1952 Harwood Trophy

Around Manhattan at a Mile-a-Minute

Motor Boat Cover
Motor Boat Cover

Not content with paving provided the Albany-New York marathon contenders with a rough day in August, the old Hudson River played a repeat performance on the day selected for the ‘Round Manhattan race for the Harwood Trophy, on September 7. While the day was a lovely, cool. early fall day over-head, a mean 25-mile north wind served to stir up the waters of the Hudson and East Rivers to such an extent that about half of the entrants were unable to finish.

This race, intended for numerous classes of inboard runabouts and hydroplanes, is conducted annually by the American Inboard Association. It is sponsored by Harwood Distilleries of Canada who generously provide for the prizes and other incidental costs of running such a race. The 29-mile tour around Manhattan Island can be accomplished in far more comfort and considerably less hazard in a few hours' time on board one of the several sight-seeing boats which make several trips each day. When you cover this course in a fast runabout or hydroplane in about a half hour, you certainly do not have any comfort.

The Hudson, East, and Harlem Rivers are notorious for the great quantities of driftwood on their surfaces, despite the best efforts of the U. S. Army Engineers in attempting to remove this debris. They might as well try to stop the current as to combat the never-ending supply of drift. A Coast Guard 83-foot cutter was used as the committee boat and anchored in the stream off 72nd Street. The pits were located on shore at this point where two mobile cranes hoisted the boats into the river and then back on their trailers as they finished. They did not have as big a job getting them back for the rough water served to put most of the smaller boats out of action.

The driftwood encountered on the way pushed through the bottoms of some and bent the propellers of others. Out of the twenty-two which started, only twelve succeeded in completing the course in the two-hour time allotted. Speeds of those which completed the course are climbing steadily and the first to finish, a big 22-year-old Gar Wood runabout, owned by Bill Leiber and Jack Kraemer of Port Washington, made the 29-mile circuit in 29:10 at a speed of 59.8 m.p.h. which is practically a mile a minute.

This same boat a year ago also won the race, but her speed on that occasion was six miles an hour less, or 54.2 m.p.h. The difference is due to changes which were made in the bottom of the boat so that the big Allison engine could be opened up more with a marked improvement in speed. This big runabout, so large that it is never transported overland by truck or trailer, restricts its racing activities to the Harwood race.

The owners and drivers normally run the boat for pleasure trips with their families, and since it is an easy run from Port Washington to the Hudson River, they can reach the scene of the race under their own steam. Being such an able craft, the rough water which bothered the little fellows did not trouble them at all. They were able to run wide open all the time to repeat their victory of a year ago. For them it was a pleasant and profitable afternoon's ride as they were awarded the handsome Harwood Bowl and a $1000 savings bond.

The second boat to finish was the big runabout Hel-Pat owned jointly by Lou Eppel, president of the American Inboard Association and Roy S. Foyle, which normally runs on Lake Hopatcong, N. J. They were in a bit of trouble as a supposedly high grade flexible gasoline line had split up near the George Washington Bridge and while the fuel pump continued to supply the engine, it at the same time sprayed Lou liberally with several gallons of gasoline per minute and a lot of it got into the bilge. They continued to run until they had crossed the finish line and then shut off the engine as quickly as they could.

Right on top of Hel-Pat was another big runabout named Jennie Lee II, owned by Richard R. Lovett of Margate, N. J. The sudden stoppage of Hel-Pat at the line and the fact that they continued to run and passed Hel-Pat immediately after, led them to believe that they had beaten Hel-Pat and since the official result did not agree with their opinion, they lodged a protest on this point which will have to be considered later. As the official decision awarded second place to Hel-Pat and third place to Jennie Lee, the final placing must await the hearing on the protest.

Following closely on the heels of the first three to come in was Beaver It owned by Gene Gatter and George K. Miller, Margate. N. J., an unlimited class runabout. Finishing fourth, she secured third place in Group 1, her average speed being 47.2 m.p.h. Miller acted as driver with Gatter as mechanic.

First of the little boats was a 135 cubic inch hydroplane called Half-Fast owned by Al L. Kirwan of Fort Lauderdale, Florida„ a took a heavy beating around the rough course and did well to finish at 43½ m.p.h. Some of the others in this group came to grief in the rough going and one of these little craft had the starboard sponson ripped completely off the boat.

A Courageous Mechanic

The experiences of the last boat to finish before the expiration of the two-hour time limit are noteworthy. This boat, called Medico III, a class F runabout, owned by Dr. George E. Firth of Philadelphia, was doing nicely until it encountered some Hudson River drift up near the George Washington bridge. The propeller was bent and the mechanic, Robert Maddison, went overboard in the river, removed the propeller, climbed back aboard, and hammered it back into a reasonable facsimile of its proper shape. She started again and soon after struck something else, this time crumpling the wheel for good. Maddison went overboard again, removed the wheel and replaced it with a cruising type propeller which they had with them. On this they completed the run. Not only is the feat of removing the wheel several times while working under water an example of stamina, but to venture into the filthy water of the Hudson called for even greater fortitude.

Among the unfortunate drivers who lost their boats by sinking after puncturing the bottom, was Leston Cloak, former president of the American Inboard Association. He prides himself on having started in every around Manhattan race ever run, beginning as far back as 1912. His class E runabout Pancho was doing nicely and near the Battery something hit the bottom and punched a hole clean through. Water immediately started to fill the boat so Les headed for shore and both he and his mechanic, a young newspaper camera-woman, managed to scramble out before the boat sank, and without getting completely wet. A marker buoy was secured to the boat before it disappeared beneath the river. He is particularly anxious to recover his tool-box which contains many of his pet tools.

Winners in some of the other classes competing included Slo-Poke in group IV owned by James Camp of Newark, N. J. There were no finishers in group II, the larger 7-liter, 266 and 225 hydroplanes. The old Gold Cup hydroplane Etta recently purchased by Charles Klein of Atlantic Beach, rechristened Chaz and now Allison-powered, was giving the winner Davy Jones some hot competition while they ran up the East River. In the vicinity of the Navy Yard, however, Chaz went out of business, leaving the race to Davy Jones which won without mishap.

—F. W. Horenburger

Harwood's Trophy Race Around Manhattan
September 7, 1952 29 miles
  Boat and Driver Elapsed Time M.P.H.
1 Davy Jones, Bill Leiber, Port Washington, L. I. 29:10:00 59.3
2 Hel-Pat, Lou Eppel, Cedar Grove, N. J. ... 35:20:00 49.2
3 Jennie Lee II, Richard R. Lovett, Margate, N. J. 35:22:00 49.2
4 Beaver II, George K. Miller, Margate, N. J. 36:50:00 47.5
5 Half-Fast, Al L. Kirwan, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 39:40:00 43.5
6 Minit-Man, Chuck Hickman, Philadelphia, Pa... 42:15:00 41.2
7 Pepper-Pot III, Bill Ammann, Philadelphia, Pa. 44:25:00 39.2
8 Hornet, George Reynolds, Brockville. Ont 59:20:00 29.3
9 Slo-Poke, James Camp, Newark, N. J 59:26:00 29.3
10 The Fox, Sam Griffith. Miami, Fla 1:21:50 21.3
11 Baby June, Frank S. DuBeshter, Jamaica, N. Y. 1:25:46 20.2
12 Medico III, Dr. George E. Firth, Philadelphia. 1:28:25 19.6

(Reprinted from Motor Boat, October 1952)