1953 John E. Fite Memorial Marathon

Gatter's Beaver II Triumphs as Fite Memorial Race Is Marred by Wind, Rain

Special to The New York Times

OCEAN CITY, N. J., May 30 [1953] — Repeating the victory of a year ago and under almost the same rigid bad weather conditions, Gene Gatter of Germantown, Pa., in his 27-foot Ventnor-built displacement speed boat Beaver II today won the annual John E. Fite Memorial forty-three-mile marathon, sponsored by the Ocean City Yacht Club, to usher in the inboard speed racing season on northern waterways.

Today it took Beaver 53 Minutes 49 seconds in the sloppy going with rain beating into the faces of Gatter and his mechanic, George (Murph) Miller of Longport, N. J.

Beaver, with its 1,700 horsepower Packard motors, holds the world record for the Class K inboard runabouts at 69.438 miles per hour.

Present today was Gibson Bradfield of Barnesville, Ohio, president of the American Powerboat Association. He receives a commemorative plaque from the Ocean City Y.C. race committee, headed by Harry J. Bellwoar Jr., a former commodore.

Boland, Adams in Crew

Runner-up this afternoon was a new lapstrake Jersey seaskiff, Suds, owned by William D. Clayton, the Freehold potato-growing magnate and crewed by John Boland of Port-au-Peck, driver, and Ken Adams, Red Bank banker, mechanic. On its first regatta trial and outclassed by Beaver's tremendous power, Suds covered the course in 56.54 m. p. h.

Of the nine entrants in the race only five finished the tricky, circuitous course that had rough going just inside the ocean inlet and then on the westward run and return voyage along Great Egg Harbor River that took the bedraggled skippers past Sunshine Park. James W. Rice's 135-cubic-inch class Big Expense sank near the Suds, weighted down with extra fuel tanks in the bow. Arthur B. Rasner's Redhead II of Philadelphia had a split keel. Pepper Pot III, piloted by Harry Richter for Bill Ammann, broke down.

Sooy Scores in Heat

After the long marathon the program called for two heats for the 136-cubic inch class but only one heat was attempted because of rain, wind and waves. The winner of the five-mile test was Richard Sooy of Pleasantville, N. J., in Double Eagle II ahead of Mrs. Ruby Scull of Ventnor, N. J. in Wee Mite.


  Boat Driver
1 Beaver II Gene Gatter
2 Suds John Boland
3 Aleath II John Creager
4 Pokey G. Fred Rexon
5 Lil Apple Fenton C. Appleby

[Reprinted from the New York Times, May 31, 1953]