1909 Washington Motor Boat Club Regatta

Washington Motor Boat Club’s First Regatta

By John H. Miller, Jr.

A cold day but an enthusiastic crowd of no less than two thousand people witnessed the first attempt of the Washington Motor Boat Club at entertaining on the Sacramento River, November 14th. The form of entertainment of the day was a race meet in which there were events for oarsmen as well as for the speedy little gasoline boats.

The day was an important one in the motorboat history of Sacramento for two reasons: First, it settled once and for all the question of supremacy of the Sacramento speed boats, the palm falling to the Fighting Bob II, and secondly, it stamped the members of the Washington Motor Boat Club as royal entertainers and good sportsmen. From every standpoint the meet was a success. The program was promptly carried out by the officials in charge and not a mishap marred an event.

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The big race of the day was the contest for the speed boats. For a long time previous to the race rivalry was keen between Klune & Mitchell, owners of the Fighting Bob II, Pankost & Reynolds, owners of the P.N.B.; and Dr. Manuel Silva, owner of the Azores. Challenges and counter challenges had been issued and defies hurled at each other by the race-loving motorists. The Washington Club speed event brought then all together, and proved that beyond question that Fighting Bob II was the fastest boat.

Before entering the race, all the boats had been thoroughly overhauled, so that there were no excuses to offer when the contest was over. Each boat did its best and the order in which they finished showed their relative speeds.

The race was for a distance of thirteen miles, or three times around a course of four and a half miles. This made it necessary for the boats to make six turns and required great skill on the part of those handling the fast vessels so as not to lose ground in rounding the sharp turns in the course. In this, the current of the river, too, had to be reckoned, so that efficient control of the boats cut some figure in the time in which they went over the course. The race was much more difficult for the boats and more interesting for the spectators than had it been over a straight course. The Fighting Bob II covered the distance in the remarkable time of 26:08 taking into consideration the oblong course. The P.N.B. which finished second finished in 27:20 and the Azores was third in 29:30.

The start of the race wasn’t the best. The Fighting Bob lost a few seconds before getting into position. The Azores and the P.N.B. pulled half a length or so ahead of the Azores and maintained the lead for a short time. Before the first turn was reached, however, the Fighting Bob had picked up its speed, and nosed the P.N.B. out of the lead. At the end of the first lap, the Fighting Bob was 150 yards ahead of the P.N.B. which in turn was about 300 yards ahead of the Azores. Throughout the race, the Fighting Bob continued to increase its lead and won by approximately half a mile. The P.N.B. finished second a mile in front of the Azores. The Pankost and Reynolds boat had some trouble with the engine during the race, but they were not of much consequence and made no difference in the result.

Captain Y. J. Winchester and Joe Valadyka ran the Fighting Bob. S. P. Pankost was at the wheel of the P.N.B. and Dr. Manuel Silva did the piloting in his own boat. All of the boats are local products. Klune & Mitchell built the Fighting Bob II. It is equipped with a Smalley engine. Pankost and Reynolds built their boat. It carries a P.N.B. motor, from which it gets its name. The Azores was built by the Nines Brothers, of Sacramento, and is driven by a Scripps engine.

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One of the prettiest events of the day was the contest for semi-speed boats for a distance of once around the course. The starters were the Pirate II, owned by Herman Koch, Nunes brothers’ Scripps Flyer; O. Eberhardt’s Emilie and R. D. Finnie’s Elizabeth. The boats left the mark nose to nose. The Scripps Flyer soon took the lead, closely followed by the Pirate II. The others were bunched in the rear. At the first turn, Koch forced the Pirate into the lead, and maintained first place until after crossing the finish line. The Scripps Flyer chased him merrily, but was unable to overtake him. The Emilie finished third and the Elizabeth fourth.

Arthur Fisher’s Fawn beat out Clarence Reynold’s Sea Gull by a few lengths in the two and a half mile event for boats whose speed is less than twelve miles an hour. C. C. Morris’ Wanda took first place in the two and a half mile event for boats with a speed of less than ten miles an hour.

A race for slow boats was on the program, the prize being offered to the boat that went a hundred yards in the slowest time. It proves a tiresome event, however, the public preferring to witness the speed events. E. M. Brown’s Stanley Ketchel took the prize in the contest.

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The summary of the motor boat races of the day is as follows:

Appropriate trophies were given to the winners of all event.

The officials of the day to whom great credit is due for the success of the meet were as follows: George Meyers, secretary of the Washington Boat Club, president of the day; E. M. Brown, starter; F. T. Jackson, timer; W. H. Cox and J. B. Longatti, judges.

(Transcribed from Pacific Motor Boat, January 1910, pp. 22-23.)

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