1909 San Diego Yacht Club Picnic and Power Boat Race

Midwinter Races at San Diego

By Penciler

The San Diego Yacht Club Picnic and Power Boat Race on December 12th was an event long to be remembered by many as a day of good sport and keen enjoyment. The sun was bright and warm, with a light breeze on a smooth bay the conditions were ideal for the sport.

At 9 a.m. on this morning in particular the clubhouse was alive with pretty girls and their friends, who felt as good as the girls looked. The waters around the club were crowded with pretty boats, some under power, some stately windjammers, but all were pretty just the same.

There were seven entries for the race, which, by the way, was to be across the bay to the San Diego Yacht Club’s clubhouse at La Playa, which is a sort of a country home of the club. At the present time it is too far from town and the street cars to be a great deal used, but it makes a fine place for a picnic, and the house and wharf are ideal for the duck hunting or fishing power boat man who wants to spend the night close to the scene of operations on the following morning.

But as I am off my course, I’ll try to get down to business. The distance was four miles, and the boats were started from the clubhouse float, but their time was not taken until they passed the yawl Pauline, moored out some 300 yards from shore. Here their time actually began for the race.

The reason for this arrangement was because it was slow work threading out through the crowded anchorage. Silver Heels, owned by Mr. M. Rubin, was the first to start, followed by Cooko, Vagabond, Glide Away, Gray Witch, Red Canoe and Addie, the last three starting together. The excitement was keen for the men in the race and at the finish there were only 4 minutes and 14 seconds between the first and last boat. Red Canoe finished first at 11:02:36, Addie was second at 11:03:44, Gray Witch was third at 11:06:15, and Silver Heels fourth at 11:06:52.

Red Canoe and Gray Witch were both equipped with new engines and were ineligible for the prize for this race, as there had never been a tryout for them under their new power. Addie was disqualified for exceeding by three per cent her previous speed. So little Silver Heels was declared the winner of the prize.

While waiting for lunch to be served a program of sports was run off for the amusement of the assembled guests, which had become quite a large crowd. The big club launch Bo’sin brought over a large cargo of the fair friends of the racing owners and could not race with a big passenger list aboard. After a hearty lunch, served by S. F. Holcombe of the entertainment committee, the crowd spread out on the beach for a pleasant rest. The windjammer fleet were well represented at the affair and were of considerable assistance in handling the race.

The Sunday before Christmas a race for a turkey as a prize was run off as a novelty, and seven boats again were in the bunch of starters. The course this time was from the judge’s boat, anchored off the Pacific Steamship Co.’s wharf, to and around beacon No. 9 and return.

The race was called for 9:45, but no one appeared until after 10 o’clock, which gave the judges a chance to say uncomplimentary things regarding power boat men in general, and when the racers were ready to start, the judges’ boat got away from her anchor and went adrift, thanks to the clumsiness of the man that dropped the hook. Then the various launch skippers had their chance to make remarks that were well deserved, and accordingly well received.

Finally the boats got away, R. H. Baker’s Polly Bob going over the line first, Gilmore second, Crane third, Gray Witch fourth, Vagabond fifth, Addie sixth, and Red Canoe last. The course was three miles to a leg and before long the entire fleet was out of sight in the distance.

Addie was in fine shape and made the course without a hitch or break and brought home every boat in the lead, finally crossing the finish line at 10:54:58, just two seconds ahead of the little Red Canoe. The rest came in in ones and twos, but Addie got the turkey, which she had certainly earned.

(Transcribed from Pacific Motor Boat, February, 1910, pp. 19-20)

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