1909 Mississippi Valley Regatta

Annual Regatta of the Mississippi Valley Association

A Telegraphic Report of the Races of the Mississippi Valley Power Boat Association,
Held at Burlington, Iowa, on July 5th and 6th

By R. H. Combs, President of the Association

Notwithstanding a downpour of rain that was almost continuous, the two days’ regatta of the Mississippi Valley Power Boat Association at Burlington, Ia., proved one of the most interesting and successful motorboat events that was ever held in the United States.

There were seven Association class races which furnished lively contests, the most intensely exciting of which was the race of Class D boats, on the first day. In this event there were nine starters. The course was ten miles in length. The race was won by Teaser, owned by J. A. Moritz, of Quincy, Ill., and her time was 23 minutes 57 ¾ seconds; second place was taken by Planet, owned by C. P. Hanley, of Mus- caine, time 25 minutes 10 seconds; Jimmy June, a Muscatine boat, took third place, time 27 minutes 52 seconds.

Class G, a race for boats of 32 feet length and under, over a ten-mile course, was won by Lamb IV, in 27 minutes 42 ½ seconds, with Sabula, of Bellevue, second and Blanche B, of Burlington, third.

Class B, an event for half-cabin cruisers over a course of fifteen miles, with no restrictions as to size or horsepower, was made up of boats which were not eligible for Class A, the full cabin cruiser event. In this race the prizes were awarded 60 per cent on speed and 40 per cent on performance. This race was won by Meteor, of St. Louis, in 1 hour 23 minutes 29 seconds.

Class C, a race for 36-footers and under, over a course of ten miles, was won by Lamb IV. Her time was 22 minutes 40 ¾ seconds. Teaser was second in 23 minutes 22 seconds and Red Top third, time 24 minutes 46 seconds.

After these events the principal and closing race of the first day was started. This was a grand free-for-all for the championship of the Mississippi Valley Power Boat Association, open to all boats of 40 feet over all and under, regardless of power equipment. The course was twenty miles in length. Lamb IV showed that she was not only a very fast boat, but also a remarkably consistent performer, by winning this event in the time of 45 minutes 48 ½ seconds. The interest in this race was intense. One of the boats entered was the Independence II, owned by E. C. Koenig, of St. Louis, a 40-footer equipped with a 200-hp. Jencick motor. Other famous entries were the new Minnie C III, owned by E. Corsepius, and Red Top II, owner W. E. Hughey. These were the only 40-footers entered in the events, and all of them were prevented from starting for various reasons which made it impossible for them to reach Burlington in time.

The Second Day of the Regatta

The first race of the second day of the regatta was the Class A event for full cabin cruisers over a 30-mile course, open to cabin cruisers regardless of size and power, and the prizes were awarded on the basis of 60 per cent for speed and 40 per cent for performance. Interest in the race was marred by the withdrawal of Sparks II, of Alton, Ill., and Katy Did, of St. Louis, whose owners refused to let them start because the judges allowed Comet, of St. Louis, to enter. It was claimed that Comet was not a full cabin cruiser because she had no toilet-room or galley. However, Comet was allowed to run over the course and was awarded the race. C. F. Sparks, owner of Sparks II, and A. Moll of Katy Did, protested the award, but their protests were voted down by the executive committee.

Class F was an event open to boats of twenty feet in length and under, over a ten-mile course. It was won by M. V., owned by R, H, Combs, of St. Louis, time 31 minutes 14 ½ seconds; second place was taken by Judgey, 38 minutes 9 seconds. Dolly was third in 50 minutes 52 ½ seconds.

In the Class E race, for 22-footers, over a ten-mile course, Mosquito, owned by Granger & Myers, of Bellevue, won first place. Her time was 29 minutes 12 ¾ seconds. Comanche took second position, time 43 minutes 36 seconds. Ethel was third, time 45 minutes 10 seconds.

There was a great deal of interest in the one-mile speed trials against time downstream, and again Lamb IV showed her ability by covering the distance in 2 minutes 5 seconds. Red Top’s time was next best; 2 minutes 12 ¼ seconds.

One of the events of the second day was the novelty race, the prize going to the boat making the slowest time over a quarter-mile course. This was won by Doodle Bug, of St. Louis, whose operator managed to hold her down enough to make her time 12 minutes 27 seconds for the quarter-mile.

The Burlington Launch Club’s special race over a course of thirty miles, open to all boats 40 feet over all and under, regardless of power, was won by Lamb IV in 1 hour 3 minutes and 1 second. Red Top took second place, and made the remarkably good time of 1 hour 4 minutes 26 seconds. Sabula was third, time 1 hour 18 minutes 55 seconds.

The final event was a race over a five-mile course for canopy-top boats. This was won by Red Bird, of St. Louis, time 22 minutes 43 seconds; second, Ethel; third, O. G.

If anyone ever doubted the popularity of motorboat racing in the Mississippi Valley, the tremendous crowds that thronged the city of Burlington during the two days’ regatta would speedily put that doubt to flight. In spite of continuous rain, which made things rather disagreeable out of doors, the city was crowded as it had never been before. Out-of-town visitors were forced to sleep on cots in hotel corridors, and the hotels absolutely refused accommodations unless if was agreed that from two to six people should sleep in each room. Thousands of interested spectators stood all day long on the banks of the river, watching the races, protecting themselves from the rain as best they could. More than five hundred visiting motorboats were present, and the scenes about the water front were beyond description. It was an inspiring occasion to the ardent motorboatists.

On Tuesday night, following the close of the races, there was a magnificent water carnival, A procession of several hundred brilliantly illuminated and handsomely decorated motorboats formed in line and paraded before the city. Thousands of Roman candles were fired from the boats as the flotilla moved slowly down the river, and the reflection of these many-colored lights in the water added brilliancy to the spectacle.

The gathering of motorboats at Burlington really established a mark in the history of the sport which it would seem might remain untouched for a good while to come, although, from the history of this Association, it seems that progress is rapid, and next year’s regatta may entirely eclipse the one here described.

On Monday night an Independence Day display of fireworks served to entertain the visitors. The displays were fired from two barges anchored in the river. During the races two of Iowa’s leading bands, stationed in stands erected on the levee, discoursed popular airs.

The entire city was in gala attire. Merchants vied with each other in decorating their places of business with national colors and bunting of all descriptions. Many watched the races from a big grand-stand built on the levee south of Columbia Street.

The officials who handled the races deserve a great deal of credit for the successful outcome of the regatta. The judges were A. L. Lutz, Alex Moir and Major Montgomery Meigs. The timers were H. A. Ambler, G. C. Paule and J. T. Reilly. The starter was Eugene Bristol and the clerks of the course, W. A. Williamson and A. W. Carpenter.

(Transcribed from MotorBoat, July 10, 1909, pp. 38, 39.)

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