1920 Fisher Allison Trophy

Fisher Trophy

The races held under the auspices of the Detroit Gold Cup Committee from September 11th to 15th included the Gold Cup race; the initial contest for the Fisher Trophy for 35 mile displacement runabouts as well as cruiser and runabout races galore. While interest as usual entered on the Gold Cup race; the Fisher Trophy boats put up what was really the feature of the big regatta. One of the great reasons for the success of the latter race was the fact that the deed of gift, arranged by Carl Fisher, the donor; specified that the contesting boats were to run on three days over fifty-mile courses without engine adjustments of any kind. This means that high speed engines are required to operate at top speed for a total of 150 miles. At the end of each day's racing, observers were put on board with orders to seal the engines. The boats then taken to the boat houses and put under the eye of a policeman who allowed no one to touch the craft until 10 minutes before the preparatory gun for the next day's contest. When actually engaged in racing the mechanicians were allowed to make what adjustments were necessary. To anyone familiar with high speed engines it is plain that no serious alterations could be made to a plant when underway. A tremendous amount of credit should be given to the makers of all the engines that finished the 150 mile stretch.

The Fisher Trophy Race

When Carl Fisher announced two years ago that he would put up a gold cup for displacement boats having speeds of better than forty miles an hour even the most optimistic of power boatmen doubted whether such a boat could be built. When it was found that the engines were to be limited to 3000 cubic inches displacement and that they must be regular stock marine engines the doubt was increased. The restrictions were finally placed at 33 miles for the minimum speed and it was specified that no adjustments were to be made on either hull or engine during the time the boats were not racing.

Last year, arrangements for the race could not be made in time; so this year was the first race for this trophy. The deed of gift requires that the same owner wins the race three times before becoming the possessor of the magnificent prize. Five boats came to the line on each of the three days racing. Each heat was held over a 2½ mile triangle the boats going over a course 20 times, a total of fifty miles a day. Four of the boats were built and designed by the Detroit builder, John Hacker. The remaining craft was Crouch-designed and built by Ditchburn in Canada. She was owned by H. B. Greening of the Hamilton (Ont.) Y. C. and powered with a six-cylinder Sterling engine of the G. R. type. During half the race Snap Shot, a local boat, fought for, and retained a slight lead over Rainbow; but she finally found the pace too hot and allowed the Hamilton boat to take the lead. From this on the black flier was never headed. To the onlookers it seemed as if Mr. Greening, who was driving with the utmost nonchalance, had something up his sleeve and had allowed Snap Shot to have the first for ten laps. Edsel Ford driving his maiden race in Comanche was second. For a while Falcon III, a sister boat to Comanche, put up a good race, but engine trouble forced her back further until towards the end of the race the trouble was eliminated and the boat put up to speed. As it was she made the fastest lap of the race, 37½ miles an hour. Snap Shot was third; Doughboy fourth and Falcon fifth, almost an hour behind the leaders. As soon as the boats finished they reported to the judges float and an observer was put on board. They then got gasoline and were sent to a boat house where they were watched by a police officer who allowed no one to go aboard until to minutes before the next preparatory gun.

The second day was a repetition of the first as far as Rainbow was concerned. She allowed Snap Shot to show the way for about 12 miles, when she opened up and took the lead. Falcon again made the fastest lap but engine trouble kept her from holding her speed. She finished in third place however, beating Doughboy, who only had half her power, by about 6 minutes. The Ford entry went out in the 14th lap. Rainbow had averaged better than 37 miles for the 30 miles, while Snap Shot and Falcon had done better than 36 miles. On one lap she beat the world’s record for displacement boats by travelling at 38.3 miles, 2/10 of a mile faster than Brush By's time at the Thousand Islands.

The third and final race was again a victory for the wonderful Hamilton boat. As far as we on the judges stand could see the crew of Rainbow had remained in their seats for the entire three races. As adjustments when underway were allowed it appeared that the Sterling engine was running absolutely without attention. Seen from any angle Rainbow is a remarkable craft. It was whispered that she had cost Mr. Greening about $25,000 but it was money well spent. All of her deck fittings, her hatch beams, control board etc., are of aluminum specially designed for the boat. For the first few laps Snap Shot with a duplicate power plant held the lead, but as on the previous days Rainbow seemed to catch up when it was found advisable. For nearly two laps the two boats raced along at about a 38 mile clip on even terms. Rainbow finally shot into the lead and from then on the result was never in doubt. Comanche had failed to finish on Monday and consequently could not start in the final race. Falcon made two rounds at a good pace and then slowed down with serious engine trouble. At one time she was on fire at the lower turn. She finally gave up the contest at about the 10th mile after the others had finished. The final result for the series was, Rainbow, 18 points; Snap Shot, 14 points; Doughboy, 10 points. The engine troubles which had beset the trailers were partly accounted for by the fact that the boats had not had a proper amount of preliminary tuning up.

