1964 San Diego Cup

Year of the Green Dragon (excerpt)

by Eileen Crimmin; photos by Bob Carver

The final race of the 1964 season was the newest race on the circuit and braved what unlimiteds had avoided many years, a salt-water course.

The by-now dedicated, inseparable, unalterable 13-boat field trundled to the pits on beautiful Mission Bay. For spectators the course was excellent. For racers the turns were judged a bit tight, water depths a bit shallow.

Speeds were expected high and fulfilled expectations. Exide scorched off a 119.498 mph run to establish the first unlimited record on the course. Eagle Electric managed two 117.647 and 115.384 runs.

Bardahl, Mariner Too, Gale V, Smirnoff, Budweiser and Madison roared around in the 110-112 mph category to impress spectators that unlimiteds were not only big but fast.

By race day Bardahl was a favorite on the basis of previous wins, plus garnering the High Point Championship at Tahoe. Yet it was any boat's race. Every heat proved that premise.

Mariner Too won Heat 1A; Budweiser, 1B and Bardahl, 1C. Madison won Heat 2A, Bardahl 2B and Mariner Too came to the wire as winner of the Final.

It was the Final which proved Bardahl's undoing. Mariner Too won with 1,100 points. Bardahl set a heat record of 113.600; but Bardahl didn't win that all-important Final.

And that was that, not only for the Mission Bay Regatta, but for the entire 1964 unlimited season.

* * *

The San Diego Cup race easily provided the most hair-raising accident of the season. Budweiser driven by Chuck Hickling roared down the back chute, hooked, (it's been a hooking boat all its exalted life) sheared a sponson and sank. Hickling straightened out the hook and tried to accelerate again before he noticed the boat's strange tilt and empty space where sponson should have been. Hickling was rescued unhurt. Budweiser was beached partially sunk and her hulk scavenged by spectators. This unsavory activity should be discussed by the unlimited commission with ideas toward prevention or a recurrence in future.

(Reprinted from the National Boat Racing 1965 Yearbook)