1965 Spirit of Detroit Regatta

Spirit of Detroit Regatta

Spirit of Detroit Trophy

Although Miss Bardahl is an odds on favorite in any race, the Spirit of Detroit Regatta Aug. 29 was slated to be won by Notre Dame on the basis of Luck and Performance.

But Luck is a fickle dame. Deserting the national high point leader and second-place finisher in Diamond and Gold Cups, she smiled upon Tahoe Miss, a craft that had won no race since Labor Day 1964 and was so dogged in 1965 by misfortune that in Diamond Cup 1965 she did not start, finish or race a single heat!

Yet, with three first-place finishes Chuck Thompson and Tahoe Miss swept the field to earn 1,200 points and gain the overall trophy. It was no cinch effort, however. The water was tricky and the field evenly matched.

Heat 1A saw the hottest running of the race as Bardahl and U.S. 5 led Savair's Mist and Madison to the first turn. Such Crust was unable to get into the heat due to repair problems.

Within half a lap Madison was in trouble as Bardahl took the lead and U.S. 5 pounded hard after her. Buddy Byers swung Madison across to alert the pits to ready a crane. As Ron Musson slammed Bardahl down the front chute with Roy Duby in U.S. 5 a scant roostertail behind, Byers cut behind them toward the pits and drifted quickly to the sea wall.

At the finish it was Bardahl well ahead with a fastest lap and heat speed of the regatta with 110.921 mph, U.S. 5 second with 101.886 and Savair's Mist close behind with 99.815. What cut Duby's time so drastically was a missed buoy in the upper turn. That he picked it up and still finished second shows the speed of the red, white and blue, red, hot and fast U.S. 5.

Heat 2A was a parade with only one change of position. Blue Chip led Roostertail, Mariner and Savair's Probe to the first turn and through lap one. Lap two saw Mariner slip behind to last place. The remaining laps were run in the foregoing order. By this heat the water was kicking up and what was lacking in racing duels was compensated for by individual boat hazards.

"We were all out of shape at one time or another," commented drivers.

Heat 3C brought on the closest battles of the entire regatta. The field of Notre Dame, Budweiser, Tahoe Miss and Smirnoff slammed past the start and into the first turn as a massed pack with only yards separating them. Tahoe Miss passed Budweiser to take second place, but at the beginning of lap two the field was still closely packed until Smirnoff suddenly lagged far behind.

Meanwhile, Tahoe Miss began the struggle to pass Notre Dame. Thompson tried sneaking up the roostertail but Rex Manchester kept him wide on his hip. Then Thompson cut back and forth behind Notre Dame's tail to disguise his position in an effort to power past Manchester in an unaware moment.

For three laps no strategy worked, but Tahoe Miss gained steadily on Notre Dame. Finally, on lap five in the upper turn, Thompson had Tahoe Miss on the inside. As Manchester straightened Notre Dame for the chute finishing run, Thompson poured coal to Tahoe Miss for a roaring finish. By a boat length it was Tahoe Miss with a speed of 106.508 mph to Notre Dame's 106.090. Both drivers were applauded as they came into the pits.

Budweiser, meanwhile, bogged down in lap three so badly that an equally slow Smirnoff passed her in lap four and the final order of finish was Tahoe Miss, Notre Dame, Smirnoff, 79.763 and Budweiser, 66.914.

Heat 2A brought Madison, Such Crust, Roostertail, Mariner and Savair's Mist to a flashing start that saw Savair's Mist drowned in converging roostertails and floating helplessly in the course. In lap two the final order of finish was established as Bill Muncey driving Such Crust passed Jerry Schoenith in Roostertail, Madison led them both through the remaining four laps and Mariner went dead in the upper turn.

Heat 2B again brought four boats across the start closely bunched and battling for position. In a surprising situation Bardahl went into the first turn last but picked up third spot over Blue Chip in lap two, then second by lap three. Catching Thompson in Tahoe Miss was, however, impossible. Tahoe Miss won at 108.346 mph, Bardahl was second with 103.408; Budweiser, 99.082, and Blue Chip at 96.017.

Heat 2C was a fast parade with U.S. 5 in first at 107.484 mph, Notre Dame second, 104.166; Savair's Probe last with 74.792.

Horace E. Dodge Memorial Race

As points were totaled to determine competitors in the Final Heat, the Horace E. Dodge Memorial Race was run. It gave Budweiser and Chuck Hickling their first unlimited racing win. Such Crust and Bill Muncey were second, Madison and Buddy Byers ran third, followed by Mariner and Warner Gardner, Savair's Probe and Red Loomis; Smirnoff and Bill Cantrell were unable to finish.

Into the Final Heat Tahoe Miss went with two heat wins and 800 points. Bardahl and U.S. 5 were tied with 700; Notre Dame, 600; Blue Chip, 569, and Roostertail, 525.

Surprisingly, there was only one position change from start to finish. But this action generated plenty of excitement. Tahoe Miss led wire to wire. Bardahl was second, temporarily, Notre Dame third, followed by U.S. 5, Blue Chip and Roostertail. For four laps Notre Dame pressured Bardahl until, in the last lap, Notre Dame caught and passed the Green Dragon in the upper turn and dashed triumphantly across the finish in second place.

A less triumphant dash was made by U.S. 5 which powered toward the pits with driver Roy Duby signaling wildly for assistance. As he coasted to the sea wall and stood up it could be seen he was wet to the waist. Within seconds the stern of the boat was awash and within about 15 seconds the entire vessel was under water with only the bow pointing skyward.

A skin diver leaped, attached a line to this bow and saved the boat from the depths and current of the Detroit River.

Overall, Tahoe Miss won the regatta with 1,200 points. Bardahl with 925 was second, Notre Dame with 900 was third; U.S. 5, 869; Blue Chip, 696; Roostertail, 620; Madison, 400.

At the disappointed Bardahl camp a perspiring, grimy Ron Musson was approached by veteran sports reporter George E. Van. "How about a crisp, clear, short, quote Ron?" asked Van.

Musson, stared, blinked and said with a grin, "I lost."

Everyone laughed. But there was to be neither grin nor laughter when, a week later, Musson repeated these same words at the Madison, Indiana, Governor's Cup Regatta.

(Excerpted from "Following the Unlimiteds . . . From Ogden to Madison" by Eileen Crimmin, Boating News, October 1965)