1907 Thousand Island Races

Motor Boat Races at Thousand Islands

by Lloyd E. Brown

As usual, the upper St. Lawrence River was the scene during July and August of many interesting motor boat contests under the auspices of the numerous yacht clubs of the Thousand Islands region. One of the earliest events was the 21-mile race held on July 20 at the Thousand Islands Yacht Club, in which the entries were the Pirate, owned by C. N. Peacock of Pittsburgh; the Simplex, formerly owned by W. C. Whitehead of New York, now the property of commodore F. G. Bourne of New York; the P.D.Q., owner, Miss Clover Boldt, daughter of George G. Boldt, proprietor of the Waldorf-Astoria, New York; the Vingt-trois, owned by J. P. Gillespie of Pittsburgh; the 3B, owner, A. B. Tyler of New York; Damphino, owner, Grant Peacock, Pittsburgh; Governor and Tia Juana, owner John C. Boldt, New York; Pirate Jr., owner, Roland Peacock, Pittsburgh; and Siroc, W. B. Hayden, New York.

In a torrential rain the speedy Vingt-trois won the cup, defeating the famous Pirate, former St. Lawrence champion and winner in 1906 of the $1,000 silver cup of the American Motor Boat association at the races held at Frontenac. Pirate, however, made a new record for fast time on this course, coming in 14 minutes 11 seconds ahead of Vingt-trois. The Simplex led the field on the first leg of the course, but was caught by Pirate, which craft finished only 18 seconds ahead of her antagonist, in one of the most exciting finishes ever seen in these waters. The other boats were outclassed and fought it out among themselves under American Power Boat rules, 3B winning second place and Tia Juana third.

The next event here was a "good construction" race held by the Thousand Islands Yacht Club to try out the new handicapping system proposed by W. B. Hayden. In this scheme the rating is passed upon 700 feet of piston speed, being the economical speed of the gasoline engine when under a load. All competing boats were figured on half piston speed for horsepower and one-half second per mile per horsepower was allowed or charged as demanded by individual cases. The hulls were rated on the ratio of beam to length and the unit of ratio charged and allowed by two seconds per mile. All competing boats were required to give the following measurements: Water line length, maximum water line beam, diameter of cylinders, number of cylinders, two cycle, four cycle. Two cylinders of the four-cycle type were figured 25 per cent more than a single cylinder two-cycle on account of their advantages in cooling, passing of timer, contacts and compression.

The new method of handicapping had its fair trial, but was not considered a success by local marine motor people. The race was won by the Simplex, which covered the course of 20 miles in 48 minutes 40 seconds. Pirate, being dissatisfied with the handicaps, refused to enter. Got-a-Go, Mr. Hayden's craft, came in second, seven minutes behind Simplex. The latter boat is credited with a speed of 32 miles an hour in some stretches of the Whiskey Island course at Alexandria Bay. The contest was watched by scores of steam yachts, and private craft of every description. The other entries were the P.D.Q., Kotick, owned by J. B. Wiser of Prescott, Ont., Pirate Jr. and 3B.

The first really important regatta of the 1907 season at Thousand Islands was run off at Frontenac on July 26-27, consisting of a 14-mile handicap and free-for-all, and a 21-mile free-for-all. On the first day the rough seas and a 30 mile-an-hour gale from Lake Ontario necessitated the postponing of the handicap event until the following day, and only two boats entered the 14-mile free-for-all, the Damphino and Pirate Jr. The water dashed over each boat and threatened to swamp them, and conditions on the second day of the races were not much improved. Life preservers were worn by crew members as protection in case of upsetting. The event was won by the Damphino, owned by Grant Peacock, in 1:08:37 actual time. Pirate Jr. threw off her fly-wheel on the second lap and was towed to port by the yacht Jean. Damphino is a 30-foot speed launch built by Frye at Clayton in 1906. She is equipped with 34 horsepower Brennan engines. Pirate Jr. was built by Fitz Hunt at Alexandria Bay last spring and measured 34 feet 2 inches, with a 3 foot 6 inch beam. Her engine is an Aster of 26 horsepower.

On July 24 the 14-mile handicap was won by Damphino with Pirate Jr. second, both boats being awarded silver cups. Vingt-trois and Delawanna were the other entries, the latter boat being obliged to withdraw on account of the rough water. The winner's elapsed time was 47 minutes 13 seconds, and Pirate Jr.'s time was 43 minutes 39 seconds. The final event, three times around the Frontenac triangular course, went to the Simplex in 47:42 actual time, followed by Pirate only eight seconds in her wake. This latter race was one of the prettiest ever witnessed in this locality, and was a fight to the finish between the old time St. Lawrence champion and the new seeker after laurels. Simplex is a new boat built last spring by the Simple Auto Co., at Astoria, L.I. She is 39 feet 6 inches long by 4 feet 9 inches beam, and has Simplex engines of 75 horsepower. Before she was sold to Commodore Bourne this boat was owned by Herbert Broesel and W. C. Whitehead of New York. Delawanna is the property of Walter Irwin of New York, son of May Irwin, the famous actress. She is 31 feet 10 inches long by 4 feet 2 inches breadth and had a 15 horsepower Fairbanks engine. Delawanna was built at Clayton last winter by George Miller.

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On July 31 and August 1, at Alexandria Bay, under the auspices of the St. Lawrence River Y.C., a series of motor boat races were held during the recent water carnival and town celebration. Siroc won the second leg of the point race, and Pirate Jr. won from the Vingt-trois and Damphino in the free-for-all event. The Clayton Yacht Club held minor races on Aug. 5 and 6, which were won by the So-So, owner Ernest Serrell of Utica; What Next second. The Vingt-trois broke down on the course and withdrew.

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On August 10 a race was held by the Frontenac Yacht Club for the trophy put up by Commodore Charles G. Emery of New York. The event was a handicap race three times around the course, or a distance of 21 miles, for boats of not less than 30 feet waterline. The cup, valued at $500, is to become the property of the person winning it three times. Last year was the first season of the Commodore's Race, and the cup was won by Jewel, owned by Mrs. E. S. Burke of Cleveland O. On the evening of August 10 a brilliant display of fireworks, accompanied by an illuminated yacht parade, took place at Hotel Frontenac.

The entries for the race were the Pirate, Vingt-trois, Delawanna, Pirate Jr. and Stranger, owned by Commodore F. G. Bourne of the New York Yacht Club. The latter boat was formerly the Simplex XI and was sold early in August to Mr. Bourne.

The race was won by Stranger with time to spare, with Vingt-trois second, and Pirate in last. Delawanna broke her steering gear on the start and came off the course, while Pirate Jr. failed to enter on time, and was disqualified. The winner's time for the course was 47 minutes 14 seconds actual running speed. Vingt-trois lost a trifle on the middle lap, but came in strong at the finish, covering the distance in 64 minutes 1 second. Pirate made the second best time on the course, negotiating the 21 miles in 49 minutes 50 seconds. All of these boats, with the exception of Pirate Jr., were entered in the Gold Cup races at Chippewa Bay.

(Transcribed from Boating, Sep. 1907, pp. 46-47. )

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