1908 Detroit Long Distance Races

Long-Distance Races of the Detroit Motor Boat Club

A yachting organization only a year and a half old, and with an enrolled membership of over four hundred, and its full quota of one hundred life members taken up, may well pride itself without undue conceit on being a very healthy, lusty infant; such is the state of the Detroit Motor Boat Club, one of the livest organizations of its class in the country.

The season of 1908 has been a succession of triumphs for the club, and the progress of this success has been marked by its regattas. That of July 4th was conceded to be one of the greatest on the Lakes, and the club held, on August 22d, a long-distance race that will go down in the annals of power-boat regattas as being an event extraordinary.

On account of its splendid water facilities, Detroit has probably more gasolene-driven boats than any other city on the Lakes, and the entry list of these long-distance races were just as crowded as those of the 4th of July regatta. Nearly fifty craft, large and small, were entered and a full thirty-seven of these started in the races.

The boats were divided up into four classes: Class A, for boats 40 feet or more long over all; Class B, for boats 32 feet long and under 40 feet long over all; Class C, for boats 25 feet long and under 32 feet long over all; Class R, for open boats of any type, capable of making 15 miles or more per hour, and classed as speed boats.

The course for Class A measured a distance of 95 miles and was up to St. Clair, Mich., and return. The course for Classes B and C was 60 miles long, and was up to Grande Pointe and return. This course took the boats out of the Detroit River, across lake St. Clair, and up the St. Clair River, and return. It was originally intended to send the speed boats over the long course up to St. Clair, Mich., and return, but this was abandoned, owing to the fact that most of the entries in this class were not seaworthy craft, but light racing machines, and it would jeopardize both life and boat to subject them to the buffets of rough weather on Lake St. Clair. The wisdom of this course was confirmed by the fact that the larger boats met with a rather stiff sea on the lake--weather conditions that, if they did not prove actually dangerous, would have been practically prohibited for fast time. Hence the Regatta Committee of the club decided to send the speed boats eleven times around Belle Isle, a distance of 99 miles. The start and finish for all classes was a stake-boat opposite the clubhouse dock.

All boats were handicapped on previous performance, except those who had no record with the club, which were handicapped according to the Detroit Motor Boat Club racing rules for 1908. Each boat was required to carry a crew of two or more men, was prohibited from laying off or taking on any of them between the start and finish of the race, and was required to register the name and number of the boat upon arrival at the up-river turning point.

In Class A Medawin was easily the first boat in completing the 96-mile course in 7h. 29m. 35s., but on handicap she failed to get better than third place, Grace being declared the winner. Clymene and International did not finish the race within the time limit, the first boat being unfortunate enough to finish just 12 seconds after the limit.

Class B was won by Roween V, without any special interest attached to the race.

Class C was won by Old Sport. This victory was very popular among the members, because the owner of the boat has been a consistent worker for the success of all the regattas, and this is the first major success that has crowned his efforts.

The interest of the regatta was centered in Class R, in which fourteen boats were entered; the favorite being Scripps, formerly General, of Bay City, which craft performed so well at the Palm Beach race last year. Despite the fact that Scripps was the last boat to get in position, she was the first over the line, for a splendid start. At the stake-boat at the first turn she was leading all her competitors by a wide margin and increasing her lead with every foot traveled.

The performance of this boat was one of the most marvelous long-distance speed feats ever accomplished on fresh water, and it was ascertained after thorough research that Scripps established a new American record for this distance in competition. This boat made the official distance of 99 miles (really over 100, all things considered) in 3h. 41m. 57s., an average speed of 27.36 statute miles per hour. The nearest approach to this record was made by Den a few years ago in the long-distance run from New York to Poughkeepsie and return. On the tenth lap Scripps obtained a speed of nearly 29 miles per hour. The power plant of this craft is a Scripps Great Six, six cylinders, 5 1/2 by 6 inches, and rated 50-60 h.p.

Even with this splendid performance Scripps was not able to get but third place on handicap. Gorning being first and Geisha second.

After the races a dinner was held at the new club house, for the members of all the crews of the competing boats, and the prizes awarded by Commodore Kotcher. Visitors were outspoken in saying that the club house was probably the handsomest one on the Lakes, devoted exclusively to power boating, and the Detroit Motor Boat Club has reason to be proud of its new home.

Detroit Motor Boat Club Long-Distance Races, Aug. 22, 1908
Class R. 99 Miles Start at 10:30 A.M.
Boat Finish El. Time Allow. Cor. Time
Gorning 2:50:10 4:20:10 1:31:46 2:48:24
Geisha 3:21:52 4:31:52 1:48:52 3:03:00
Scripps 2:11:57 3:41:57 Scratch 3:41:57
Trespass 4:08:50 5:38:50 1:37:31 4:01:19
Key West 3:37:58 5:07:58 1:02:45 4:05:13
Thelma 2:47:43 4:17:43 1:07:08 3:10:35
Silver Fizz 2:55:59 4:25:59 16:43 4:09:16
Red Raven 3:53:11 5:23:11 1:11:47 4:11:24
Red Jacket 3:31:52 5:01:52 40:51 4:21:04
Rainmaker 3:21:55 4:51:55 13:46 4:38:09
Flying Dragon Did not finish
Zip Did not finish
Lemon Did not finish
Stuart Withdrawn
Won by Gorning, Geisha second
Class A 96 Miles Start at 9:00 A.M.
Grace 6:19:07 9:19:07 2:46:26 6:32:41
Althea 6:31:32 9:51:32 3:09:59 6:41:33
Medawin 4:29:35 7:29:35 Scratch 7:29:35
Clymene Did not finish
International Did not finish
Won by Grace, Althea second
Class B 60 Miles Start at 9:10 A.M.
Roween V 3:27:46 6:17:46 1:21:43 4:56:03
Queen Bess 4:04:37 6:54:37 1:52:14 5:02:23
Laneta 4:21:08 7:11:08 1:51:27 5:19:41
Grace A. V 2:31:54 5:21:54 Scratch 5:21;54
D & S Started with Class A
Helen W Did not finish
Won by Roween V, Queen Bess second
Class C 60 Miles Start at 9:20 A.M.
Old Sport 5:26:36 8:06:36 3:36:49 4:09:47
Melanie 2:01:18 4:41:18 Scratch 4:41:18
Louise 3:14:25 5:54:25 1:08:00 4:46:25
Berkshire 4:54:23 7:34:23 2:28:00 5:06:23
We're Here 4:14:19 6:54:19 1:47:28 5:06:31
Fay & Bowen 5:54:33 8:34:33 3:25:16 5:09:17
Fish 3:18:22 5:58:22 32:54 5:25:28
H. B. 5:35:30 8:15:36 2:21:14 5:34:22
Lilla M, Puritan, Alpha and La Boheme II did not finish
Won by Old Sport. Melanie second


(Transcribed from The Rudder, September, 1908, pp. 209-210)

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