1907 Detroit Country Club Regatta

The Country Club Regatta

Lake St. Claire was the scene of some unusually exciting races this year during the annual open regatta of the Detroit Country Club. This wealthy organization took up yachting substantially in 1903 when its president, Franklin H. Walker, presented a valuable punch bowl to the club to be offered as a competitive trophy for the 21-foot cabin class then about to begin its second year of existence on fresh water.

Since 1903 there has been an annual fall regatta off Grosse Pointe for various classes of which the 21-foot class has been, of course, the most important.


Details of the contestants:

  Type Engine cyc. cyl. bore stroke H.P. L.W.L. Rating
Thelma Open Rex 4" 4" 5" 5" 39.2 28' 3" 81.0
Letter B Open Rex 4" 4" 5" 5" 39.2 27" 0" 76.5
Ecce Open Scripps 4" 4" 4 5/8" 4" 33.6 29' 0" 75.9
Niagara Open Brownell-Trebert 4" 6" 5" 6" 68.3 43' 6" 91.0
Let Me C Open Cross 4" 4" 3½" 4" 19.25 27' 9" 71.0
Gray No. 6 Open Gray 2" 3" 4½" 4" 20.8 19' 8" 61.8
Wilanna Glass Cabin Pungs-Finch  2" 4" 5½" 6" 84 60' 9" 58.2
Shabadagee Glass Cabin Dingfelder 4" 4" 5½" 6' 34.5 40' 3" 54.2
Poinsetta Turtle Deck Rex 4" 4" 5" 5" 39.2 33' 5" 68.0
Majella Hunting Cabin Malcom 4" 2" 4" 6" 15.9 27' 3" 54.2
Carrie B Open Fairbanks Morse 4" 3" 5½" 6" 21.6 35' 8" 52.3
Nemesis Open Packard 4" 4" 4" 5" 16.75 34' 4" 61.5


The motor boat race which concluded the Country Club regatta, has come to be an attractive feature and is the most popular card of the entire meet. This year there were 19 entries in four classes and it is certain there would have been more but for the threatening weather. Possessing no fleet of its own, as only Hunch, owned by Russell A. Alger, may be dais to belong at the Pier, the river below is requisitioned for entries. They began to come at 1 o'clock, and they kept on coming in a sputtering stream for two hours. When the cat-boats started at 2 o'clock, Judge Dyer was driven frantic by the put puts rushing across the course and through his line of vision. He waved, he shouted and he -- well, he almost jumped overboard in his desire to censure one little squatter that ducked in and out like a pestiferous mosquito. Finally he called upon Dr. Warren to disqualify the said offender in the motor boat event; it wasn't necessary, however -- the squall drowned him out.

All about the docks were tinkering and excitement, combined with much figuring by the ever-reliable measurer, Oliver E. Barthell, who was applying the 1907 APBA rules to entering craft on handicap basis of 60 per cent of the time allowance table. He was only assisted by Carlton Wilby, the Detroit designer, and these two handled the intricate problems of measurement with skill and precision.

The warning gun at 4 o'clock started a big noise. Lining up back of the line between a flag buoy and the pier the fleet awaited the starting signal ten minutes later. There were 19 in all, ranging in size from the big cruiser Wilanna, flagship of Com. C. W. Kotcher, of the Detroit Motor Boat Club, to Little Giant, a midget craft that came to grief later in her battle with the elements. When the gun fired they were off in an instant with the big handsome runabout Nagana in the lead. Key West balked and would not leave the pole despite some strong language and a lot of cranking.

A rain squall of goodly proportions broke over the scene soon after the start and chased the racers up the lake to the Grosse Pointe lightship, which marked the halfway turn of the 10-mile course. After they were gone the judges had time to get under cover and figure out the dope.

There were four classes -- speed boats, open launches, and two sizes of cabin launches, rated and classified under the following formula: 18 times the cube root, of the square root of the load water line multiplied by the horsepower and divided by the area of the midship section. The horsepower is calculated my multiplying the area of one piston in square inches by the number of pistons receiving direct explosions and dividing by a constant of 2 for four-cycle engines. In two-cycle engines of less than six inches stroke the formula should be the piston area times the number of pistons receiving direct explosive power times the stroke in feet, all divided by a constant of 1.65, and 0.85 for two-cycle engines having less than six inches stroke of piston.

