1924 APBA Gold Cup

The Detroit Gold Cup and Sweepstake Races

A Big Entry List, Ideal Conditions and Fast time Make Most Successful Regatta

By W. G. Sheehan

Speed boat enthusiasts who journeyed to their Mecca, which, in this case, happened to be Detroit, were not disappointed this year. They saw seventy starts in seven races extending over a period of four days. They were days filled with speed, sinkings and the loss of one boat by fire—thrills enough for anyone.

An innovation in the management of the races this year was the completion of the three-heat races in one day instead of extending them through three days of racing, as heretofore. This was greatly appreciated by the drivers, and added to the interest of the public at large, which is no small matter at Detroit, with the river banks and the grandstands packed with thousands of spectators.

The first race of the regatta was run on Friday, August 29th, and was for the Greening-Duff trophy, also known as the Junior Gold Cup. All three heats were easily won by Lady Helen, owned by Dick Locke, of the Detroit Yacht Club. Lady Helen is a trim little 21-foot clinker-built craft powered with a six-cylinder Scripps motor. Lady Helen's average speed was as follows: first heat, 30.2 m.p.h.; second heat. 28.8 m.p.h.; third heat, 30.3 m.p.h. There were five entries in this event.

The Gold Cup Race

Unfortunately the Gold Cup race on Saturday, August 30th, was again referred to the sea lawyers It seems that back in 1922 the American Power Boat Association decided that the rules as then printed would not be changed until 1925. However, last year there was an amendment adopted that provided that clinker-built boats would be eligible to race for the Gold Cup. When Harry Greening's Rainbow IV arrived in Detroit, it was seen that she had been built to this amendment and had twelve one-inch steps. This proved a thorn in the sides of some of the contestants and a protest was promptly filed. The Gold Cup Committee, not having jurisdiction in the matter of rules, referred it to the American Power Boating Association and decided to run the race subject to its decision.

In spite of the difficulties encountered, the event itself proved to be a real race from the viewpoint of the gallery. Each of the three heats of thirty miles was won different boat, making it one of the most closely contested races on record. Rainbow IV driven by Harry B. Greening of the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club, took the lead the first lap of the first heat and held her position until the end, crossing the line one minute, three seconds ahead of the second boat. In the second heat, however, Miss Columbia, driven by Chas. F. Chapman. of the Columbia Yacht Club, New York, took the lead and held it. Rainbow IV and Baby Bootlegger, driven by Caleb Bragg, also of the Columbia Yacht Club, provided the sensation of the day by their fight for second place. Lap after lap, first one and then the other was ahead. However, Rainbow IV proved her class in the seventeenth lap by passing Baby Bootlegger, but was unable to overtake Miss Columbia.

In the third heat Bragg set the pace and by skillful driving held his advantage to the finish. Greening took second while Miss Columbia came in third. The official result of the race follows. The new system of scoring adopted by the APBA last year was used.

Position Name Driver Points
1 Rainbow IV H. B. Greening 1122
2 Baby Bootlegger C. S. Bragg 1085
3 Miss Columbia C. F. Chapman 1013
4 Curtiss-Wilgold Paul Strassberg 803
5 Baby America Gar Wood 547
6 Wilgold II G. W. Hall 512
7 Lady Shores H. C. Rose 196
8 Miss Mary E. L. Grimm DNF


Rainbow IV is credited with two laps at 47 miles per hour, while Miss Columbia made three laps at the same speed. The average times of the first three boats were as follows

Boat Heats
1st 2nd 3rd
Rainbow IV 43.6 46.3 46.2
Baby Bootlegger 44.4 45.2 46.4
Miss Columbia 43.8 46.8 44.9

All three of these boats were designed by Geo. F. Crouch. They are beautiful craft and received much favorable comment as to their original design and smooth performance. The protest against Rainbow IV was withdrawn after the race.

The Sallan Trophy Race

The sixth annual race for this famous cruiser trophy was held over a twenty-five mile course from the Detroit Yacht Club on the Detroit River into Lake St. Clair and return.

