1909 Houston Regatta

Third Annual Regatta of the Houston Launch Club

by Owen Brown

Rough water and warnings from the United States Weather Bureau of an approaching storm combined to spread a damper over the water sports off Sylvan Beach on August 26th, 27th and 28th during the third annual regatta of the Houston Launch Club. All morning Thursday, the first day, the wind blew a steady gale, and as it to substantiate the storm report a squall of high velocity struck La Porte in the early afternoon, blowing forty-five or fifty miles an hour. Friday dawned dark, with threatening clouds and choppy water, making it necessary to dispose with most of the events scheduled for that day. However, Saturday brought with its return of sunshine a revival of interest.

Before the Thursday blow the sixty-mile race for cruisers was held. The race consisted of a run from La Porte to No. 3 beacon and return. And was run on corrected time by Edna II, a 55-footer owned by Past Commodore J. S. Bonner.

Hardly had the cruising race finished when the squall struck, and the crowds immediately forsook the fishing and bathing piers.

While the flotilla was at anchor in the protected waters of San Jacinto Bay, above Morgan’s Point, the yachtsmen took occasion to pull off one of the smaller motorboat races and the race for speedboats. The first was won by Hennie, property of W. E. Humphreyville, who wins the Dudley Bros. Cup. The latter, under the altered conditions, was a run to Lynchburg and return in the Houston Ship Channel, and was won by Joe Bailey, entered by Captain C. G. Woods, a 40-footer, equipped with the 6-cylinder Barber. Skiddoo, also a 40-foot boat, did not come up to her old mark, owing to insufficient power in the recently substituted 20-hp. Motor to bring out the best possibilities of the boat, which is modeled along speedy lines. Gee Whiz, a 30x4-footer, turned her wheel on a half submerged log just prior to the contest, and could not compete. At speed Gee Whiz rides with bow high, and on striking the log appeared almost to leave the water, most of her keel being visible above the surface. The boat belongs to J. E. Fisher. An informal race between Gee Whiz and Joe Bailey has been announced.

Hello Bill, owned by Captain Thos. Forbes, of Sherman, was also disabled two or three days before the regatta. At least two speedboats being built around Houston for the regatta, one a hydrocurve type, were incomplete on regatta Day, which probably accounted for the absence of a new one which is being built at Beaumont. Some surprise was exhibited for the reason that Lee Carroll, of the latter place, was not on hand with Whew, of last year’s fame, to defend his cup and 1908 honors.

Sharply contrasted with conditions prevailing the two preceding days, Saturday brought forth ideal weather—a refreshing breeze, lumpy water—not choppy—with light swells. In the morning one other motorboat race was held, that in which craft belonging to club members that had participated in previous races of the regatta were allowed entrance. For a reason, only two boats entered, Inola II and Edna II. Inola II finished first, but as in the Friday ocean race, Edna II came in first on corrected time.

The usual water sports were sandwiched in on the general racing schedule, while an exhibition of the Alamo siege by the Jeff N. Miller Rifles composed the closing feature.

A point was raised regarding the advisability of carrying over the regatta through Sunday, or until all events scheduled could be pulled off, but the general club sentiment was against racing on Sunday. However, the remainder of the program was canceled, and trophies thereof will be offered next year. Although squally weather, storm warnings, and other unfavorable conditions prevented the success that might have been, the Houston Launch Club accepts the situation in a strictly sportsmanlike manner, and will, under no circumstances, allow any possible feelings of discouragement that may have arisen interfere with the high standard of its regattas.

(Excerpts transcribed from MotorBoat, Sep. 25, 1909, p. 50)

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