1928 Washington's Birthday Regatta - Bradley Gold Cup

Records Fall at Palm Beach Regatta

By Gerry Swinehart

Two events of paramount interest in the field of power boat racing marked the sixth annual Washington's Birthday regatta at West Palm Beach. Mrs. W. J. Conners, of Buffalo and Palm Beach, secured permanent possession of the Col. E. R. Bradley Gold Challenge Cup by her victory in Miss Okeechobee and Richard R. Loynes, of Long Beach, Calif., was eliminated as an immediate contender for permanent ownership of the Royal Poinciana Trophy for 151 hydroplanes, while a hold on the cup was created by Ralph Snoddy, of Los Angeles. The long-sought Bradley Cup thus passed from competition for the first time, while the Poinciana Cup still will be offered as the prize in at least two more regattas.

When Loynes brought Miss California to West Palm Beach this winter for the third time he already held two of the needed three legs on the hotel goblet. A win this year and this cup, too, would have gone the way of the Bradley trophy. But Ralph Snoddy, holder of the world's hydroplane records and mechanician for Loynes last year, brought his Miss Rioco to West Palm Beach and ran her faster than any hydroplane ever has run in competition over the waters of Lake Worth. When he left he took with him the first leg on the Poinciana Trophy, the entire 1200 racing points available to him, the First American Bank and Trust Company Trophy for limited hydroplane competition and most of the money offered. His wife, to top it off, carried away the Herbert P. Margerum Cup, for the women's 151 heat.

The outboards, too, had their big innings, shattering two world's records for speed. On Monday, February 20th, Johnny Patterson, driving Blue Diamond for Carl Fay of Cocoa, Fla., negotiated the two-and-a-half-mile course in 4:34:4, thereby creating a new mark for Class C 1928 outboards in competition. A day later, Bruno, owned by Ivan Whipple of St. Petersburg and driven by Ed Davis, turned the course in 5:33, or at an average speed of 27.7, thus heaving into the discard the old mark of 26:35 set by Julius Herbst in Kayo II at Washington, D. C., last September.

The business of manufacturing speed reached its climax in the display offered by Gar Wood in Miss America V on February 22nd. The Commodore whipped the big craft twice around the two-and-a-half-mile course in a total time of 4:22, or at an average speed of about 69 miles an hour. In a free-for-all race in which Wood entered Miss America and in which Mrs. Conners drove Miss Okeechobee, the former covered ten miles in 10:29:2 while Mrs. Conners, the wind in her teeth, negotiated the distance in 11:00:4.

Originally, the regatta this year was to have opened on Sunday, February 19th, continuing through Washington's Birthday. But the wind blew and kicked up the waters so wildly that all of the scheduled events, including the projected first big ocean sailing race in southern waters, had to be postponed. The usual lake events then were presented, beginning on Monday. The ocean races, however, after the sea had a second time become too furious to permit egress through the channel, were called off.

A total of eleven events were run off on Monday but greatest interest centered in the competition for limited 151 hydroplanes and in the outboards. The three heats for the limited hydroplanes were marked by two big thrills. The first came in the first heat when Dick Loynes narrowly averted a serious crash. The other rose from the racket of the last heat when Loynes, showing his old form, ran the course with Snoddy in a dead heat time of 6:50:4. Officials present said it was the first dead heat ever recorded in 151 racing history.

Just what Miss California might have shown against Snoddy's Miss Rioco in the first heat of the limited division is problematical. Although Snoddy took the lead, Loynes was off to a good start and might have finished in front except that while speeding down the east side of the course in the first lap, a cruiser threw up a wake so great that it forced him to graze a coast guard patrol boat and then crack into the floating buoy at the south end. The boat careened dangerously for a second, but then righted itself and stopped. After examining the craft hastily, Dick rounded the buoy and took out after the leaders. But Snoddy, who had successfully battled the waves, and the field were flying on ahead by this time and the veteran had to be content with a third. Snoddy's time for the first heat was 6:42. Baby Peerless, owned by Chris Ripp and driven by Frank Ripp, of Jamaica, L. I., was second in 7:07:3; Miss California was third in 7:32:2. In the second heat, Snoddy cut Miss Rioco's time to 6:34:1 and Loynes, showing promise, crept up to 6:41:1. Baby Peerless, of whom considerable had been expected, broke a connecting rod shortly after the start in this heat and had to be towed from the course.

