1909 Palm Beach Mid-Winter Carnival

The Palm Beach Races

by William H. Harrison

PALM BEACH, March 19.--The Trent-Sept, owned by George Gingras of the Eau Gallie Yacht Club, and the Buffalo Courier, entered by W. J. Conners of the Buffalo Motor Boat Club, carried off the chief honors of the Fifth Annual Motorboat carnival and Races on Lake Worth, this week.

While some of the fast boats of former years were absent in this year's regatta, there were several new fast ones entered that furnished lots of excitement for the big crowd of onlookers which lined both sides of the shore on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the four days of the tournament. One of the features of the regatta was the little grumbling heard on the part of the contestants, and the only one who found serious objection was Mr. Conners, who believes that his craft was compelled to give the other boats too large handicaps. He went so far on the second day of the meeting as to threaten that he would withdraw the Buffalo Courier from the races, but he changed his mind later. On the whole, the regatta was extremely successful in every way, and much credit is due to the Palm Beach Power Boat Association, under whose auspices and management it was held. The handicapping was as fair as could be expected, and each day's racing was marked with incidents to keep the spectators excited. There were many close finishes to delight the crowd.

No less than five first prizes were won by Mr. Gingras's Florida boat, Trent-Sept. These were the Blue Ribbon challenge cup, the Greenleaf & Crosby prize. the White Rock cup. the Black and White cup, and the Poland Spring cup. The Buffalo Courier won two. The Frank Tilford Cup and the Palm Beach trophy for the 90-mile race, which was held on the last day of the tournament, were captured by the Buffalo Courier in great style.

The conditions under which the races were held were that the course have parallel sides, circular ends, and be 4½ nautical miles in length. The handicaps or time allowance was figured for Class A in accordance with ratings under the A.P.B.A. measurement rule; for Classes B, C, BC, D, E, and DE, the endurance run and consolation race in accordance with actual speed performance. The speed record trials (average of six trials) were over a mile course. The trophies for this and the speed contest for Florida boats were not to be awarded unless the record making boats completed 75 per cent of the remaining general races of the regatta for which they would be eligible, or were excused from the reminder for good cause.

Reginald Vanderbilt, of the New York Yacht Club, was a new member of the Regatta Committee this year, and was one of the hardest workers. Among the spectators on the many pleasure boats on the lake was Richard Croker, the ex-Tammany chieftain of New York, who seemed to enjoy the contest very much.

The weather was fine for all four days of the tournament. On the first two days there was a strong wind and the water was somewhat rough. The boats entered and their handicaps follow:

Boat Owner Yacht Club or Port Rating
Buffalo Courier Courier W. J. Conners Buffalo M. B. Club 110.70
Trente-Sept George Gingras Eau Gallie Y. C. 99.46
Bruiser   "   " -------
Possum Lieut. H. L. Willoughby New York Y. C. 74.63
Dennison III Christopher Gallagher Cape May Y. C. 74.43
Kitty Sparks II Charles Furthman New York 71.79
Nebo G. M. Marshall New Smyrna 69.75
Carita James K. Clarke Palm Beach 68.86
Flying Fish Lieut. H. L. Willoughby Sewell's point 64.63
Messenger Capt. Geo. E. Andrews Gilbert Bar 63.41
Winifred Louis S. Clark Biscayne Bay Y. C. 55.11


The regatta opened on Tuesday with speed trials. The three boats entered in these were Buffalo Courier, Trente-Sept and Bruiser. Each boat received three trials over a mile course. In these the Buffalo Courier made an average of 26.006 statute miles an hour. The Trente-Sept was next, with 23.696, and the Bruiser third, with 22.913. The prize offered in the contest was the Palm Beach Challenge Cup, which has to be won twice by the same owner before becoming his property. This event took up the entire morning.

In the afternoon the Trente-Sept had matters much her own way in winning the nine-mile speed contest for Florida-designed and constructed boats for the Blue Ribbon cup, covering the distance in 27 m. 13 s. The Possum was the only other entry in this event.

All eleven boats entered in the tournament started in the 9-mile race for Class A boats under the A.P.B.A. Handicap rules for the Benjamin Douglas cup, which was the only other contest of the day. The Kitty Sparks II managed the beat Trente-Sept over the tape by the small margin of 32 seconds, with Buffalo Courier third, 1 m. 19 s. behind Trente-Sept. The results of the first day's races follow:

Speed Record Trials
  Admiralty average Nautical Statute
Buffalo Courier 2:40½ 2:39 2:40    
2:39 2:39½ 2:38 22.58 26.001
Trente-Sept 2:54 2:53½ 2:55    
2:55 2:56 2:58 20.578 23.696
Bruiser 3:02 3:00½ 3:01    
2:59½ 3:03 3:05½ 19.808 22.809


