1909 Sacramento Washington's Birthday Regatta

Opening of the Season at Sacramento

by John H. Miller Jr.

Thousands of Sacramento people gathered along the banks of the Sacramento River on Washington's Birthday to witness the first motor boat races of the season. The regatta was under the auspices of the Sacramento Boat Club and was successful from every point of view. The events were all well contested, and the owners of the boats were satisfied with the results. The weather was all that could be expected in the middle of February. The sun shone brightly all day, and the slight breeze that was blowing was the only thing to remind the motor boat enthusiasts that it was not mid-summer. The temperature during the afternoon ranged from 68 degrees at 1 o'clock to 73 degrees at 3 p.m.

The principal event of the day was the speed exhibition given by the General II, owned by E. Forrest Mitchell and Bernard Klune, of Sacramento. The General II was built by the Smalley Boat Company, and was raced in the East last year. She was purchased about three months ago by Mitchell and Klune and shipped to Sacramento. She arrived just a day before the races, and consequently was not in the best condition when the exhibition was given. it was the first time the Sacramento people had an opportunity to see the fast boat and there was a great interest in its trial trip.

It was expected that Red Raven, purchased by Albert Elkus of the Sacramento Boat Club, would contest with the General II. Both boats, however, arrived from the East in the same car, and Elkus was not able to get his motor assembled in time for the regatta. The Red Raven itself is a fast boat, and an interesting contest is looked for when it and the General II can be brought together. This will probably be April 24, when another regatta is planned. April 24 is the forty-ninth anniversary of the incorporation of Sacramento as a city, and the day is to be celebrated with various kinds of sporting events, the most interesting of which will be the motor boat races.

The races were over a two-mile course. The starting and finishing points were just opposite the houseboat of the Sacramento Boat Club. The boats raced upstream from the boat club about a quarter of a mile, and then they turned downstream for a mile. The home stretch was over a three-quarter of a mile stretch upstream.

The races started promptly at 1:30 o'clock. The first race was for Class A boats, 18 feet and under. There were two starters, Iora, owned by C. T. Noyes, and the Millport, owned by P. C. Anderson. The race was a pretty one. The boats were very nearly of the same speed, and they were close together during the entire two miles. Shortly after they were started they were disturbed by two big steamers that came down the river, but both kept plugging away. The finish of the race was a close. The Millport was leading until the last turn, when she lost a few yards, which enabled the Iora to take the lead, which she kept until the finish. The time was 20:16 1-4.

A special race between the Topaz, owned by Albert Elkus, and the Veryl, owned by Vice-Commodore Dwyer of the Sacramento Boat Club, was one of the most interesting races of the afternoon. Both of these boats were built by the Mullin Boat Company, and they were evenly matched. The Veryl got a poor start and lost the race. The Topaz led by about fifty yards on the first lap, but the Veryl cut this down considerably on the second. The race was a four-mile contest, and the time was 29:53. The Topaz was run by William Meyer, while Commodore Dwyer handled his boat without assistance.

The race for Class B boats (between 20 and 18 feet) was won by the P.D.Q., owned by H. G. May. The Sara, owned by O. L. Brainard, was second, and the Chips, owned by A. E. Chimpson, was third. This was a two-mile event, and the time was 16:30. The P.D.Q. had an easy time of it, taking the lead from the start. The P.D.Q. is a Mullin boat.

The four-mile event for Class D boats (between 22 and 27 feet) was won by Winsum, built and owned by Port Captain Y. J. Winchester of the Sacramento Boat Club. The Winsum ran away from the other boats. The Topaz finished second; the D.T.S., owned by Lewis Smith, was third; the J.E.S., owned by Captain I. G. Shaw of the Sacramento Boat Club, was fourth, and the Eclipse finished last.

After the races were over the General II gave an exhibition four-mile run, making the distance in 12 minutes and 19 seconds. She did not make her full speed, however, as her motor had just been put in her on the morning of the races., and Michell was afraid to send her at full speed. She glided through the water prettily, leaping through the waves like an ocean greyhound and sending the spray flying on both sides for many feet. The trip was watched with interest by thousands who cheered loudly as the vessel cut the water.

E. Forrest Mitchell, one of the owners of the General II, was the builder of the Fighting Bob, the swift vessel which won the championship of California by defeating the Konocti, owned by Prentice Gray of San Francisco. Mitchell and Klune have already received numerous challenges from owners of motor boats around San Francisco who believe they can beat the General II The owners say they are willing to accept all of the challenges. After racing the boat in California this spring the owners intend to take the General II to Seattle this summer to race in the international regatta to be held during the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition.

The rules which governed the Washington's Birthday races were as follows:

The make-ready gun for the races will be fired at 1 o'clock sharp.

The length of the races for Classes A, B and C will be once around the course--a distance of two miles. The length of the races for Classes D and E will be twice around the course, or four miles each.

(Transcribed from Pacific Motor Boat, April 1909, pp.13, 14. )

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