The third and last heat of the limited race for the First American Bank Trophy saw Loynes and Snoddy off in rather an even break. For a time Snoddy held the lead and then gradually Loynes crept up on him. Almost as the two boats passed the finish line. Loynes eased Miss California's nose alongside Miss Rioco. The time was taken as 6:30:4 for both boats. Palm Beach Pup came in in 9:34.

In the two-and-a-half-mile 151 race for women. Mrs. Snoddy, driving Miss Rioco, annexed the Herbert P. Margerum Trophy in 3:10. Miss Fowler, driving Palm Beach Pup, crossed the line two-fifths of a second later. There were no other entries.

It was in the outboard Class C 1928 race, held on Monday, February 20th, that Johnny Patterson, driving Fay's Blue Diamond, turned up a new record of 32.751 miles per hour. He made the two and a half miles in 4:34:4. Baby Whale and Curtis DeLuxe, from Jacksonville and from Norfolk, Va., respectively, were second and third, in 5:01 and 5:07. In the second heat of the race, held the following day, Curtis DeLuxe, owned by J. H. and G. H. Curtis, came in 4:36. Baby Whale, owned by P. D. Harkan, was second in 4:39 and Blue Diamond third, in 4:44:3. By points for the entire event, Blue Diamond was awarded first place and the Palm Beach Yacht Club Trophy.

The outboard Class C 1927 race saw a field of nine starters, all of whom finished in times varying from 4:55:1 to 8:28:1. The first heat was annexed by H. M. Frasier in his newcomer to West Palm Beach, the Airdale, while in the second heat of this division the time was bettered by Wet Wash, owned by Dudley Towne, of Tampa, who made the two and a half miles in 4:46. Baby Winter Haven was second at 4:54 and Airdale third at 5:06. Wet Wash was awarded first place and the Airdale second.

Frasier's first spill was registered in the next event, the special Interstate Race for Class C outboards. There he was, slightly in the lead of Curtis DeLuxe, his motor running like wildfire. But he swerved too sharply on the south buoy and turned over. As a result, he was fished out and the Curtis brethren saw Curtis DeLuxe fly home in 4:53:2 to the glory of Virginia. Wet Wash, from Tampa, was second at 5:08, while Baby California could do no better than 5:53.

In the two heats for the outboard Class B 1927 craft both firsts were taken by Cute Craft Kid, owned by Malcolm Pope of Winter Haven, Fla., the first in 6:07 and the second in 5:57.

The race for the Bradley Gold Challenge Cup, permanently annexed by Mrs. Conners, who was successful in gaining the third and last needed leg, was the outstanding event of February 21st. Four displacement boats were in action. Mrs. Conners got Miss Okeechobee into her stride and gradually put distance between herself and her nearest competitor, Miss Largo II, owned and driven by Roland J. Ullmer, of Clearwater, Fla., hung on gamely but seemed no match for Miss Okeechobee who swept to victory over the ten miles in 29:48, an average speed of 50.3 miles per hour. Miss Largo II finished second in 32:47 and Miss Sara-de-Sota, owned by Robert Ringling of Sarasota, was third in 34:44.

The same day was marked by the creation of the new world's record for Class B outboards by Ed Davis in Bruno and by the running of the first heat in the 151 unlimited hydroplane division. Davis established his new record of 27.7 miles per hour when he covered the two-and-a-half-mile course in 5:33 and handily took first place in the event for Class B 1928 outboards. Cute Craft Kid. making the run in 6:01:3 was second, and Caille third in 6:18.

In the Class C open, Curtis DeLuxe and Blue Diamond, the latter also a record breaker previously, took first and second places in both heats. The Curtis entry did the two and a half miles in 4:43 and 4:50 while Blue Diamond required 4:46 and 4:50:1. By points, Baby Winter Haven took third place and Thrift, fourth.

