Oshkosh Yacht Club's new clubhouseoverflows with spectators in 1903-- a typical showing during ILYA Regatta Week.
In 1899, the Annual Regatta moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where preparations for the event were a city-wide concern…
The Curious Case of the Harpoon
Harpoon disappointed her owner, James A. Kimberly, from the start, according to one man who would come to know her quite well: Neenah-Nodaway historian James C. Kimberly. When the boat was delivered in 1899 from Gene Ramaley, her White Bear builder, James A. turned from the flatcar and refused even to unload her. His son, James C., took the boat, with his father's permission, to the Menasha Boat Works, where the enterprising young man took out seven inches of bulge in her belly, reducing her draft to about four inches. Then, remarkably, he moved the mast toward the newly extended stern and put the rudder in the bow, turningher end for end. Although James C. claimed these "operations" improved her, he admitted that Harpoon, sailing backward, "was never a match for the faster yachts."
Dr. Thomas A. Hodgson
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Copyright 1997 Thomas A. Hodgson
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|The regatta would open on Monday with the Felker Cup, and into the rest of the week was scheduled such a blur of activity that the Oshkosh Times headlined its description "The Pace That Kills." Excursions were scheduled for every morning, and afternoon racing was followed by social galas, trolley rides, and a special train to the Ringling Bros. Circus, as well as moonlight boat excursions and a grand ball at the Century Roller Rink.
Oshkosh mayor John Banderob declared Wednesday, August 20, to be "Oshkosh Day," and issued the following recommendation:
The Oshkosh Yacht Club, representing the Inland Lake Yachting Association, having named Wednesday, August 20, as "Oshkosh Day," I hereby recommend and request that the citizens of Oshkosh as far as may be possible devote the afternoon of that day to a general attendance at the races on Lake Winnebago.I would also suggest that all places of business be closed at noon in order that all may have the opportunity of witnessing these races and thus aid in making this recreation popular."
Following the mayor's lead, Oshkosh businesses threw their support behind the regatta. By August 7, $1,700 already had been pledged to the yacht club by citizens and businesses, with the total expected to climb to more than $2,000 by the end of the week. Haberdashers stocked up on nautical outfits, and even the Daily Northwestern ran an article on proper attire for yachtsmen. The Continental Clothing House advertised yachting caps—made just for the regatta for 48 cents, 75 cents, and 98 cents—and "the finest souvenirs ever seen in this city . . . especially imported from France. We will present these souvenirs with purchases of one dollar and above, in commemoration of the Inland Lake races."
The Daily Northwestern itself strung a special telephone wire from the roof of the Waters house at the foot of Washington Street so that it could instantly publish the times of buoy roundings that occurred only fifteen minutes before. A special correspondent on the steamer Carter would display different colored fabric squares, which alone or in combination identified boats in the regatta. Marine binoculars, provided by Birely and Son, allowed the rooftop reporter to time roundings and see the colored signals. Results would be wired to the Northwestern office, where they would be set into type for local bulletins and telegraphed to the newspapers in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Bookmakers set up shop at the Hotel Athearn, and the Daily Northwestern listed the odds on each boat in the Felker Cup race. As of one o'clock on the day of the Felker race, Argo was a 10 to 5 favorite, with Aderyn at 15 to 5. According to the newspaper, "betting on the several boats was fairly brisk and quite a sum of money will change hands as a result of the race this afternoon."
The regatta began with the Felker Cup, a race dominated in the early legs by three of the Winnebago yachts and Cavite. With 5,000 people watching on shore, Argo and then Harpoon took early leads, with Aderyn moving into second by the second buoy. As the breeze freshened, Argo overhauled Aderyn, only to be threatened by the high-pointing Harpoon. As skipper Jimmie Jones sailed to windward to stay in front of Harpoon, he cleared the way for Will Davis and Aderyn to break through to leeward. All three bore down on the finish line rail to rail. Trailing by inches, Davis swung his bow up to the line at the last moment, and the three boats swept across the line together.
Each yacht's supporters, of course, thought their crew had won. Davis's steam launch, Mocking Bird, blew such a long blast on her whistle that she was marooned without steam pressure for fifteen minutes. Unable to pick a clear winner, the judges aboard the steamer Annie M retired to the cabin to seek sanctuary from the questions shouted at them from the growing fleet of nearby boats. Unable to sort things out on the water, the judges announced they would continue deliberations at the Hotel Athearn, promising a decision by eight o'clock that evening.
There, the judges met behind a locked door, with the hotel doorman stationed outside to keep away the overly curious. Spectators were called as witnesses, and the proceedings were recorded by a stenographer. By nine o'clock that evening, the judges finally faced the packed lobby. By a vote of three to one, with one judge excused, they gave the Felker Cup to Aderyn. Argo's owner, L. Frank Gates, promptly sought out Will Davis, owner of Aderyn, and shook his hand, complimenting him on his victory.
But once the decision was announced, there arose a flurry of protests by Argo and Algonquin, each protesting the other and Argo claiming foul on Harpoon and Aderyn. None of these protests were heard by the judges.
But two days later, two photographs would emerge of the finish that showed—at least according to the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern—that Argo had been in the lead as the boats crossed the finish line.
With the controversial Felker Cup decided, the somewhat anticlimactic racing for the 1899 ILYA championship could begin. Argo would prove the fastest boat. Handled superbly by Jones, she won three of four races in the 20-footers. A special second prize went to Aderyn for her "remarkable showing," and Minnetonka's Nightingale won the 17-foot cup. Of the Winnebago boats, only Harpoon was not competitive, despite her showing in the Felker Cup race.
2018 Regattas - send your confirmed dates
- 25- ILYA Board Meeting - White Bear, MN
17-18 - Adv. RC Course - Geneva
- 6 Rules discussion - Harken
- 7 Judges Course - Bruce Martinson - Harken
- 28-29 Basic Race Committee Course - John Strassman
- 5-6 Cedar, IN Icebreaker
- 18 - Bilge Puller South Meeting
- Bilge Puller North Meeting
- 19-20 E Spring Regatta - Lake Geneva YC
- 9-10 Wawasee E Scow Regatta - Wawasee, IN
- 22-24 US Sailing JOs - Okoboji
- 23-24 MC Wisconsin Championship - Pine Lake
- 25 - LBSS Opti - Beulah
- 26-27 - TRAP X - Pine Lake
- 29-July 1 - US Sailing JOs - Lake Forest
- 5-6 Quad Lakes - Beulah
- 9-12 GLSS Dinghyfest
- 14-15 ILYA MC Invitational - Nagawicka
- 14-15 ILYA E Invitational - Geneva
- 16-17 XTreme X Regatta - Oshkosh
- 16-19 Area K Jr. Championships - Sheboygan
- 21-22 ILYA C Invitational - Beulah
- 21-22 WYA X - Cedar
- 23 - ILYA No Tears - Beulah
- 25-28 ILYA X Champs - Pewaukee
- 29-31 ILYA Opti Champs - Pewaukee
- 3-5 WYA C - Okauchee
- 12-19 ILYA Championships - Minnetonka
- 12-15 A/MC Scows
- 15 Bilge Pullers Dinner
- 16-19 E/C Scows
- 21-22 National MCSA Junior Championship -
- 23-26 MC Nationals - Pewaukee Yacht Club
8-9 George Dorn MC - Beulah
22-23 NNN Beulah C Challenge - Beulah
- 29-30 Polar Bear Regatta - Lake Davenport Sailing Club