1949 Harwood Trophy
Hudson, East and Harlem Rivers, New York City, September 11, 1949
Around Manhattan Island
Band leader, restaurateur and hydroplane driver Guy Lombardo took on a new role late last year. The old master had found a student, not a musician but an aspirant to the fine art of driving a motor boat at better than a mile a minute. The student's name was George Sarant, and while he had never had any experience in boat racing he was willing to learn. Lombardo, on the other hand, was willing to impart sound advice to his Freeport, Long Island, neighbor. The advice apparently paid off, for Sarant roared home at sixty-four miles an hour to beat Lombardo in the annual Harwood Trophy Race around Manhattan Island on September 11.
It took Sarant just 27 minutes and 14 seconds to cover the twenty-eight mile course around Manhattan, record time which eclipsed the speed set last year by Wild Bill Cantrell of Louisville, Kentucky. Sarant's Unlimited class Allison powered hydroplane, Etta, roared over the starting line on the Hudson River off Riverside Park with a fleet of thirty-three inboard hydroplanes and runabouts.
At the Battery Sarant found himself in competition with Lombardo at the wheel of Tempo VI and Joe Van Blerck, winner of the 1947 Harwood's Trophy, driving his seven liter hydroplane Aljo.
Etta, with Tempo VI close astern, headed up the East River and past Welfare Island where Lombardo closed the gap, finally overtaking Sarant and holding the lead through the more protected waters of the Harlem River.
At Spuyten Duyvil, which connects the Harlem and the Hudson Rivers, Lombardo increased his lead by twenty-five yards and led Etta into the Hudson. The heavy chop and roll of the Hudson made slow going for the three point Tempo, while Sarant turned on the heat with the single step Etta, a heavier craft able to with-stand considerable pounding.
At the George Washington Bridge Sarant opened his throttle and overtook Lombardo, establishing a lead which he held until he roared past the Coast Guard cutter Tamaroa which served as committee boat. Lombardo, who finished second with an average speed of 61 miles an hour, was followed by Van Blerck, who covered the single lap around Manhattan at an average speed of 59.9 miles an hour.
Luck ran out for thirteen skippers of the thirty-three who started the race, some being forced from the running with motor troubles, others with opened planking from excess pounding. Leston Cloak, president of the American Inboard Association, which is sponsor of Harwood's Trophy Race, abandoned his attempt to secure the sterling silver bowl after his E Racing Runabout Pancho sprang a leak. A veteran of Hudson River motor boating, Cloak made his first Around Manhattan Island race in 1912.
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