drop out, and several expressed a hope for heavier weather than the mill pond smoothness of the first day.

Second Day

The interest in the second day's racing narrowed down to the duel between Chip II and Sparrow, for, from figuring the first day's results and from the improvement which Chip II made in the time for the second round, it seemed probable that she would win the second day's event unless Sparrow also had some reserved speed. That such was the case seemed probable, because after the finish the fact came out that during the greater part of the race one of Sparrow's high tension ignition wires was held in place by her plucky engineer. it seems that shortly after the start the wire terminal, connecting the wire with the plug, broke, and throughout the remainder of the race had to be held in place. This led to her missing at times, and the work of the engineer is to be highly commended because of his perseverance. There was very little chance of any other boat winning except in the case of breakdown to either Chip or Sparrow.

The starts were made at the same time as those of the first day; as before, Chip II finished her first round before So Long II and Dixie started. From the time she made on this round it would seem that Sparrow had little show of winning, and those who were looking on anxiously consulted their watches and watched for Sparrow in her race against time. She crossed the line for her first round too late to win except by some unforeseen accident. Interest in the event died away until the arrival of Dixie and Jewel within five seconds of each other. By this time all the racers were in sight, and all finished within five minutes of Dixie. Chip finished at 3.57.01, and Sparrow at 4.00.47, Chip winning by a greater margin than she was herself defeated by the day before.

All the boats which finished the first day had started again on the second day, and it speaks well for the sportsmanship of these that they continued to start in the face of sure defeat. Still, the time prize offered by Commodore Englis for the boat making the fastest time on the three days was striving for, and was doubtless the reason for so many continuing. Under the system of points by which the possession of the cup is determined giving one point to each boat for entering and one for each boat she defeated, Sparrow and Chip were now even with 16 points each, while Jewel had 13 and Dixie 11.

Chip's victory was very popular, as evinced by the clamor at the finish, but Sparrow received an almost equal ovation. It is said that a protest has been filed against the motor in Chip, based upon the clause in the rules which reads as follows:

"If, from any peculiarity in the build of the yacht, or other cause, the measurer
shall be of the opinion that the rule will not rate the yacht fairly, or that in any
respect it does not comply with the requirements of these rules, he shall report the
circumstances to the race committee, who, with the measurer, after due inquiry, shall
award such certificate of rating as may consider equitable, and the measurement shall be
deemed incomplete until this has been done."

What action the committee will take is as yet unknown. Nearly all the boats improved their times of the first day by slight amounts, and all were run with great regularity, unmarred by breakdowns as in previous years. In fact, the quality of the boats and motors entered was much in advance of that of other years.

Third Day

The interest and excitement of the last day's race fully compensated for the dullness of the second day, and the heavy weather enthusiasts were fully satisfied. About one o'clock a strong wind sprung up from the eastward, accompanied by rain. Indeed, so strong was the wind that it was thought best not to attempt to anchor the committee boat out as on previous days, but to give the starts from the pier opposite the starting line. The bad weather also influenced the size of the attending fleet, and very few boats and only those having cabins or some form of covering braved the elements and came down to witness the last race. Chip had a big spray hood over the forward end of her cockpit, and her start, although down the wind, was a very pretty one, as she jumped from wave to wave, alternately showing half of her length forward and being buried as she jumped into the sea. her start, however, was not as good as in the previous race, and in this respect she did not get off as well as Sparrow, which made a very pretty start. Guess Again was also late in starting, but Jewel went nearly with her gun, and Vingt Trois got away almost on her signal, but soon returned on account of the heavy sea.

Soon after the start, the weather cleared so that it was possible to distinguish objects on the back stretch, and all glasses were turned to watch for Chip, which was fairly made out by a cloud of spray as she came up at full speed. On her first round, Chip took only a few minutes longer than on previous days, showing that the heavy sea did not diminish her speed to any great extent. Sparrow, on the other hand, being not as well provided with covering for her motor, was not pushed to the same extent and took over an hour instead of the 40 odd minutes in which she covered the course on previous days. There was a long wait between the arrival of Sparrow and that of Jewel, which apparently made the best weather of all, due to her great breadth and high freeboard, but along the back stretch she could be seen throwing the spray from end to end. Guess Again should have finished ahead of Jewel or close to her, but did not complete her first round until considerably over her running time. After the race was over, it developed that she had entered with absolutely no protection over her long, open cockpit. Going up the back stretch she got some water into the spark coil, which put her out of business temporarily, until it could be dried out. This piece of carelessness on the part of her engineer was costly in lessening her chances for establishing the regularity of her running, which on the two previous days had been remarkable.