In all other boats the horsepower shall be taken at two-thirds of that given given for automobile racing boats. In order to make the situation entirely clear it might be explained that an automobile racing boat is one whose rating exceeds ten times the square root of its load water line length.

The lay reader may gain some idea from the above array of data just how complicated motor boat racing has come to be and why the rating rule is not popular except in racing that is well organized and where the officials have ample time to make the necessary deductions.

The race itself was only a procession and no one but the few who knew the handicaps could get any satisfaction out of the finish. Thelma was first to arrive and was accorded a noisy reception for making the fastest time over the course. She ran very evenly and her work coming home against the rain squall and choppy seas was creditable not only to her form of hull but to her Rex motor, which proved so strong and reliable. Letter B -- also a Rex outfit, finished second.

Nagana was third but gave up her place to Ecce on corrected time. The former is a new mahogany boat of handsome type and appearance -- a 45-foot water automobile with 60-horsepower Brownell-Trebert engine and large comfortable cockpit aft of the driver's seat. In every respect she is a very notable edition to the Detroit River fleet. Ecce will be remembered as the Godshalk craft that until recently hailed from Toledo. She is now owned by W. E. Scripps, the engine builder, who has given her new power and increased her speed considerably. Let-Me-C, with a small four-cylinder Cross motor and Gray No. 6, completed the list of finishers in the auto boat class, as all of the others gave up in the storm.

The little Gray craft almost swamped and had to anchor during the worst of the blow, but she pluckily came through under her own power.

Wilanna won as usual in the cabin cruiser class, beating her only competitor Shabadagee, more than ten minutes. On account of the popularity of her commodore-owner she received an enthusiastic ovation.

Poinsetta, a low rakish turtle-deck craft, won the event for hunting launches. Grace A IV, one of the contestants, did not finish but stopped to assist some of the little fellows who were in trouble. She received honorable mention if not a prize.

In the open boat class Nemesis was first home but Carrie B finished within her allowance and scored a well-earned victory for Fairbanks-Morse. It is typical of the absolute uncertainty of the result in these handicap races for small boats that her owner, Mr. Wood immediately left the scene in high dudgeon because he thought they had been defeated on account of the unfairness of the handicapping system. As usual the officials came in for the brunt of his criticism.

When the prizes were distributed, Commodore Walker, of the Country Club, thanked the motor boat men for their attendance and expressed himself as certain that his organization would always give them good racing and more of it every year.

Country Club Regatta -- All Classes Start, 4:10 -- Course 10 Miles
Class A -- Auto Boats 
  Finish Time Cor'd Time
Thelma (A. Robinson) 4:43:32 33:32 31:46
Letter B (Whistler) 4:45:08 35:08 32:26
Ecce (W. E. Scripps) 4:47:29 37:29 34:38
Nagana (Holiday) 4:47:25 37:25 37:25
Let Me C (Cuthbertson) 4:56:23 46:23 42:21
Gray No. 6 (Armstrong) 5:16:57 1:06:57 1:00:1 1
Cornet Dq'd    
Key West, Little Giant, Gray No. 7 - did not finish
Class B -- Cabin Cruisers 
Wilanna (Kotcher) 5:03:35 53:35 53:35
Shabadagee (Robertson) 5:15:15 1:05:15 1:03:36
Class C -- Hunting Launches 
Poinsetta (La Verne) 5:02:35 52:35 52:35
Majella (Former) 5:15:46 1:05:46 1:05:53
Grace A I V (Hertz) Did not finish    
Class D -- Open Boats 
Carrie B (Wood) 5:07:16 57:16 54:24
Nemesis (Van Balcom) 5:05:25 55:25 55:25
We're Here (Boggs) Did not finish    


(Excerpts transcribed from Boating, October 1907, pp. 27-32)

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