It is a three-heat event, two being run during the day and one at night. This year a fleet of nineteen cruisers was at the line. Weather conditions were ideal and the night race proved the seamanship of some of the skippers who were, consequently, rewarded for their ability in the final standing. The leading boats to place were as follows:

Boat Owner Points Speed
Miss Liberty Owen Brandon 89 14.2
Silver Heels Com. A. A. Shantz 87 11.1
La Bobbette Mark Hanna 82 10.6


Chris Craft Race

By far the most spectacular start of the entire regatta was the Chris Craft Invitation Race on Sunday. August 31st. These boats were designed and built by Chris Smith, of Algonac, and are one-design 26-foot runabouts, each powered with a 90-h.p. motor. For three laps the whole fleet tore through the water on almost equal terms; then, as superior driving or condition of engines began to tell, the boats strung our somewhat but were well bunched at the end. All nineteen finished. In the midst of the spray from the flying boats was Miss "Babe" Trites, of the Port Huron Yacht Club, at the wheel of the Babe. She took third place, first going to Edward Porath in Jul-Ed, and second to Jack Wood's Woodfly. The average speed of the winner was 29.4 m.p.h.

DeRoy Trophy Race

This was an Australian pursuit race, wherein every boat overtaken dropped out, and it was won by Chris Sorenson with Pal-O-Mine, Jr. There were five starters.

An Outboard Motor Race

There were twenty-nine starters in the outboard motor race for the Main Sheet Trophy. The boats were divided into three classes. according to power. The winners were : Class A, W. R. Doak; Class B, F. Kirk; Class C, F. F. Lempert.

The most amusing incident of the entire regatta occurred in this race when "Gar" Wood and Harry Greening appeared on the course with a specially constructed open boat with the name Green-Wood painted on her side. She was equipped with three outboard motors, but she did not perform up to the standard of the famous skippers.

The 150-mile Sweepstakes

The most sensational race ever staged at Detroit was the annual sweepstakes of 150 miles or 50 times around the three-mile course, for a trophy valued at $1000. Another thousand dollars expense money was divided among the boats finishing.

Fourteen boats started on the long grind.

Miss America VII, driven by "Gar" Wood, took the lead and was never passed, though she was threatened continually by Cigarette, Jr., driven by L. Gordon Hamersley, of New York. The two boats ran for the entire distance with but a few separating them.

With the exception of first and second places, positions continually changed. On the first lap Baby America Too, piloted by Geo. Wood, went into third place and was passed on the second lap by Edsel Ford's Nine Ninety Nine. These boats were serious contenders for first place, but were followed by a jinx. Baby America hit a piece of driftwood on the third lap and her pilot just succeeded in putting her bow on a runway at the club in time to save her from sinking.

It was a nervy piece of work and drew long applause from the gallery. Nine Ninety Nine succeeded in holding third place and was less than twenty seconds behind Cigarette Jr. As the race progressed, her pace increased until they were only a few seconds apart. However, on the eighteenth lap she caught fire and sank. Third place then was taken by Big Jim, owned by Jerry McCarthy. But she developed motor trouble on the twenty-third lap, when third place passed to Baby Delphine III, a Dodge boat driven by Paul Strassberg. This position he held continually until the forty-second lap, when she retired. This placed Baby Gar II, driven by Phil Wood, in third place, which she held to the end.

Here is the way the results of the big race tabulate.

150-Mile Sweepstakes
Position Boat Owner Club Driver Best Lap Average Miles Per Hour
1 Miss Detroit VII Gar A. Wood D.Y.C. Gar Wood 54.8 48.7
2 Cigarette, Jr L. Gordon Hamersley N.Y.A.C. L. Gordon Hamersley 54.1 48.65
3 Baby Gar IV Gar. A. Wood D.Y.C. Phil Wood 48.5 45.7
4 Woodfish Edsel B. Ford. D.Y.C. John Stroh 46.2 44.8
5 Baby Bootlegger Caleb S. Bragg C.Y.C Caleb Bragg 45.7 43.1
6 Baby Horace Horace E. Dodge D.Y.C W. Abar 49.3 42.5
7 Miss Columbia Columbia Y. C. C.Y.C. C. F. Chapman 46.4 41.4
8 Wilgold II J. A. Williams B.L.C. C. Sidwar 45.9 41.2
9 East Wind Humphrey Birge B.L.C Moore 41.2 38.4
10 Baby Delphine. Horace E. Dodge D.Y.C Paul Strasburg 50.5 Took tow 43d lap
  999 Edsel B. Ford D.Y.C Dahlinger 53.0 Caught fire 18th lap
  Black Cat Horace E. Dodge D.Y.C Wm. Joyce 40.6 Flagged
  Baby America Too Gar A. Wood D.Y.C Geo. Wood 49.6 Hole in bottom 4th lap


(Reprinted from Yachting, October 1924, pp.24-27)