9 Miles Speed Contest
Florida Designed and Constructed Boats.
First Prize, Blue Ribbon Challenge Cup; Second Prize, Ruinart Cup
Boat Time
Trente-Sept 27:13
Dennison III 40:39
Possum 50:30


Class A, All Boats, A.P.B.A. Handicap
Nine Miles--for Benjamin Douglas Cup
Boat Start Finish Time
Kitty Sparks II 3:39:29 4:13:33 34:04
Trente-Sept 3:46:36 4:14:05 27:29
Buffalo Courier 3:50:30 4:15:24 24:54
Bruiser 3:48:12 4:18:26 30:14
Flying Fish 3:36:00 4:18:27 42:27
Dennison III 3:40:36 4:21:15 40:39
Nebo 3:38:34 4:22:32 43:58
Messenger 3:35:20 4:23:06 47:46
Carita 3:38:09 4:32:08 53:59
Possum* 3:40:40 4:35:49 55:09
Winifred 3:30:00 4:37:44½ 1:07:44½
*Late in starting


The Carita and the Winifred were the only two boats entered in the 4½-mile race for the Meridian Britannia cup for boats under 12 miles

speed. Both boats exceeded their handicap allowance, the Winifred by 7½ seconds, which gave the victory to the Carita. The Trente-Sept won both the other contests of the morning, owing to the Nebo in one being disqualified for crossing the line ahead of time, and in the other by the Bruiser being penalized for exceeding her handicap allowance. Both of these races furnished lots of excitement. The first was in Class B for the C. Perceval cup for boats under 32 feet l.w.l. for 4½ miles. The Nebo went over the finished line 34 seconds ahead of the Trente-Sept, with the F/Ying Fish following closely, third. In the Class BC contest, for boats of all lengths for the same distance, the Trente-Sept won the Greenleaf & Crosby prize, due to the Bruiser being penalized 322 seconds for exceeding her handicap. The Buffalo Courier was in the ruck of the contest.

Only one race was on the programme in the afternoon, which, however, seemed to attract the greater interest of the crowd. The Buffalo Courier went over the line 54 seconds ahead of Bruiser, whom she gave a handicap of 5 minutes and 8 seconds, but when the official figures were posted later in the evening, it showed that the Buffalo boat had exceeded her handicap by just 54 seconds, which put the boats a tie for first honors. and the race between the boats, to settle the tie, was set for the following afternoon. The results of the second day's races follow:

4½ Miles, Boats Under 12 Miles Speed
For Frank Tilford Cup
Winifred 10:30:00 11:01:39 31:39
Carita 10:35:50 11:02:03 20:13
4½ Miles, Class D, Boats Under 17 Miles Speed
For Black and White Cup
Nebo 11:02:19 11:23:27 21:08
Flving Fish 11:03:16 11:23:44 20:28
Possum 11:03:12 11:23:51 20:39
Dennison III 11:03:50 11:23:18 19:28
Messenger 11:00:00 11:24:34 24:34
Kitty Sparks II 11:06:35 11:24:38 18:03
4½ Miles, Class D-E Boats, Over 12 Miles Speed
For Commodore Harrison B. Moore's Cup
Trente-Sept 11:50:35 12:17:35 27:00
Dennison III 11:37:37 12:17:58 40:21
Messenger 11:30:00 12:18:22 48:22
Fhving Fish 11:36:29 12:18:31 42:02
Nebo 11:34:38 12:18:46 44:08
Bruiser 11:48:23 12:16:16 27:53
Possum 11:36:21 12:21:28 45:07
9 Miles, Class B-C. Boats of All Lengths
For White Rock Cup
Buffalo Courier 3:23:00 3:46:22 23:22
Bruiser 3:18:08 3:47:16 29:08
Flying Fish 3:06:06 3:47:25 41:19
Trente-Sept 3:20:38 3:48:04 27:26
Kitty Sparks II 3:13:10 3:48:43 35:33
Messenger 3:00:00 3:48:59 48:59


With five contests on the card and the run off of the tie, the officials had their hands full on the third day of the tournament. Three of the contests were decided in the morning and three in the afternoon it resulted in another great day for the Trente-Sept, which won three first prizes.

The first of these races was for the Frank Tilford cup at 4½ miles for boats under 12 miles speed. Again Winifred and Carita were left to fight it out for themselves, but this time Winifred won by 1 min. 36 sec. In spite of a penalization of 9 seconds, Nebo won the second race on the card in Class D for boats under 17 miles speed, 4½ miles, for the Black and White cup, beating Flying Fish by 23 seconds over the finishing line, with the four boats in the contest following closely. Then came a 9-mile race for Class DE contest for boats over 12 miles speed for the Harrison B. Moore cup. Bruiser came in first, but exceeded her handicap 3 minutes and 55 seconds, which gave the cup to the Trente-Sept, and although the Dennison exceeded her handicap 1 min. and 37 sec., she managed to retain second place.

