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How Dixie II got its name…
Tuan Anh Sym 2013/06/13 0 comments 12285 viewed
This is a story of the greatest motorboat race the world has ever known, of a contest that was won by sheer pluck of brave me..
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How Dixie II got its name…

This is a story of the greatest motorboat race the world has ever known, of a contest that was won by sheer pluck of brave men.  It is a story that will survive forever in the history of marine sports.

On August 3, 1908, the Harmsworth Trophy contenders included five boats.  The deed of gift limiting each country to three entries.

The challenger Wolseley-Siddeley, with her powerful hull coated in blue-gray and the Union Jack of Great Britain on the pole at her stern,  has two six-cylinder Wolseley engines totaling 400 hp.  She was 39 feet 6 inches long.  The maximum cup racing length had to be under 40 feet. 

Dixie II - a legendary racing boat from 1900s

England also sent over Daimler II. Daimler II was about four inches longer than  Wolseley and equipped with three eight-cylinder engines, totaling 525 hp, a wonderful bunch of power in a compact-looking hull. She carried the British man o' war flag.

The two other boats were Den, owned by Commodore Joseph H. Hoadley of the Motorboat Club of America, equipped with an 80 horse power engine, and U.S.A., owned by Capt. John Sheppard of the Riverton Yacht Club.  Equipped with two Chadwick engines.  She was champion of America as she lay there.

Captain S. Bartley Pearce who steered the Dixie I to victory in England last year commanded the Dixie II.  Hundreds of admiring eyes looked upon him.  In the Dixie was also the engineer Albert Rappuhn who was in the old winner Dixie.  He never left the engine for a moment except to help Capt. Pearce out of his rubber poncho.

Captain S. Bartley Pearce was a patriotic man. he was asked what flag he would fly, that the Dixie might be recognized easily. "An American flag, sir," he replied. "I flew it in England and I'll fly it here."

The original Dixie, launched in the spring of 1905, was designed by Clinton H. Crane. Built at a cost of $15,000 and powered by a 150 horsepower engine, it was roughly 30 feet long. Its owner E. R. Thomas raced the boat just a few times and then sold it to E. J. Schroeder for a reported $10,000. Even though Dixie was regarded as the fastest American motorboat in 1905, it was speculated Thomas wanted a faster boat.

Thomas’ decision to name his new boat “Dixie” is a charming and romantic tale. His third wife was a Tennessee beauty by the name of Linda Lee and as a tribute to her southern heritage, he named the boat “Dixie.” She was equipped with an eight-cylinder totaling 200 hp Crane & Whitman engine. The beautiful Dixie II, with her bright varnished mahogany marred by two hideous mufflers, temporarily attached to fulfill the regulations under which the race was held.

As the race started, Dixie was first across the line, 14 seconds after the signal. Behind her started Den, three seconds later.  Then came Daimler II and Wolseley-Siddeley, close together, and finally the U.S.A., 41 seconds after the signal.

Dixie had ten seconds better of the Wolseley on the start.  It was a marvelous sight, those five boats off on a 30-knot race to decide the championship of the world's greatest nations.  As they dashed away, they were five little dots dwindling in the distance, but the volume of white spray shooting yards to either side of the boats denoted their positions to the spectators.

When the racers came toward the finish of the first lap, Dixie in the lead.  No one could tell which boat was ahead until the leader came opposite Target Rock.  Then those who were familiar with her could tell it was Dixie by the character of her bow wave, as compared to the larger wave of the Wolseley.  Her time was 21 m. 35 s. for the lap.

The Wolseley-Siddeley rushed by 47 seconds behind.  Then came U.S.A., 25:16 and then Den, 26:55.  By the time Den passed the leaders were well off on the first leg of the second lap.

Daimler II was going like a streak and seemed to be overhauling Dixie II.  Then, just after turning the second mark, a piston in one of her starboard engines seized, breaking a connecting rod.

On the second lap, Wolseley-Siddeley was reducing Dixie's lead.  On this round Dixie covered the course in 22:16, Wolseley in 21:55, and there was just 16 seconds between them.  Captain Pearce was watching his opponent.  He would glance ahead and then aft. U.S.A. and Den were now away behind, but still going well, and ready to do their part, should anything happen to the leaders.

A wooden model of Dixie II

On the last lap, as the boats rounded the first turn, Dixie was still leading by about the same distance.  Suddenly, as the leaders neared the last turn, a cry went up from those who were watching with glasses.

"Great guns! The Dixie's jumping away from her. He's let her out! He's let her out!"

When Rappuhn felt himself losing consciousness, just before the turn of the last mark, he instinctively opened the throttle to its limit.  It was then that Dixie jumped ahead.  For four miles or more Pearce ran that boat and held up the helpless man, shaking him and throwing water on his head.  For four miles he held Dixie on her course with one thought on his mind: to cross the line.

Dixie was now far in the lead.  The trophy was safe unless some miracle happened, and no one knew then how nearly something did happen.

The unconscious engineer had been overcome by the carbon monoxide gas from the mufflers.  A run around the harbor revived him.  As soon as his lungs filled with the fresh air, he recovered almost completely.  The engineer ran over and threw his arms about his captain. Pearce threw back his head. "Old boy, we won the race, you and me, didn't we?"

Dixie won the race with her engine turning 750 r.p.m. whereas it was capable of turning her propeller at 950.  She was only of half the power of the Wolseley and went into the race with her 200-hp. against the Wolseley with 400, and the Daimler with 525.  Her hull design played a great role in the victory.

Dixie's average speed for her actual running time was 28 nautical miles per hour, equivalent to 32.15 statute miles. This is the fastest time ever made in a motorboat race in this country.  Dixie is indeed the fastest motorboat in the world. 

At the end of the same month, she get the Gold Cup over the Saint Laurent, as well as the 2 following editions in 1909 and 1910. 


Added 2013/06/13 Author: Tuan Anh Sym
How Dixie II got its name…

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