1908 Willamette Motor-Boat Club Regatta
Portland, Oregon, June 21, 1908

Fast Motorboats in First Regatta
Silver Heels, Rochester and Happy Heinie Winners in Speed Events
Large Fleet of Small Craft Gathers on River to Witness Races Held by Willamette Motor-Boat Club

Motorboat Races Today
Fast Motorboats in First Regatta

Motor boat racing on the Willamette River is another of the aquatic sports that has come to stay. No better proof of this is needed than the presence of the exceptionally large fleet that was on hand yesterday afternoon to take part in the first big motor boat race held by the Willamette Motor Boat Club. At the starting point, just above Captain Bundy's baths, the river was literally alive with motor boats of all classes and descriptions, and these, together with a dozen or more of the sailors from the Yacht Club fleet and row boats gave the scene a most animated appearance.

Because the races were the first held under the auspices of the club and because the game was new to most of the club members there was some delay and confusion in getting the first bunch of starters away. The officials were quick to note the mistakes and when it came time to send off the second set of boats the trick was done with clock-like precision.

Tears Hole in Boat

Mr. Lacey had entered his new boat in the scratch ten-mile race and it was to have been the first serious try-out, but during the warming up process a nut loosened on the engine and a part of the gear tore a hole in the boats. Fortunately for Mr. Lacey he was close to shore when this happened and he was able to reach a landing in safety, but not before he had shipped a great deal of water. The race was to have been between the Vixen and the Wolf, both boats having been built by Mr. Wolf. Mr. Lacey's boat certainly looks the part of a racer. it is constructed on speed lines and equipped with the engines.

There was a genuine surprise in the first race, a ten-minute handicap contest over a course of two miles. The boats started in this race, but owing to the confusion in starting some of them were away badly and some started without waiting for the signal from Dr. F. R. Dammasch, who did the starting. Owing to the difference in time of the handicap no two of the boats were close together at the finish, but the crowd was delighted when a bit of a toy motor boat, highly patriotic in its coloring of red, white and blue, called the Silver Heels, driven by Allen Burdeck, crossed the line a winner, making the two miles in 18:28. Within a few seconds another boat, about the same size, called the Honey Boy, crossed the line and was placed second. The Venus was third.

Ainsworth Boat Wins

J. C. Ainsworth's Rochester, one of the handsomest motor boats on the river, won the four-mile event. The same boat was entered in the eight-mile race, but the engine became cranky and the driver lost several minutes cooling his engine. In this race all three of the boats were close up at the finish, the Rochester, driven by Harry Hall, crossing the line about 8 seconds ahead of the Mercedes, driven by Henry Larsen. The Happy Heinie was third. The racing time of the Rochester over the four-mile course was 26 minutes and 9 seconds.

The Happy Heinie, driven by Otto Raft, furnished the excitement and proved the winner of the eight-mile race. During the races the Happy Heinie, with a noise like a rapid-firing gun, tore up and around the starting point, to the delight of the crowd, and no one was surprised to see the boat do all kinds of fancy stunts in the finish of the eight-mile race. They did not realize, however, that the engine of the Happy Heinie had torn itself loose and was trying to jump overboard and get a rest. Yet this was so, and but for a lot of racing luck and courage, the boat would have finished.

Boat Makes Mad Finish

When the racers were sighted from the finishing point, the Sterling was in the lead, with the Happy Heinie and the Kittie close up. Suddenly the Happy Heinie was seen to shoot out the course and into the middle of the river and then duck and dodge like a football player. Finally the boat was headed for the finish, and in spite of losing so much ground, finished in front of the Sterling by several lengths. It was not until Ranft got his boat to the judges' stand that it was discovered what had bothered the driver. The boat was so badly out of commission that it had to be towed back home. The feat of finishing with a disabled boat of the Happy Heinie type, going at top speed, was a game performance.

When the Wolf was put out of commission, the Vixen started for an exhibition trial. The boat was in the charge of Mrs. Wolf, and would have made fast time over the eight-mile course but for the fact that Mrs. Wolf found it necessary to slow on on account of driftwood in the channel. The Vixen covered the eight miles in 32 minutes and 42 seconds.

The officials of the races were: Dr. E. H. Dammasch, starter; George Kinnear, formerly commodore of the Pittsburgh Motor Boat Club; A. Flemming and Robert Obertuesser, judges, and L. M. Myer, timer.

(Transcribed from the Morning Oregonian, June 22, 1908, p. 4.)

[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page. —LF]

Hydroplane History Home Page
This page was last revised Thursday, April 01, 2010 .
Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. Email us at wildturnip@gmail.com
Leslie Field, 2001