1909 Sacramento-Stockton Endurance Race

The Sacramento - Stockton Endurance Race

The greatest motor boat event that has ever taken place on the Sacramento River was the Sacramento to Stockton race in the latter part of October. The occasion of the event was the "Rush of 49" celebration at Stockton in which the scenes of the early days of California were re-enacted.

The speed boat event for the eighty-five mile run was won by the P.N.B., owned by Pankost & Reynolds, of the Washington Boat Club. The winning boat made the run in three hours and thirty-six minutes. The Fighting Bob II, owned by Mitchell & Klune, of Sacramento, made the run in three hours and forty-nine minutes. The Fighting Bob II is conceded to be the fastest boat entered in the race, but she got off the course, going several miles out of the way and lost the race. Doctor Silva’s Azores which also started, ran onto a mud bank ten miles outside of Stockton and did not finish the race.

The Pankost & Reynolds entry also won the semi-speed contest, the Reynolds Flyer covering the distance to Stockton in three hours and thirty-five minutes. The Opal, owned by Hugh Maudlin, of the Sacramento Boat Club finished first in the race for runabouts. The Palachan owned by Klune 7 Mitchell won in the Cruiser class and the Tug W owned by C. Wilson won the first in the race for special runabouts.

The boats left Sacramento shortly after 9 o’clock on Friday morning, October 29th. The P.N.B. was the last to get away. All three of the speed boat entered—the P.N.B., the Azores and the Fighting Bob II—had difficulty of some kind or other before reaching Stockton. Pankost and Reynolds had trouble with their carburetors. They were not long in fixing this difficulty, however, and overtook and passed the Azores before many miles out of Sacramento.

The P.N.B. is a midget speed boat, built and launched in eight days by Reynolds & Pankost, with the intention of entering the speed contest at Sausalito on October 17th, but as the owners could not get the boat in perfect order for this race, she had her first speed contest in the race from Sacramento to Stockton. She is equipped with a Pierce, Nyt & Budd engine, with aluminum base and exhaust weighing only 207 pounds, rates 18-25 HP. Through the entire trip to Stockton, the engine turned up better than 1550 rev. per min. The boat is 22 feet in length, by 4 feet 5 inches beam, and is if the flat bottom type with sharp bilges. She is built of 5/16 inch cedar and oak timbers and weighed less than 200 pounds without engine bed, and with complete outfit in running order will weigh less than 600 pounds.

On the start the Azores got away on time at 9:30, with Fighting Bob II about one minute behind, but the P.N.B., owing to carburetor troubles, did not get over the line until 9:38, thus giving the other boats from 3 to 4 minutes start. Her first 28 miles to Courtland were made in 1 hr. 1½ m. In some of the long straight reaches in the river, the P.N.B. caught sight of the other boats a couple of miles ahead, and after running about half way down Georgiana slough, about 45 miles below Sacramento, she was within a mile of the other boats. At Bouldin Island the other boats were passed. About this time she had trouble with one of her spark plugs missing. The Azores gained on her and the two were running a pretty race when boat boats ran off the course and got stuck in a mud bar. The P.N.B. lost about 12 minutes here, but had no further trouble, arriving at Stockton at 1:06.

The Fighting Bob II got off the course and lost several miles before reaching Stockton. To those never over the course, the shortest route to Stockton by water is not an easy one to find. Stockton is reached by the San Joaquin River. The Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers are connected by numerous sloughs. As the general character of the land is the same, it is an easy matter for one not familiar with the route to get into a wrong slough. This is just what the Fighting Bob II did. After being well in the lead, the fast boat reached the San Joaquin River and instead of turning up the stream, continued in the wrong direction. After going about five miles, the mistake was discovered. Workmen on a dredger who ere appealed to gave the proper directions and the boat turned around and completed its fast run to Stockton. She arrived at its destination at 1:19 o’clock, only to learn that the P.N.B. which kept plugging away on the right course, had taken hr to the goal, arriving at 1:06. The Fighting Bob II is a 10-meter boat. Her beam is 4 feet 3 in. modeled after design of General II. She is, however, a much prettier boat being built of mahogany and imported Spanish cedar finished in natural colors. Her power is a 4 cylinder Smalley 5½ bore by 5½ stroke, the same power as contained in the Wolff II except that the Bob has two less cylinders.

As stated before, Azores ran into a mud flat ten miles outside of Stockton and was stuck fast. She did not finish the race.

In the semi-speed class Reynolds Flyer equipped with a Ferro engine, and owned by Pankost & Reynolds, finished first, winning the Chronicle Cup offered by the Stockton Boat Club. Reynolds Flyer covered the 85 mile course in 3 hrs. 35 min. (a speed of 21 miles per hour) finishing 28½ minutes ahead of her competitor Pirate II and coming in ahead of all boats entered.

The Pirate II, owned by Herman Koch, of the Washington Boat Club, made a good showing in the semi-speed class and covered the distance in four hours and 23 minutes.

A summary for the elapsed time for the 85 mile run and order of finish is as follows:

Reynolds Flyer (Pankost & Reynolds-Ferro Engine) 5:55; Pirate II (Herman Koch) 4:23½; P.N.B. (Pankost & Reynolds) started on a 1:30 handicap, 3:36; Fighting Bob II (Mitchell & Klune) started with 1:30 handicap, 3:49½; the Azores did not finish. The cruiser Palachan finished in 7 hours and 31 minutes.

Most of the Sacramento boats remained in Stockton for several days and participated in the water sports which were a feature of the program of the big celebration.

The regatta pulled off at Stockton did not prove very successful, due to the lack of interest on the part of some of the Stockton boat owners. J. E. Clifford’s Mable E, was laid up with a broken cylinder and therefore had a good excuse. The others, however, appear to have been afflicted with "cold carburetors." The Sacramento and Washington Boat Clubs’ boats made a splendid showing, much to the gratification of Chairman Dixon, of the Stockton committee, but the boatmen at Stockton lack organization and did not turn out.

(Transcribed from Pacific Motor Boat, January 1910, pp. 21-22.)

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