The afternoon contests were started with the run off to decide Wednesday's tie between Buffalo Courier and Bruiser. The Buffalo Courier succeeded in beating her opponent by six seconds over the tape. Next followed the 9-mile race in Class E, for boats over 17 miles speed. The Buffalo Courier had her chances ruined by the blowing out of a front cylinder head about 300 yards from the finish, when about to pass the Trente-Sept, allowing the latter to go over the finishing mark just two seconds before her. As it was, the Buffalo boat was penalized six seconds for exceeding her handicap. Then came the 13 ½-mile race in Class DE, the longest so far in the regatta, for the Poland Spring cup, which went to the Possum, with the Messenger three open lengths behind, and the Buffalo Courier third. The third day's results:

4½ Miles, Under 12 Miles Speed


Start Finish Time Cor. Time
Carita** 10:47:17 11:13:26 26:09 11:13:33½
Winifred* 10:40:00 11:11:57 31:57 11:16:04

*Exceeded handicap 4 min. 7 sec.
**Exceeded handicap 7½ sec.

4½ Miles, Class B
Boats Under 32 Feet, L.W.L.
Boat Start Finish Time
Trente-Sept 11:10:13 11:23:40 13:27
Flying Fish 11;03:03 11:23:54 20:51
Messenger 11:00:00 11:23:59112 23:59112
Kitty Sparks II 11:06:35 11:24:41 18:06
Possum 11:03:12 11:25:43 22:41
Dennison III 11:03:50 11:26:04 22:14
Nebo 11:02:04 11:23:16 Dq*
*Crossed line ahead of starting signal and exceeded handicap 2 seconds


4½ Miles, Class B-C
Race For Boats of All Lengths
Trente-Sept 11:40:13 11:53:13 13:00
Bruiser 11:38:40 11:53:24 14:44
Messenger 11:30:00 11:54:03 24:03
Flying Fish 11:33:03 11:54:14 21:11
Buffalo Courier 11:41:31 11:54:37 13:06
Possum 11:33:12 11:57:47 24:35
Kitty Sparks II 11:30:35 11:54:53 18:18
9 Miles, Race to Decide Tie
For White Rock Cup
Buffalo Courier 2:04:08 2:27:53 23:45
Bruiser 2:00:00 2:27:59 27:59
9 Miles, Class E, Over 17 Miles Speed
For the Association Cup
Trente-Sept 2:45:40 3:12:36 27:56
Buffalo Courier 2:49:14 3:12:38 23:30*
Bruiser 2:45:00 3:13:28 28:28
*Corrected 6 seconds to 3:12:44
13½ Miles, Class D-E, Boats Over 12 Miles Speed
For the Poland Spring Cup
Possum 3:39:36 4:39:40 1:00:04
Messenger 3:30:00 4:39:47 1:09:47
Buffalo Courier 4:06:57 4:41:10 34:13
Kitty Sparks II 3:49:45 4:41:26 51:41
Bruiser 3:53:57 4:41:43 47:46
Dennison III 3:43:30 4:42:03 58:33
Trente-Sept 4:00:57 4:42:14 41:47
Nebo 3:38:03 4:46:39 1:08:36
Flying Fish 3:40:09 DNF  


This day, Friday, March 19th, was the last day of the regatta, and ideal weather conditions prevailed. Two events were scheduled. The first of these was an endurance contest for the Beach Club trophy and the Reed & Barton cup, open to all boats. The distance was twenty times around the 4½-knot course. The other and the final event was a consolation race for boats which had not won a prize during the regatta. Seven boats started in the endurance race, and these crossed the line, for the start, according to handicaps, in the following order: Messenger, 9 o'clock; Nebo, 9:43; Flying Fish, 9:57; Possum, 10:07:20, Dennison 111,10:19:20; Kitty Sparks II,11:01:20; Bruiser, 12:09; Trente-Sept, 16:20; Buffalo Courier, 12:57. The conditions of the race were that the actual winner would receive one of the cups, and the other would go to the owner of the boat whose time average for all the laps varied the least. This event was won by Buffalo Courier, while Messenger took second honors. It will be seen that the prizes went to the scratch boat and to the one with the greatest time allowance.

In the consolation race the winner was Flying Fish, owned by Lieutenant Hugh L. Willoughby, with Bruiser, owner George Gingras, in second place. The course was 4½ miles.

It was announced late in the day, that Buffalo Courier was disqualified in the speed trials for not starting in the Class B race on Wednesday, and was further disqualified in the speed record trials for not showing a higher average speed than in general racing, as required by the Regatta Committee. The cup, therefore, has been given to Trente-Sept, owned by George Gingras.

(Transcribed from MotorBoat, Mar. 25, 1909, pp. 33-38.)

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