1909 San Diego Summer Regatta

The Series of Three Races at San Diego

by Penciler

Owing to the Lipton Cup races coming in at the wrong time on the program of the San Diego Yacht Club, there was an accumulation of three power boat races to be disposed of in short order. Consequently the three were run off a week apart.

August 22d was the first race selected, and the course laid off was a 2½-mile triangle, twice around, in deep water.

The start was made from off the Custom House wharf, thence to and around a stake boat across the channel near Coronado landing of the ferry, thence to a buoy off the Marine Ways on North Island, and returning to the starting line. As this was the first power boat race for some time, a large number of entries were expected, but only a few were in readiness.

At the starting line the A Class consisted of Cooko, owned by J. M. Pauter; Polly Bob, Freg Baker; Nellie S, Capt. Snider, and Red Canoe, J. W. Fridley, which was scratched in this class.

B Class, which was composed of the larger boats, consisted of Addie, H. B. Parkinson; Glide Away, W. Chadwick; Venetia, Fred Thomas; Hummer, Vice Commodore Benham, and Gray Streak, Commodore Bowles, the last named being a scratch in B class.

The little fellows were sent away first, followed by the big boats in their turn, the handicaps being given at the start, as usual. The weather was ideal and there was the usual crown on the wharves and the yawl Pauline (the judges’ boat) was crowded to her full capacity. A little breeze, light at the start, began to pick up as the race went on and before the race was over the spray was flying. The A class boats dwindled down to Red Canoe and Cooko, the two others not finishing. Little Red Canoe won the prize in this class and Cooko did well to stay in the game at all.

The real excitement was between Addie and Gray Streak. The latter had not been in a race since July 4th and had had several improvements that were calculated to increase her speed. Addie over Gray Streak and had made good time, for when the Streak had an allowance of 4¾ minutes started Addie was well on her way. The Hummer, Venetia and Glide Away seemed to have an impossible lead, but in the second leg of the second round the Gray Streak overhauled the whole bunch, and when just about to take the lead she got a big wave from the wash of Venetia that broke all over her and put her engines out of business. After the lapse of two minutes she managed to start up again, and soon after the last turn was made she took the lead and held it to the finish, where it was close enough to be interesting for the spectators, as there was only five seconds between the pair at the finish. Consequently Gray Streak gets the mug in B class and Red Canoe gets the A class prize.

* * *

The race of August 29th was for a very fine Morris chair that had been donated to the sport by Mr. M. Rubin, a motor boat enthusiast. There was to be only one class for this race, both the large and small craft going in on their respective handicaps. The course was the same one as that of the August 22d race. The entries were Glide Away, Hummer, Cricket, Red Canoe, Addie, Black Cat and Gray Streak.

A big improvement had been made in the handicaps in this event, and little Hummer handled by Vice Commodore Benham and Mrs. Benham, held the lead all the way around the course. Gray Streak had a small mishap just before the start and was not fixed up in time. Black Cat started and had some trouble, so withdrew after the first leg had been negotiated. Before the last leg of the course had been run the breeze had kicked up a nasty little chop in the channel that made all the contestants glad that they were running before it instead of butting into it.

At the finish Hummer was coming in well in the lead with Addie some distance off, but traveling like a race-horse, and going two feet to Hummer’s one. It was soon an open question which would get there first. The crowds ashore got busy, and yelled themselves hoarse, encouraging each one in turn to do a little better. Finally Hummer slid across the line in the lead with Addie’s bow overlapping the first boat’s stern.

The other contestants all in, the judges got busy and figured that owing to Hummer’s starting a few seconds ahead of time, that Addie had thirteen seconds coming to her and consequently won the race from the Hummer by 10 seconds.

The corrected time for the fleet is as follows: Addie, 30 m. 20 s.; Hummer, 30 m. 30 s.; Red Canoe, 32 m. 7 s.; Glide Away, 32 m. 49 s.; Cricket, 33m. 44s.

This was a race of close finishes, all the fleet being over the finish line within 3 ½ minutes. While the time was not anything to brag over, there were no racing machines in the contest, all being ordinary runabouts.

* * *

With the two already mentioned races just disposed of along comes the big race for the valuable mug presented by Mr. H. R. Tibbets and of course there were numerous owners with a longing in their carbureters to have their clutch on the prize. Labor Day, Sept. 6th, was selected as the best date for the event.

