1953 John E. Fite Memorial Marathon

Gatter, Phila. Driver, Wins Speedboat Event

By Frank Bates

Ocean City, N.J., May 30.—Gene Gatter, Philadelphia, today won the Fite Memorial Trophy for the second straight, year in the opening speedboat event of the 1953 season. Gatter drove his 27-foot-6-inch Ventnor-built racer, Beaver II. to victory in the 43-mile inboard marathon, coming from behind to finish first by a wide margin in the annual feature sponsored by the Ocean City Yacht Club.

Gatter, Germantown, had as his mechanic. Longport's George Miller. The craft is powered with a 1700-horsepower Packard motor and is rated as a Class K boat snd covered the 43-mile course (Ocean City to Mays Landing and return» in 53 minutes. 49 seconds, an average speed of 45.5 miles per hour.

Register Slow Time

Exceptionally rough waters and a steady rain greeted the drivers in the long race and provided additional and unexpected handicaps. The time was exceptionally slow for the Beaver because the boat is the present holder of the world’s record in Class K which is 69.438 mph. made here in 1950.

One sunken boat was the Big Expense, driven by James W. Rice. Wilmington, for which Coast Guards were still grappling long after the end of the regatta. Her driver was uninjured, swimming to safety. Damaged were boats owned by two Philadelphia racers and one from Millville. N. J.

One of those damaged was the Medico III, owned and driven by Dr. George Firth, Frankford. Medico led at one stage of the rare and at Mays Landing after the first 21 miles was only a few boat lengths behind the victorious Beaver.

Runs Into Trouble

Medico ran into trouble on the return leg to the yacht club. Dr. Firth was towed ashore.

Joseph E. Stiles. Kensington racer, had a similar though less expensive experience with his E boat Chicraig. Stiles jumped into the lead at the start, but soon dropped far behind and then went out on motor trouble. Wesley Turner’s 136-class racer. Miss Stardust from Millville, was the third boat which had to be towed in by Coast Guards.

Stiles jumped the lead at the start as only 10 of the 24 entries were able to get running. Rain was coming down lightly. Before the boats reached Beasley's Point Bridge. Dr. Firth had taken the lead with Gene Gatter. second and Stiles, third.

Gatter Takes Lead

In the long run to May Landing. Gatter moved in front of Dr. Firth. They were close as they rounded the halfway mark. Pepper Pot, driven by Harry Richter, Philadelphia. and owned by Bill Ammann, Haverford. Pa., dropped out. Gatter then slowed down for the return trip and gained a wide lead on his nearest rivals.

Suds, a Seaskiff, owned by William D. Clayton. Freehold. N.J. and driven by John Boland and Ken Adams nosed in second. Third went to Alcath. owned and driven by Al Credger, Philadelphia, with Gil De Dan as crew.

Pokie II, a 22-foot Chriscraft in Class F from Haddonfield, N. J.. was fourth. The fifth and last boat to finish was Lil Apple, a 136-cubic inch hydroplane owned and driven by Fenton C. Appleby. Millville. The boat won top hydroplane honors for the race being the first and only hydro to finish. Lil Apple limped across the line with a gaping hole in the craft's bottom.

Richard M. Sooy, Pleasantville, won the 136-inch class race staged in one heat. Ruby Scull, Ventnor, was runner-up. Two boats broke down and several others failed to take the starting line in the heavy rain. So adverse were the weather conditions referee Fred H. Hahn cancelled the second heat.

Prior to the races, club, city and national officials took part in the flag-raising ceremonies as the Ocean City YC went into commission for its 55th year.

Fite Memorial Marathon (43 miles, Ocean City io Mays Landing and return) 1. Beaver II, Gene Gatter, Margate, N.J., 52 49; 2. Suds, John Boland, Long Branch, N.J., 56.54; 3. Alcath, Al Creger, Philadelphia. 57.43; 4. Pokie II, G Fred Rexon, Haddonfield, N.J. 1:12.36; 5. Lil Apple Fenton, C. Appleby, Millville, N.J. 1:24 21; Pepperpot III, Harry Richter, Ocean City (did not finish); Big Expense, James W. Race, Wilmington (sank); Chicraig, Joe E. Stiles. Philadelphia (did not finish); Medico II, Dr George Firth, Ocean City (broke down); Miss Stardust, Wesley Turner, Millevale. N.J. (did not finish)

136-Cubic-Inch Class (5 miles): 1. Double Eagle III, Richard M Sooy, Pleasantville. N.J. 6:07- 2. Mickey Mouse, Mrs Ruby Scull, Ventnor, N.J. 6:18; Jay Pee, J. Paul Lllly, Wilmington Del. (did not finish) Maggie V. Jack Cook, Maydel, Del. (broke down).

--- May 31, 1953