From a standpoint of spectator interest. Wednesday, February 22nd, was probably the most popular day of the entire meet. This day brought before the gaze of the assembled thousands the veteran Gar Wood and his big racing machine, Miss America V. Although, of course, Miss Okeechobee could not hope to compete against Miss America V, and the six other entries could not hope to compete against Miss Okeechobee, the big free-for-all displacement race was one of the most thrilling events of the regatta. Throughout the affair boats flashed over the line at regular and not far distant intervals while the drivers showed their mettle almost without exception.

Commodore Wood, in Miss America V, made the ten miles in 10:29:2, traveling almost a mile a minute. Mrs. Conners pushed Miss Okeechobee in second in 11:00:4. Miss Largo II was apparently scheduled for third place but she was forced out in the third lap and the position went to Miss Tampa who finished in 12:24:2. Wood in his solo exhibition covered five miles in 4:22.

The remainder of the afternoon was devoted largely to outboards. In addition to the final heats already described in connection with the initial heats run on Tuesday. Wednesday held forth tour other outboard events and three miscellaneous numbers.

A summary of the races follows:

151 Class Hydroplanes (Limited) — 3 Heats, 5 Miles Each
Boat Owner Time Time Time Points
Miss Rioco Ralph Snoddy and James Talbot. Jr. 6:42 6:34:1 6:50:4 600
Miss California Dick Loynes 7:32:2 6:41:1 6:50:4 350
Palm Beach Pup Henry Farnsworth 9:29:2 13:14:2   125
Baby Peerless Chris Reins 7:07:3     100
Best time, 44.9 mph


151 Class Hydroplanes (Unlimited) — 3 Heats, 5 Miles Each
Boat Owner Time Time Time Points
Miss Rioco Ralph Snoddy and James Talbot, Jr. 5:31 5:53 5:31:4 600
Sparrow Elmer H. Johnson 6:23 6:26 9:06 200
Miss California Dick Loynes 5:52   5:54 200
Miss Buckeye Gibson Bradfield 6:38:3 DNF   25
Best time. 54.38 m.p.h.


Bradley Gold Cup — 1 Heat, 21 Miles
Boat Owner Time Points
Miss Okeechobee Mrs. W. J. Conners 29:48 200
Miss Largo II Roland J. Ullmer 32:47 100
Miss Sara-de-Sota Robt. Ringling 34:44 50


Free-for-All Race — 1 heat, 10 miles
Boat Owner Time Points
Miss America V Gar Wood 10:29:2 200
Miss Okeechobee Mrs. W. J. Conners 11:00:4 100
Miss Largo II Roland J. Gilmer DNF  
Miss Tampa C. F. Leach 12:24:2 50
Miss Sara-de-Sota Robt. Ringling DNF  
Others did not finish


Outboard Class B Open — 2 Heats, 2½ Miles Each
Boat Owner Time Time Pants
Bruno Ivan Whipple (Driven by Ed Davis) 5:44 5:41:4 400
Cute Craft Kid Malcolm Pope 6:05:3 6:06:3 200
Caille L. B. Clarke 6:22:1 6:26:4 100


Outboard Class C Open — 2 Heats, 2½ Miles Each
Boat Owner Time Time Points
Curtis de Luxe J. H. and G. H. Curtis 4:43 4:50 400
Blue Diamond C. H. Fay 4:46 4:50:1 200
Baby Winter Haven Malcolm Pope 4:56   50


OUTBOARD B 1928 — 1 heat, 2½ Miles
Boat Owner Time Time Points
Blue Diamond C. H. Fay 4:34:4 4:44:.3 250
Baby Whale P. D. Harkan (Driven by Travis Chestnut) 5:01 4:19:3 200
Curtis de Luxe J. H. and G. H. Curtis 5:07 4:36 250


OUTBOARD B 1928 — 1 heat, 2½ Miles
Boat Owner Time Points
Bruno Ivan Whipple 5:33 200
Cute Craft Kid Malcolm Pope 6:01:3 100
Caille L. B. Clarke 6:18 50


(Reprinted from Yachting, April 1928, pp.85-86)