1921 Fisher Allison Trophy

The Buffalo Speed Boat Regatta

Rainbow Takes the Fisher-Allison Trophy in Fast Time

By Herbert L. Stone; Photographs by M. Rosenfeld

Rainbow won a leg on the Fisher-Allison Trophy
Rainbow won a leg on the Fisher-Allison Trophy last year at Detroit and repeated her performance at Buffalo. She is powered with a Sterling GR motor

It begins to look as if the much coveted Fisher-Allison Trophy was not destined to remain in one place very long and as if it will be some time before any owner can carry it home with him "for keeps," judging from the results of the three hard fought heats at Buffalo August 11, 12 and 13 at the regatta of the Buffalo Launch Club. One leg on it was taken last year at Detroit by Rainbow, then owned by Harry B. Greening of Toronto, and at Miami, in February. The little Adieu, owned by Webb Jay of Chicago, got a grip on it in a series of hard fought heats. At Buffalo both of these boats were again entered, as well as a number of other fast ones, and Rainbow again showed the way to the rest of the fleet. But, unfortunately for Mr. Greening, he did not own the boat then, having sold her to S. B. Egan of the Buffalo Launch Club, while he built a new one for the race. And so the cup goes to Buffalo for a while instead of to Toronto, and no owner has more than one leg on it, for it goes to the owner and not to the boat. But such are the fortunes of war!

To go back to the races themselves, let it be said that when the Buffalo Launch Club, under the leadership of Commodore Ralph H. Sidway and an energetic bunch of officers and committeemen, scheduled a regatta which included the running of the Fisher-Allison event, it was a foregone conclusion it was going to be one of the most interesting of an interesting season's regattas.

Rainbow II, designed by George F. Crouch, and powered with two GR Sterlings
Rainbow II, designed by George F. Crouch, and powered with two GR Sterlings, is a most interesting craft, with a tunnel stern and surface propellers

In addition to the three fifty-mile heats for the big trophy, there were international championship races for the hydroplanes, express cruiser races, and races for unlimited displacement boats on the program, and the entry list contained the names of most of the fastest boats racing in this country and Canada. The Fisher-Allison trophy event had, of course, right of way on the program by reason of the great interest it aroused and the severe test to which it put the entrants. For, be it known, in this race a boat has to run three fifty-mile heats on succeeding days without having any work done or any overhauling of the engines during this time. As soon as a race is over the hoods of the engines are sealed, observers put on board, and the seals are not broken until a few minutes before the start of the next race. So that any boat that comes through the three races has a record to be proud of. If any boat does not finish a heat, she cannot enter the next one. The trophy was offered for reliability as well as speed in engine and boat construction and — take it from those who have raced for it — it does that to perfection.

Nine boats were entered for this event (a big entry list) but unfortunately some of the new ones were not ready on time or met with mishaps before the start, so that only five faced the starter for the first heat. These were :

Boat Owner Club Engine
Rainbow I S. B. Eagan Buffalo Launch Club Sterling
Orlo III (sea sled) Geo. Leary Sag Harbor Y. C. Murray & Tregurtha
Miss Sterling Griffith Clarke Royal Canadian Y. C. Sterling
Adieu Webb Jay Chicago Y.C. Hall-Scott
Aye Aye Sir C. G. Fisher Miami B.Y.C. Allison


When these boats faced the starter the first day, with clutches out waiting for the gun, it looked like any one's race. All jumped away at the start and when they settled down for the long grind of 25 laps of the 2-mile course they were hitting a record-breaking pace. Orlo III and Rainbow soon pulled out ahead, running the laps with almost clock-like regularity, but the big sea sled seemed to have a little more up her sleeve on the straight-aways and held her lead at the end of the race, finishing 11 seconds ahead of Rainbow. Both of these boats broke the existing records for a course of this length and maintained a speed of just short of 40 miles per hour.

Miss Sterling
Miss Sterling, another Crouch boat powered with a Sterling GR. was one of the most consistent performers at Buffalo. She took second place in the race for the Fisher-Allison Trophy
Aye Aye Sir
Aye Aye Sir was built by Purdy for Carl G. Fisher. She ran out of gas on the 25th lap of the first heat.
Orlo III
The sea sled Orlo III, driven by Albert Hickman, made an average speed of 57.8 miles per hour in six dashes over the measured mile

Miss Sterling was third, the better part of a lap behind, while Aye Aye Sir evidently made a miscalculation somewhere, for she ran out of gasoline on the 25th lap and so was out of it. Maybe they figured too closely aboard of her.

