THE SPORT AFLOAT.
THE BRITISH INTERNATIONAL TROPHY
THE KAYE DON-GAR 1 ’00D INC7DENT
IN spite of the fact that the public press had front page news from the formation of the National Government, much of this important space was given over to the Gar Wood—Kaye Don affair, and the whole business has generally paraded before the eyes of the world, whose opinion seems to be, that while we played the game according to the rules of sportsmanship, America played just within the letter of the written rules. Over the incident we have accepted much international praise, and we must be careful, therefore, to avoid increased glory from a crime which was not as heinous as it was painted. Those opinions I have heard uttered by members of the general public outside the sport of motor boat racing while being unanimous in their condemnation of the American entry, are widely divergent as to the real reason that enabled Kaye Don to be tricked. Many also hold the opinion that Gar Wood endangered the life of Don by being responsible for Miss England II overturning. Here it should be stated definitely that our boat going over was merely the luck of the game, and the place where she overturned was over two miles from the starting line where the only tricking occurred. The films of the race taken at the turn when Miss England II overturned, show that Kaye Don was not even in the wash of Miss America IX, but in unbroken water when the skid occurred which Kaye Don could not hold. It was bad luck for Gar Wood that Don should have gone over, for had Miss England II finished both she and Miss America IX would have been disqualified for making an early start and Kaye Don would have seen to it that he was not led up the garden in the third heat. No one has yet troubled to explain to the public the
method employed for the start of motor boat races. What happens is this a gun goes 5 minutes before the start is due to take place and from then on competitors have to time themselves. What is usually done is for a stop watch to be started the moment the 5 minute gun fires. The task before each of the competitors is to time himself to cross the line at full throttle at the moment of the firing of the starting gun. If a boat crosses the line early it is penalised to nullify any advantage she may have gained : more than 5 secs. early spells a disqualification. And so to the races themselves.
The First Heat.
The first heat for the British International Trophy was run off on Sunday, September 6th. Kay Don showed his ability early by crossing the line dead on time, 6.30 p.m., and about 44 lengths ahead of the first American boat, Miss America IX, piloted by Gar Wood. George Wood, at the helm of Miss America VIII, followed a further two lengths behind and it was obvious from the start that the three boats had crossed the line in the order of their speeds. Admittedly the Misses America had wash with which to contend but even towards the end of the race when Miss England II was sufficiently ahead to leave smooth water, Gar Wood could not close the gap between the two boats. George Wood’s driving, although always precise, showed that he was conscious of having the slowest boat. At the end of the first lap of 5 nautical miles, Don had put his lead up to about 300 yards. At the end of the third lap Don was about 4 a mile to the good and barring accidents the results of heat one was a foregone conclusion. There were no accidents. Both the American boats were
slightly faster on the two acute bends but Miss England II’s excessive speed on the straight more than compensated for the slight loss in turning. It is stated that Miss England II was not at any time flat out, her speed down the straight mile being about 103 m.p.h. (land miles). For the last two of the six laps Kaye Don eased the boat back a little and thus brought his average well inside the limits of the boat, but nevertheless he was more than a mile ahead of Miss America IX. For the 30 nautical miles Don averaged 89.91 land miles per hour, but showed his capabilities in the second lap with a speed of 93.02 m.p.h. I suppose the supercharging of Miss America IX’s Packard must be somewhat of a disappointment to Gar Wood for the boat was only about 5 m.p.h. faster, and this boat’s best lap, although driven to the limit, was under the average of Miss England II for the race. Gar Wood averaged 87.4 m.p.h. and a surprise was afforded when Miss America VIII returned a speed less than two miles an hour slower in spite of her tmsupercharged engines. George Wood went round at 85.86 m.p.h.
About half a million people witnessed the race from the Detroit waterfront, and they, to a tnan, showed true sportsmanship in their applause at Kaye Don’s victory, and the cheering could be heard for miles. It is indeed a pity that this sporting crowd should have their country let down in the eyes of the world by what was really a childish trick with serious results. Gar Wood should have remembered that a man in a public position may not do as he pleases, and he should be doubly jealous of his country’s reputation if careless of his own. The second race of the series was due to start at the same hour as the previous race, on Monday, 7th September. A little time before the race was due to start Gar Wood asked for a postponement of three quarters of an hour on account of a leaking petrol tank. Kaye Don was consulted and he refused because there ,were:two Ameri
can boats against him. In this act I consider that Don might have been more gracious, for his excuse is essentially weak, for he had only one rival in speed. But I condemn the orgnaisers most of all, for this decision should never have rested in the hands of one of the competitors. Had the responsible body made the decision no bad blood would have been engendered, and from knowledge of Gar Wood in previous sporting events I think it a safe bet that a perfectly clean start would have been made. As it was Gar Wood traded on his reputation for accuracy and crossed the line ‘9 secs. ahead of the starting gun. It was a distinct gamble whether Don would follow him, but Don, instead of relying on the accuracy of his own timing, assumed himself late, and started off in pursuit. No rules were broken by Gar Wood but by his action he merely won on a little trick of psychology and the whole idea of a race for the world’s fastest motor boat goes by the board. Thus from the start the race was nothing more than a fiasco. At the first turn Don tried to hold his boat to too small a radius curve in order to keep inside his opponent ; at once% violent and hopeless skid occurred, the chine dug into the water, and in a second the boat was over. Patrol boats rushed to the spot and until it was announced that Kaye Don and his two mechanics, Garner and Platford were unhurt, there were some anxious moments for the public who had memories of Windermere. Miss England II sank in a few moments, and when she was raised late on Tuesday evening it was found that the hull and machinery were badly damaged, and it is not decided yet whether the boat will be recommissioned. Lord Wakefield has, however, announced his intention of building a new boat for the trophy races to be held next year.
Mr. Chas. F. Chapman, for the Royal Motor Yacht Club, and W. D. Edenburn., for the American sport, who were the two judges for the races, declared that under the authority conferred upon it (the International Commission)-the match should be ruled out.—F.M.