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The Gar Wood $5000 Prize Race

A race in which a great deal of advance interest had been shown was the contest for the $5000 cash prize offered by Gar Wood. According to the rules there were to be no restrictions as to size, power or type of boat. The first prize was to be $2500; the second, $1500 and the third $1000. The course was to be across the lake and return a distance of 42 miles. On Saturday only three boats showed up for the test. All were Liberty powered. The first was the enormous box-like hull Gar Jr. II which is eventually to be fitted with cabins. As she came to the line she presented a sight that moved one naval architect to remark, that he now knew that a freight car would plane if the wheels were taken off and enough power put in. Gar Jr. II is fitted with two Liberty engines. Miss Nassau of Miami fame and Sure Cure, a Hacker hull, were the other contestants. Running at about 45 miles an hour, Sure Cure finished first, followed by Miss Nassau who was only 9 seconds behind. Gar Jr. II was last. All of the boats had averaged better than 43 miles an hour. The second race run on Sunday in rough seas went to Gar Jr. II, for Sure Cure and Miss Nassau dropped out. Sure Cure scored several cylinders and had to be towed in, while Miss Nassau loosened her propeller shaft. Under the rules the two that dropped out are automatically eliminated so the first prize money went back to the donor. Sure Cure got second money and Miss Nassau third. The third heat was not run.

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The Sallan Trophy and Other Events

The three races for the Sallan Trophy for cruising boats over a 22½ mile course; a total of 67½ miles were won by Lidwina III, formally our old friend, Speejacks. She had 52 points. Tillamook was second with 48 points and White Cap and Cornelia II tied for third place.

The race for the Detroit News Trophy, also for cruising boats, was a one heat affair over a to mile course and was won by Elco, a stock Cruisette, built by the Elco Works of Bayonne. A biz cruiser with the peculiar name of 2 P. M. was second. Tillamook was third and Betty M fourth.

In the Miller Chance Race; a contest for boats of all classes and all sizes, the plan was to allow the winner and each of the other boats one point for finishing and one point for every boat they defeated. At the dinner given after the races all contestants were to have one draw for the prizes for each point they obtained. The big Gar Jr. II was the winner of the race; with Ed Bet, a Belle Isle runabout, second and Betty M third. There were nine starters. The results of the drawing gave first prize to Gar. Jr. II; second to Betty M; third to Tillamook; fourth to Elco. All contestants got a prize of some sort.

In the contest for the Scripps Trophy for cruisers having a piston displacement of 350 cubic inches; June who was one of the three boats to finish the Cleveland Y. C.'s long distance race to Put-In-Bay and return; had a sail-over. A match race between Betty M and Olalen proved a victory for the former. The mile time trials for the Motor Boating; Rosenfeld and A. P. B. A. Lake George Challenge Cups were contested for on Wednesday morning. The Lake George Cup went to Miss America as did the Aladdin Cup which was for the fastest time made in the Gold Cup race. The Motor Boating Cup went to Miss Nassau for being the fastest runabout and the Rosenfeld Trophy to Rainbow for being the fastest of the Fisher class boats.

The Fisher Trophy 30 Mile Heats
Rainbow 1:22:17 1:20:42 1:21:31 18
Snap Shot 1:25:58 1:21:41 1:22:03 14
Doughboy 1:29:26 1:28:45 1:27:09 10
Falcon III 2:17:57 1:22:23 DNF 6
Comanche 1:25:49 DNF DNS 6
The Gar Wood Prize 42.5 Mile Heats.
Gar Jr. II 1:01:00 59:46 No Race 4
Sure Cure 57:59 DNF   3
Miss Nassau 58:08 DNF   2
The Mile Time Trials — Six Runs Each Direction
Boat Best Mile Average Speed
Miss America 78.947 mph 76.738 mph
Miss New Orleans 60.00 mph 58.35 mph
Miss Nassau 50.46 mph 48.91 mph
Rainbow 40.75 mph 39.443 mph
Sure Cure 48.5 mph 47.17 mph
Gar Jr. II 47.6 mph 45.73 mph
Comanche 41.00 mph 31.883 mph
The following boats now hold worlds records for their class:
Miss America, Hydroplane Class; Speed 76.735 mph
Rainbow, Runabouts with Stock Marine Engines ; Speed 39.483 mph
Miss Nassau, Runabouts any Engine; Speed 48.91 mph
Boat Owner Designer Engine
Miss America G.A. Wood Smith 2 Liberty
Miss Detroit V Gar Wood Jr. Smith 2 Liberty
Miss New Orleans D.Gilmore Hacker 1 Liberty
Miss Belle Isle Paul Strassburg Belle Isle 1 Liberty
Miss Toronto II Miss T. P. B. A Smith 1 Liberty
Imp II E. B. Blakely Hacker 1 Hall Scott
Rainbow H. B. Greening Crouch 1 Sterling
Snap Shot J. W. Stroh Hacker 1 Sterling
Doughboy J. Kelson Hacker 1 Hall Scott
Comanche Edsel Ford Hacker 2 Hall Scott
Falcon III J. Moore Hacker 2 Hall Scott
Gar Jr. II G. A. Wood Smith 2 Liberty
Sure Cure P. Strassburg Hacker 1 Liberty
Miss Nassau C.B. Johnson Smith 1 Liberty
Lidwina III S. B. Egan Consolidated S.B. 2 Speedways
Elco S. O. Richardson Elco 1 J. V. B.
Tillamook Geo. Jerome Wilby 2 Murray & Tregurtha
June George King   1 Scripps
Betty M C. W. Kotcher Wilby 2 Van Blerck


(Reprinted from The Rudder, October 1920, pp.5-8, 45-48)