1926 Presidents Cup - Gold Cup Class Participation

Cigarette IV Wins Presidents Cup on the Potomac

A Fine Fleet Makes Fast Time in Washington's First Big Regatta

Cigarette IV and Solar Plexus
Cigarette IV and Solar Plexus

Things were far from being "all quiet along the Potomac" when the sizable fleet of fliers from all parts of the United States east of the Mississippi, unlimbered and got into action off the capital of the nation, September 17th and 18th, on the occasion of the Presidents Cup Regatta. What with the roar of exhausts as the speedsters cut loose, the high-flung spray as they "banked" on the turns at either end of the course, and the 75,000 persons massed on the banks, the old river had seen no such excitement since the strenuous days of '61 and '62, when opposing armies faced each other across its waters.

This initial effort at a national regatta of the Corinthian Yacht Club, of Washington, was one of the outstanding successes of the racing season, and from a racing view-point was the best meet of the year. In the first place, the fleet was representative and of exceedingly high quality. The best boats from Detroit, from New York, from Long Island Sound, and even from as far as Florida and the Mississippi Valley, were on hand to battle for the trophy that was sponsored by the President of the nation, and for the many other cups which an energetic regatta committee had collected for the event. And not only were the races keenly contested, but the "mortality" was exceedingly low, and most of the fliers came through the various heats without accidents that forced them to drop out. This has been far from the case with many of the other power boat events of the year.

The program was a varied one. The chief event was the race for the Presidents Cup, run in three heats of 15 miles each, over a course of 3 miles to the lap. There were nine starters in each heat. Cigarette IV, the new duralumin racer of L. Gordon Hamersley, shook the hard luck that had followed her in both the Gold Cup and the Detroit Sweepstakes events, and came through in great style, taking each of the three heats at a speed of approximately 55 miles per hour. Miss Syndicate, entered by the Dodge Bros. Dealers' Association, gave Cigarette the closest race, and finished second in the first and second heats. In the third heat a bent propeller forced her out on the third lap. This let Horace, owned by Mrs. Hugh Dillman, and driven by F. G. Ericson, slip into second place, 21 seconds behind the leader. Greenwich Folly, George H. Townsend's Gold Cup Winner, ran most consistently and took two thirds and one fourth place.

The times of the three heats were as follows:

Boat Owner First Heat Second Heat Third Heat
Cigarette IV L. G. Hamersley 16:25.4 16:18.4 17:02.6
Miss Syndicate Dodge Bros. Dealers Assn. 18:53.6 16:54.8 D.N.F.
Greenwich Folly G. H. Townsend 17:42.2 17:39.0 17:53.8
Horace Mrs. H. Dillman 18:21.6 17:26.6 17:24.0
Solar Plexus H. E. Dodge 18:37.8 18:38.8 18:32.0
Palm Beach Days Wagg & Bigelow 18:58.4 18:59.0 18:41.6
Nuisance Mrs. D. D. Cromwell 19:46.4 20:59.6 20:25.6
Sara de Sota F. Adair, Jr. D.N.F. 19:02.4 18:49.0
Special Chance C. E. Chance D.N.F. 21:41.8 21:20.2


The International Class for unlimited hydroplanes found "Gar" Wood's Miss America IV and Miss America V, and Alex Johnson's much heralded Yankee Doodle, at the line. The French challenger Excelsior-France was entered, but after three weeks in this country she was still not ready to run, and withdrew. They got away to a spectacular start, the two Americas doing better than 60 per. The IV sheered off the course at the first turn and lost valuable time. Her helmsman got her back, however, and she went after the leaders with a roar. At the start of the third lap she had caught Yankee Doodle, and as they rounded side by side, a cloud of smoke shot from the Doodle's engine compartment, and Johnson was forced to withdraw. Miss America V won the event, taking only 22 min. 15.6 sec. to cover the 24 miles. Later, this boat made 78.603 m.p.h. over the mile course.

The 151-class of little hydroplanes always furnishes the best of sport. J. H. Rand, Jr. brought two of his famous Spitfires down from Tonawanda, where they had recently hung up world's records in this class on the Niagara River. His Miss Spitfire VI won the first two heats in this class at Washington in easy fashion, doing over 42 m.p.h. None of the other boats were anywhere near her in speed. E. W. Hammond's Miss Westchester II was her closest competitor in the second heat. In the third heat this boat and Miss Spitfire VI ran their heads off for the lead. The effort was too much for both of them. Miss Westchester finished on three cylinders and lasted long enough to win the heat when Spitfire broke down as a result of the hot pace. The Spitfires were built by the Richardson Boat Co., and are remarkable little craft.

In the Junior Presidents Cup event Lady Helen II, a Hacker-Fermann boat, owned by Aaron de Roy and driven by Dick Locke, repeated her victory at Detroit earlier in the month. Miss Okechobee won the Secretary of the Navy's Cup for W. J. Conners, but Horace reversed the tables on her in the Potomac River Championship and won. J. E. Battenfield's Gray Bat III, a local boat, in the Free-for-all, bowed to "Bill" Bigelow's Palm Beach Days by only half a length, and Number 20 beat a field of five in the Biscayne Baby Class.

The success of the regatta was due to the effective efforts of the regatta committee of the Corinthian Yacht Club and some of its hard working members, but especially to Commodore C. C. Smith, Vice Commodore W. A. Rogers, and to Ira Hand, of the National Association.

(Reprinted from Yachting, November 1926, pp.44-45)