The summary follows:

Boat Elapsed Time Miles per Hour Points
Orlo III 1:15:27 39.69 9
Rainbow I 1:15:38 39.60 8
Miss Sterling 1:18:00 38.4 7
Adieu 1:39:25 30.1 6
Aye Aye Sir DNF    


Only the first four of the above boats came to the line the next day for the second heat, Aye Aye Sir failing to qualify because she did not finish.

Water conditions were not quite so good for fast time as on the previous day and no new records were made. Rainbow held the lead for a good part of the way and finished strong, over half a lap ahead of the second boat, Miss Sterling. Orlo III was in trouble and had to slow down, but got going again and finished 30 minutes after the leader. The little Adieu also got into difficulties and did not finish. The time of those finishing follows:

Boat Elapsed Time Miles per hour Points Total Points
Rainbow I 1:22:04 36.5 9 17
Miss Sterling 1:23:51 35 8 15
Orlo III 1:52:00 27.5 7 16
Adieu DNF      


The race had now narrowed down to three boats and it looked as if the fight would be between Rainbow and Orlo III, with Miss Sterling only an outside chance of tieing if she should win and Rainbow get last. Conditions for fast time were better than on the preceding day and the boats jumped away at the gun and hit a hot pace from the very start. Rainbow and Miss Sterling made a very pretty race, with the latter hanging on to the former throughout, but she was not quite fast enough and the Buffalo entry came into the last lap in the lead and finished, amid a big noise from the club dock and anchored boats. 13 seconds to the good, which, translated into distance, represents some eighth of a mile. Orlo III was not feeling her best and did not finish, as the summaries show.

Boat Elapsed Time Miles per hour Points Total Points
Rainbow 1:17:02 39. 9 26
Miss Sterling 1:17:15 38.8 8 23
Orlo III DNF      


This gave the cup to Rainbow after a wonderfully consistent race of 150 miles during which her engine ran like clockwork and her crew handled her to perfection. Miss Sterling and Orlo III were tied for second place on points, but by the conditions of the trophy the place goes to Miss Sterling by reason of her total elapsed time being the better.

In the hydroplane event the racing was not as good, due to the scratching of some boats and mishaps to others. On the first day a Buffalo entry, Miss Mystery, caught fire before the race and was so badly burned she was out of it for good and the first heat was postponed until the next day. When they were finally started on the 12th only three boats were at the line, Miss Toronto II, of the Toronto Motor Boat Club, Arab IV, of the Buffalo Launch Club, and Rosita of the Milwaukee Y. C. Just to keep up the average of mishaps, Rosita capsized on one of the turns of the last lap and went to the bottom and Arab IV who has had all kinds of hard luck in her brief but checkered career, had trouble with her steering gear and limped in long after the winner, Miss Toronto II, whose time was 32 minutes and 8 seconds for the 23 miles.

In the race for express cruisers on August 11 between Miss Liberty II, owned by Humphrey Birge, of Buffalo, and Sea Horse, owned by James A. Allison, of Indianapolis, the former finished well ahead but lost on corrected time to Sea Horse, which raced under the colors of the Miami Beach Y. C.

The mile trials were held on Sunday, the 14th, three runs each way over the measured mile, and the fastest time was made by Orlo III. She averaged 57.8 miles per hour for the six runs, ten miles an hour faster than the best time made at Miami this winter. Rainbow I averaged 44.03 for her six heats. Adieu was disabled. Rainbow II, which had struck some floating object and sunk before the meet, was raised and repaired, but went down again on the day of the mile trials.

The free-for-all race was held on Sunday and was won by Miss Sterling, with Aye Aye Sir second. Bone Dry, powered with a Liberty engine, caught fire and withdrew, while Orlo III could get but one engine started

The same day there was a race for the "Bear Cats," which was won by Ward Wickwire's Wicki Wicki in a close finish, the three contestants being only a few seconds apart.

(Reprinted from Yachting, September 1921, pp.111-113)