1908 Davenport Regatta

The Carnival Race at Davenport

By H. L. Noth

With a program of three days' duration the Davenport Boat Club, of Davenport, Iowa, held one of the most interesting motorboat regattas that ever took place on the Upper Mississippi River. The affair was conducted under the auspices of the Davenport River Carnival Association, which is a stock company organized for the purpose of exploiting the city. The river carnival project which has been made an annual event, was decided upon by the citizens of Davenport as affording the best means toward the accomplishment of that end. The result has been that the races and aquatic sports held in conjunction with the carnival were a prime factor in its success, and the continuance of a regatta in future years will assure for Davenport subsequent events of more varied and even greater interest than this year. It is expected that next season many of the best speed boats of the country will take part. The program was as follows:

On September 23, which was known as Carnival Day, there three motorboat races: Class A, for boats 26 feet and under, over a five-mile course; Class B, for boats of 20 feet and under, over a course of like distance; Class E, a handicap race for boats 26 feet and under, over a course of five miles. A trial run was made in the morning, before the races, so that the committee would have an opportunity to judge the ability of the boats and to arrange proper handicaps. Trophy cups were offered for the winners of first, second and third place in each of these races.

On Thursday, September 24, which was known as Spanish-American Day, there were three motorboat events, the first, Class G, for boats of 26 feet length and under, over a five-mile course; the second event, Class H, a novelty race over a quarter-mile course, the prizes awarded to the boats making the slowest time; Class I, for boats of 30 feet and under, over a five mile course. Trophy cups were awarded to the first, second and third boats in Class G and in Class I. Three prizes were also offered for the novelty race, the first prize consisting of a pair of brass marine lamps, the second prize Dirigo folding anchor, and the third prize a pair of manila fenders.

The closing day of the regatta, which was the Mississippi River Carnival day, provided motorboat racing for Class K boats, of 30 feet and under, equipped with canopy tops, over a course of two miles. The prizes offered for this event were: first prize, Duplex spark coil; second prize, a brass whistle; third prize, a Wurkeze bilge pump; Class L, an open handicap race over a five-mile course for three trophy cups, and Class N, the final motorboat event. This was a free-for-all over a ten-mile course, open to all boats regardless of dimensions or power. The first prize was the W. J. Buck trophy cup, valued at $125. Trophy cups were also offered as second and third prizes. The prizes awarded under this program aggregated in value over $400, and were donated by the Carnival Association. The races brought out a big list of entries for the various events.

The most interesting race of the entire carnival was that which took place between Red Top and Marcella in Class G, for boats of 36 feet and less. Class N also provided a spectacular contest; this was the free-for-all. Red Top is a speed boat owned by W. E. Hughey, of Bellevue, Iowa, with a reputation as one of the fastest boats on the Upper Mississippi, gained through her performances at La Crosse, Wis., and other Northern cities. Marcella is one of the semi-speed types and is owned by Gosch Brothers, of Davenport. Red Top is built on speed lines and is equipped with a 45-hp. motor, while Marcella, with a hull of six tons capacity, U. S. Register, is equipped with a 60-hp. Termaat & Monahan engine. Owing to the exceedingly low state of the water, which, in fact, was lower than at any time during the past ten years, many boats from the upper and lower river, the owners of which had signified their intention to participate in the regatta, were compelled to withdraw their entries because of the hazardous condition of the river, due to the wing dam, made the trip a venturesome undertaking without the aid of a river pilot.

Following is the official summary showing the winners and times:

Class "A"--26 feet and under--Straightaway 5-mile course
Name Club Owner Time
Red Boy Island City H. W. Bennett 18:55
Merry Widow Davenport Smith & Simpson 23:48
Albatross Davenport G. G. Lauffer 29:03
Class "E"--26 feet and under--Handicap race--5-miles
Scamp Davenport Peterson Bros. 30:39
Chap Island City B. Zimmer 39:33
Albatross Davenport Lauffer 27:36
Class "G"--36 feet and under--5 miles
Red Top Davenport W. H. Hughey 12:57
Marcella Davenport Gosch Bros. 12:59
Red Boy Island City Bennett 13:59
Class "H"--Novelty race--¼-mile straightaway course
Iona Island City T. E. Carson 10:34½
Opitza Moline Wiman 10:16
Louisa Davenport Edw. Luett 9:30
Class "B"--20 feet and under--Straightaway 5-mile course
Name Club Owner Time
Niagara Muscatine Schermer Bros. 17:54
Judgey Davenport Joe Kelso 19:05
Merry Widow Davenport S & S 22:30
Class "I"--30 feet and under--5-miles
Arvilla Davenport B. A. Clayton 17:41
Red Boy Island City H. W. Bennett 17:45
Albatross Davenport Lauffer 29:45
Class "K"--Canopy Top boats--Course 2 miles, 1 mile and return
Opitza Moline W. D. Wiman 8:45½
Clipper Davenport Kelso 8:56½
Ina Davenport N. M. Smith 9:25
Class "N"--Free-for-all--10 miles--5-mile course twice round and return
Red Top Davenport Hughey 26:30
Marcella Davenport Gosch 26:21½
Arvilla Davenport Clayton 36:01


(Transcribed from MotorBoat, Nov. 10, 1908, pp. 22-24.)

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