1932 President's Cup - Gold Cup Class

The President's Cup Regatta

By George W. Sutton, Jr.

Anyone in search of material for a comedy of errors would have found this President's Cup Regatta a fine offering. The Washington committee of the Corinthian Yacht Club and the Chesapeake and Potomac Power Boat Association functioned long, laboriously and efficiently. The night before the race a vast committee of experienced American Power Boat Association officials arrived from Detroit, Florida, New York and way stations to assist the local committeemen, who have become experts after five runnings of this important affair.

Came the dawn, with perfect weather to whet the appetite of ten or fifteen thousand people for a two-day program of 29 assorted motor boat events for which sufficient entries had been received to ensure the keenest kind of competition among some of the best drivers of the Atlantic seaboard.

The first day passed off peacefully, in fact. a bit too peacefully. The first heat of the President's Cup race revealed only three starters out of the six Gold Cup boats in commission this year, of the 17 or so available. The races for Classes A and B outboards caused no heart attacks among the spectators and the runabouts and "125" hydroplanes jogged around in parade-like fashion, with little in the way of real competition. But the second day, Saturday. September 17th promised excitement — numerous big league entries for Classes C and F outboard divisions and two possibly exciting heats of the President's Cup race itself.

In the Friday heat of the President's Cup there appeared at the starting line only three boats — the two-year-old Delphine V, owned and driven by Horace E. Dodge; the eight-year-old Delphine IV, formerly Solar Plexus, owned by Mr. Dodge but driven by Bill Horn, which now holds the Gold Cup; and the ten-year-old El Lagarto, born Lady Mary, owned and operated by George Reis. The start was perfect. Delphine V, with a 24-cylinder Duesenberg engine and an internationally designed hull of great beauty, after turning in an amazing 39-mile performance in Detroit and showing great promise in the first mile or so of this race, developed trouble due to a jammed starter and was out of it, although she did not actually stop running until the fourth lap. To the surprise of everybody, El Lagarto, with a crankshaft for her Packard Gold Cup motor borrowed from Sam Dunsford's Scotty Too, took the situation in hand in the first few feet of the race and completely turned the tables on Delphine IV, finishing 300 yards ahead. Everything seemed set for a real duel between these two on Saturday.

For the first event, the class C amateur, only two drivers were ready at the starting gun. A couple of others came out and joined the procession, but to little avail. In the second event, Class C professionals, only one driver kept his eye on his watch with sufficient intentness to appear when the starting gun fired. This was Gerald Reed, of Suffolk, Va. Bob Snadecki, of Westover, Va., and James Baden, of Washington, sauntered down to the starting line, tied up to a buoy and idly watched Reed go 'round and 'round. Presently they were joined by half a dozen other professional experts, one of whom, C. Mulford Scull, of Ventnor, N. J., got the idea that perhaps Reed was not just fooling out there, and just as the finish gun sounded for Reed's lonely victory. Scull started out around the course. followed by the other bewildered outboarders. The committee flagged them off the course, and C. F. Chapman, the chairman, notified them, via megaphone, that the next start would be for the second heat of Class C, Division I. The professionals acknowledged this information verbally and by sign language and then four of their number proceeded to start in the amateur division, and did not regain consciousness until they had gone the entire five-mile distance. Anyhow, it made an exciting looking race, which was won by S. C. Hardy, Jr., with Lewis Carlisle, second.

Just before the start of the expected two remaining heats of the President's Cup race two disconsolate figures appeared on the committee boat and sat down to watch the event. They were Horace E. Dodge and George Reis. The former's boat, it was found, could not be fixed up sufficiently to run and George Reis announced that the borrowed crankshaft of El Lagarto, had snapped in the warming up process just before the race. Therefore Bill Horn, accompanied by his Sunday School teacher mechanic, Charles Grafflin, wandered about the course at an average speed of about 40 miles an hour all alone. The committee, then decided to call the first heat and give the Presidents Cup to Delphine IV.

(Reprinted from ???, ? 1932, pp.57, 80)