1925 APBA Gold Cup
Baby Bootlegger Keeps the Gold Cup
Again Captures Pried Trophy for the Columbia Yacht Club
Regatta at Manhasset Bay Great Success
Photographs By M. Rosenberg & E. Levick
Every one who was lucky enough to be at Manhasset Bay on August 29th, saw history once more repeat itself when the most consistent of boats, Baby Bootlegger, driven by her owner, Caleb S. Bragg, outlasted and outfooted a field of nine of the best racing speed boats that could be produced and captured, rather easily, in three 30-mile heats, the Gold Cup for the Columbia Yacht Club. Last year she won the trophy at Detroit and brought it back to New York for the first time in 10 years. In taking it again this year she bettered her speed of the previous race by several miles and made the fastest time ever seen in this event since the engine limitations were added to the conditions of the race some years ago.
The four days' regatta staged at Manhasset Bay from August 27th to 30th in connection with the Gold Cup Race was the biggest thing of its kind ever held in New York waters and was a great success from start to finish. All roads led to "The Bay" the last week in August, and the largest fleet of yachts ever assembled for an event upon the water was on hand for the opening heat of the Gold Cup Race. There must have been 1,500 craft anchored around the 3-mile course, which, with two large floating grandstands, must have carried not less than 15,000 spectators. And before going on to the story of the races it should be recorded that the affair was most excellently planned and handled. There was not a hitch in the entire program. Every one of the 25 events was started on scheduled time. There was not a delay anywhere. The course was efficiently patrolled and kept clear at all times, and the big crowd was handled without any trouble. The race committee, headed by C. F. Chapman, did its work well and set a standard that will be exceedingly hard to improve upon.
The same thing cannot be said, however, of the boats in the principal events. The mortality was exceedingly high among the racing craft. In the Gold Cup Race, out of eleven entries that showed up at the course, only three finished in the second and third heats, and only two of these completed all three heats. In the Dodge Memorial Trophy Race no more than three boats completed any one of the short 12-mile heats, and, in three heats, only two finished. In the International Trophy Race of 105miles there were only six starters and only two finished. It must have been disheartening to the owners, who had put so much time and money into boats built for these events. The casualties were much greater than at Detroit last year, and much greater than should have been necessary. Unless they can be materially reduced the sport is bound to suffer. Anyone building for such an event at least wants a run for his money.
The Gold Cup Race
The first heat of the Gold Cup Race brought nine starters to the line, the last word in speed boat and engine construction. These were Miss Columbia, Baby Bootlegger, winner of the cup at Detroit last year, and Nuisance, all representing the Columbia Yacht Club of New York; Baby Shadow, of the Miami Beach Yacht Club; Miss Tampa, of the Davis Island Yacht Club; Curtiss Wilgold II, of the Buffalo Launch Club; Impshi, representing the Dodge Dealers' Association; Solar Plexus, owned by Horace E. Dodge, 2nd, and Baby America II, G. A. Wood owner.
At the crack of the gun Nuisance and Miss Tampa jumped away in the lead, lapped, but Baby Shadow was opened up and coming fast. Before the upper turn in the three-mile course was reached Baby Shadow shot to the front and led down the back stretch, going like a scared cat. Baby America, Gar Wood's latest creation, and driven by George Wood, brought up the rear. It was soon apparent that she did not have the power or speed of the other boats.
At the end of the first lap the boats had settled down into their stride. Baby Shadow was in the lead, apparently running easily, with Nuisance in second place and Miss Columbia, driven by L. Gordon Hamersley, third.
The boats maintained this order for three laps, when Baby Bootlegger, driven by Caleb Bragg, overhauled Miss Columbia and passed her on the sixth lap. Wilgold II challenged Miss Columbia and passed her, but the effort was too much and Wilgold II dropped out on the next lap with a broken rod.
As the boats entered the last lap Baby Shadow still led, and it looked as if she had the race won, so smoothly was she running. She had no more than flashed by the committee boat on her last round, with Nuisance quite aways astern, when a puff of smoke enveloped her and she came to a stop, dead on the water. She was done, and Nuisance shot by her and took the lead, followed closely by Baby Bootlegger. It developed later that Baby Shadow had broken a piston rod, which went through the crank case. She was not burned but was damaged beyond immediate repair. Nuisance went on and won the race, closely pressed by Baby Bootlegger, .with Impshi third. It was a great heat. Nuisance was credited with a speed of 49 miles an hour, a record speed for the Gold Cup class, and the fastest of any of the heats.
The second and third heats developed into nothing more than processions. Only six boats started the second heat. While Nuisance was first away, Baby Bootlegger came roaring down the course after her and before the first lap was completed she took the lead and was never headed thereafter. On the seventh lap Miss Tampa broke a rudder strut and Nuisance had engine trouble, both dropping out, followed by Miss Columbia a little later. Impshi ran well and finished second. In the next heat only four boats started and only three survived. Baby Bootlegger only had to complete the course to get enough points to win the cup and Caleb Bragg let the others make the pace and did not force his boat. She took second place nearly a minute behind Miss Tampa, at a speed well below her best. It was rather an anti-climax to the thrilling first heat. Here is the race in tabular form:
|Gold Cup Race -- 3 Heats, 30 Miles Each
|Best Av Speed
|C. S. Bragg
|D. P. Davis
|Baby America II
|G. A. Wood
|Mrs. D. D. Cromwell
|out 8th lap
|Dodge Dealers Assn.
|Columbia Y. C. Synd.
|C. G. Fisher
|H. L. Dodge 2nd
|Curtiss Wilgold II
|R. V. Williams
The Dodge Memorial Trophy Race
All of the boats entered for the Gold Cup Race were eligible for the Dodge Memorial Trophy, to be run in four heats of 12 miles each. It was run the following day, yet only five boats showed up and no more than four ran in any one heat. It was a gift to Baby Bootlegger, which won all four heats in speeds below what she was forced to do in the Gold Cup Race. Baby Shadow was out with a new engine, but it had not been worn in and she only ran two heats. She is a beautiful running boat in smooth water, but a bit of a sea bothers her, whereas Baby Bootlegger seemed to revel in a chop, and was not apparently slowed down by it at all.
If the two major events did not prove everything that the owners of the boats hoped for, there were other classes that did. The Miami Beach One-Design Class gave the spectators a real thrill every time the boats turned out for one of the four heats, and gave the owners and drivers a run for their money. Here was a class of little 18-footers, all identical and each with the same engine, a 6-cylinder Scripps, presumably adjusted to the same speed. When they jumped away at the crack of the starter's gun, ail in a bunch, they tore up the waters of Manhasset Bay as if a Gulf Stream squall had swept them. There were ten of these little beggars and they ran the 12-mile heats at better than 38 miles per hour.
Running as smoothly as if she were out only on a practice spin Teaser with her big Wright-Aero engines kept dropping the miles behind her in the 105-mile International race. She was nearly two-thirds of a lap ahead of Miss Palm Beach when she flashed across the finish line a winner.
(Reprinted from Yachting, October 1925, pp. 21-24, 64+)