There were 12 starters, four of them being new boats. These were as follows: Crane, launched but a few days before the race, being 11 ft. long and equipped with a 5-horse-power Giant engine, and owned by H. R. Crane; the Arrow, Thill & Roberts’ 22-footer, with a 5-horsepower Regal engine; the Grah-Ma-Chee, a sister to Glide Away and Tioga, equipped with a 6-horsepower Leader engine and having 22-ft. length to drive, owned by J. C. Kailley; June Bug was the property of J. N. Keasley and was driven by a 5-horsepower Leader.

The race was a free for all and the course was laid out on nearly the run proposed by the Pacific Motor Boat in the August issue, along the Tent City shore on Glorietta Bay with an oval shaped course 1 1/8 mile around and seven times around to settle the argument, the total being 8 miles. The course was in plain view of the crowds on shore who took a lively interest all through the game and as the racers were always in sight the excitement was intense. The handicap time allowance was to be given at the start, but as this slipped a cog somewhere there was considerable time correcting to be done at the finish.

The Cooko, Arrow and Grah-Ma-Chee were started first, followed by Crane, Hummer, Grayling, Red Canoe, Crab. June Bug. Addie, Black Cat and the scratch boat Gray Streak. The latter boat was picked to win, and was, without question the fastest boat in the fleet. These last three were having a long time to wait and the first boats had been around two or three times before they were started.

In the meantime things were lively among the leaders. Hummer was cutting some queer capers, and while she broke two wires, scraped bottom once, and was plainly giving trouble, as her owner spent the entire race on his knees, holding things together as it were, he had managed to haul up into the lead with a good deal of hard work to hold it. The Black Cat made things lively when she started scratching, and the Gray Streak did fine work until she struck the wake of one of the contestants that broke right over her and flooded her engines., which put her out of business. She revived, however, and did some more streaky stunts, but another wave that was handed her, settled her entirely, for the race.

As this was the last lap for the Hummer, it began to look like her race, but the Black Cat was overhauling her with a soft, cat-like purr that was ominous. At the last turn the cat suddenly quit purring and went to sleep in answer to the prayers of the hardened skipper of the Hummer, and with a derisive snort from her exhaust, Hummer sped onward to the finish, and was received by the enormous crowds with all the cheers and honors due the victor. Black Cat was some seconds later and Addie a few seconds behind her and later the rest of the fleet that stood the strain finally finished.

But after the judges got through whittling down the results, poor Hummer got stung for third place, Black Cat winning the prize, with Addie second. The cup is to be held by the winner for one year, when it will be raced for again. Should the same owner win the cup again, either with the same boat or a new one, the cup will become his permanent property.

Owing to the number of turns that had to be made and the shallow water no great records were broken. It is expected that Glorietta Bay will be dredged out before next year, which will make this course very popular, as there is hardly ever more than a ripple on the water. As all the labor organizations were at Tent City, and took in the race, there is more interest in power boats in San Diego than ever before. The corrected times were: Black Cat, 45 m. 29 s.; Addie, 48 m. 6 s.; Hummer, 48 m. 35 s.; Red Canoe 49 m. 46 s.; Grayling, 49 m. 5 s.; Grah-Ma-Chee, 50 m. 2 s.; Cooko, 54 m. 47 s.

Cricket dropped out on the first lap; Crane dropped out on the fourth lap; June Bug dropped out on the second lap, and Gray Streak dropped out on the fourth lap.

Judging by present indication there will be more boats built by fifty per cent, on the Pacific Coast this year than during last season, and the past year showed wonderful activity in this line. Already our correspondents tell of a large number of boats underway to be launched in the spring and the work is only starting. While there will be as many or more commercial boats built this year than ever before, probably the largest increase will be in boats built for strictly pleasure purposes. Every man who enjoys outdoor life and lives in a town bordering on water is beginning to realize that the motor boat offers larger opportunities for pleasure and recreation than any other form of sport. They are also coming to a realization of the fact that motor boating is not necessarily a rich man’s game and that those of moderate means can have their cruiser without any large outlay of money or any great expense of maintenance. The men of large means, on the other hand, are also getting interested with the result that a large number of very fine sea-going yachts are being constructed.

(Transcribed from Pacific Motor Boat, November 1909, pp. 7-9.)

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