A Century of Gold Cup Racing

A Century of Gold Cup Racing

by Fred Farley, Ron Harsin


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2004 Celebrates 100 years of racing for the Gold Cup - The Crown Jewel of Hydroplane Racing.

Fred Farley, the Official APBA Hydro-Prop Unlimited Historian, and Ron Harsin, have written this excellent account of the history of the Gold Cup which had its start in 1904. In those early days, the boats ran at the Blistering Speed of 24 mph. Today's Unlimited Hydroplanes - The Thunderboats - set the Water on Fire at over 200 mph!

These pages contain over one hundred black & white photographs, many of which have never been published. It is also the first known record of the races to have all the drivers' and owners' name correctly listed for each race.

After 100 years of racing you can finally own the definitive book of this truly thrilling, yearly event!


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781892216526
Publisher: Bristol Fashion Publications
Publication date: 05/01/2004
Pages: 228
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.48(d)

Read an Excerpt

1904 GOLD CUP (June)
Hudson River, NY
Driver: Carl Riotte
Owners: Carl & Eugene Riotte
Average: 23.160

The very first Gold Cup race took place on the Hudson River in New York. In those days, the boats plowed through the water rather than skim over the surface of it. The heat races had more to do with today's Offshore tradition, consisting of 16 nautical miles up and down the Hudson, turning at Piermont.

The winning boat, STANDARD, won all three heats and defeated Frank Seaman in WATER LILY and C.H. Tangeman in FIAT II. Measuring 59 feet in length with an 8-1/2-foot beam, STANDARD used a 6-cylinder 110-horsepower Standard motor that resembled a miniature steam engine with its steel columns and open frame. The motor was to gain wide acceptance in the marine industry.

1904 GOLD CUP (September)

Hudson River, NY


Driver: C. M. Hamilton

Owner: Willis Kilmer

Average: 24.900

For the first, and only time, in Gold Cup history, two races were run in the same calendar year. VINGT-ET-UN II, a displacement boat, won the second 1904 Gold Cup, which was run on the same race course as the first.

Ten boats entered that year. VINGT-ET-UN II rebounded from a fifth-place finish in Heat One by taking the top spot in the next two heats to claim the victory. Powered by a Simplex engine, VINGT-ET-UN II's best heat was just over 25 miles per hour.

This was definitely in the days before commercial sponsorships. In 1904, boats carried names such as FLIP, SHOOTING STAR, CHALLENGER and JOSEPHINE.


St. Lawrence River, NY


Driver: Herb Leighton

Owner: JonathonWainwright

Average: 15.000

After the first two contests in the New York City area, the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York became the Gold Cup locale from 1905 to 1913.

Starting in 1905, a handicap system was utilized which took into account each boat's power and size. The use of this system enabled CHIP, driven by Herb Leighton and representing the Chippewa Bay Yacht Club, to win the race on corrected time, even though CHIP was the next-to-slowest boat in the 9-boat fleet.

The boat with the fastest uncorrected time was SHOOTING STAR II, which did around 24 miles per hour.


St. Lawrence River, NY


Driver: Charles Wood

Owner: Jonathon Wainwright

Average: 25.000

The Leighton-powered CHIP II won the 1906 Gold Cup on the basis of corrected time, just as her predecessor had the year before. The winner was fifth in terms of corrected time in the 12-boat starting field.

Jonathon Wainwright, the winning owner, was a cousin of General Wainwright, commander at Corregidor during World War II.

The 1906 Gold Cup was a competitive one with three different boats winning the three, 30 statute mile heats. SPARROW won the first heat, DIXIE I took the second and CHIP II prevailed in the third.

DIXIE I turned the fastest heat of the race at 28.033. This was the first appearance in the Gold Cup series by the DIXIE team, owned by E.J. Schroeder. Much would be heard of the DIXIE boats in the years to come.


St. Lawrence, NY


Driver: Charles Wood

Owner: Jonathon Wainwright

Average: 23.903

CHIP II became the first two-time winning hull in Gold Cup history with her victory in the 1907 race. But the triumph was a hollow one. CHIP II was the next-to-slowest boat on the basis of uncorrected time.

F.G. Bourne's, STRANGER, was faster. However, on the basis of power and length, it was determined to spot CHIP II and DELAWANNA several minutes in the race.

A variety of power sources were used in Gold Cup racing during the first decade. In 1907, CHIP II used a Leighton, DELAWANNA and VINGT-TROIS ran a Fairbanks motor and PIRATE had a Trebert.

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