Chip finished the race previous to the first round of Guess Again, and received an enthusiastic reception. After a wait of nearly half an hour, Sparrow also finished, and was well received, and Jewel and Guess Again finished in due time, as is shown by the summaries, the latter making on this round only five minutes slower time than on her best previous performance, showing that the heavy weather had very little effect upon her speed. This race gave Chip 22 points, Sparrow 21, and Jewel 17. As Dixie did not enter on account of the high sea, and as So Long II was compelled to abandon the race for the same reason, the time cup seems to lie between Chip and Sparrow. After the race was finished and the committee had had time to figure out the respective times of the different boats, they awarded the time cup to Sparrow.

In many respects the races were disappointing, and as a protest was formally lodged against the motor of Chip II, by Clarence Godshalk on behalf of Sparrow's owner, previous to the first race, the result is in doubt, and the Gold Cup may not be awarded for weeks, or even months. The committee of the club received the protest after the finish of the last race the motor and hull of Chip were remeasured. The measurer, however, refused to change his rating and after considerable discussion the committee decided they would be unable to award the cup. They drew up a report of the circumstances leading to the protest and forwarded it to the officers of the APBA, stating that pending the decision of the association they thought best to place the cup in their hands, to be awarded upon their decision.

Aside from the dispute in which the race ended it did not prove to be as interesting as was expected, for Chip II and Sparrow so far outclassed the competitors under their handicaps as to take away all the spectacular effect of the racer and to rob it of its interest. The other competitors finished fairly closely--as close as could be expected under the rule, considering their diversity of size and power, but as to sport -- there was none.

The Summary
Each Day - - 30 Statute Miles
  First Day Second Day
start round 1 round 2 time start round 1 round 2 time
Chip II 2.30.00 3.18.13 4.02.52 1.32.52 2.30.00 3.13.28 3.57.01 1.27.01
Sparrow 2.39.26 3.20.30 4.01.40 1.22.14 2.39.26 3.20.09 4.00.47 1.21.21
Jewel 2.56.08 3.40.47 4.25.15 1.29.07 2.56.08 3.40.43 4.25.21 1.29.13
Dixie 3.20.31 3.13.07 4.25.24 1.04.53 3.20.37 3.53.21 4.25.26 1.04.49
Guess Again 2.54.35 3.42.29 4.30.42 1.36.07 2.54.35 3.43.02 4.31.36 1.37.01
Vingt Trois 2.58.51 3.42.23 4.26.28 1.27.37 2.58.51 3.43.25 4.27.45 1.26.54
Tornado 3.00.31 3.44.11 did not finish          
Vingt et Un 3.10.58 3.49.59 4.28.22 1.17.24 3.10.58 3.50.12 4.28.51 1.17.53
So Long II 3.19.15 3.55.49 4.31.51 1.12.36 3.19.14 3.54.30 4.29.54 1.10.40
Triton 3.21.21 disqualified            
Third Day  
  start round 1 round 2 time
Chip II 2.30.00 3.16.17 4.05.40 1.35.40
Sparrow 2.39.26 3.39.58 4.29.00 1.49.34
Guess Again 2.54.35 4.12.43 5.05.43 2.15.08
Jewel 2.56.08 3.51.47 4.43.12 1.46.54
Vingt Trois 2.58.51 did not finish    
So Long II 3.19.14 did not finish    


The Free For All

A part of the program of the Chippewa yacht Club each day was a heat in a free-for-all race, but as the event did not fill, it was declared off until the morning of the last day, when it was proposed to run a match race between Standard, Dixie, So Long II, Pirate and P.D.Q.. The race was supposed to start at 11 o'clock, but at this time only Standard was present and the race was again postponed until Saturday. On Saturday afternoon the boisterous weather of the previous day had calmed down to some extent and Dixie and Standard both appeared for the start, which was made at 2.30. Standard made her first round in 34.30, and Dixie her first in 35.41; Standard showing a gain of 1 m. 11 s. The second round was completed by the Standard at 3.39.30 and by the Dixie at 3.40.06, Standard thus winning by 36 seconds. The time for boat boats was a little slower than that made by Dixie on the first two days of the gold cup races, but as the sea was considerably rougher this would in a measure account for the longer time taken for the 30 miles. Standard was apparently was not pushed at any time during the race and during the second round allowed Dixie to make up some of her loss. Standard's speed was 25.9 miles per hour. She can undoubtedly do much better than this, and as she will be an entrant to the Motorboat carnival on the Hudson, great interest will centre in her performance in that event. This is Dixie's first defeat, except when too heavily handicapped, and throughout the races on the St. Lawrence she ran with great regularity and at record speed.

(Transcribed from The Motor Boat, Sep. 10, 1906, pp. 1-10. )

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