Do wood power boats always work?

Let me tell you a story about: John Hacker, the noted race boat and runabout  boat designer; Ernest Wilson, Harold Wilson, and Harold’s finance and later, wife, Lorna, a famous boat racing family; the Gold Cup races and its boat class; Greavette Boats of Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada; and Harry Miller of the famous Miller car racing engines fame. They were all involved in a Gold Cupper named Miss Canada II a racing boat.

Miss Canada II, the Gold Cup class race boat, was designed by Hacker for the Wilsons, at their request. They also engaged Miller to design and build a 1,000 Hp. engine  that met the rules of the racing class. The boat was built by Greavette and the Miller engine was shipped there for installation. The engine never did run at Greavette and it and the race boat were shipped off to Lake George, NY, which was the race site. On race day, the engine broke before the race started. Thus the boat and the famous Wilsons did not get to race. After repairs, the engine did work for three laps at a later in the season race, before it broke again. Thus, that year’s racing season went  past without Miss Canada II ever finishing any race, let alone winning a race.

The following racing season, the Greavette boat, Miller engine, and the racing Wilsons did get some competition laps in, but did not win a race as pieces of the boat interior broke up, and the boat, while fast, was found to be too lightly built to stay together long enough finish a race. Thus ended the second season of boat racing for Miss Canada II.

After more work over the following winter on both the engine and boat, she started her 3rd racing season. The next summer, it was found out that the boat strengthening work done by the boat builder had changed the handling balance of Miss Canada II and she was deemed too hard to handle to win races and allow her driver and mechanic to stay alive while doing so.

The Wilsons ordered a new race boat from a different boat designer, for the next year. Miss Canada III, as the new boat was named, was a race winner.

3 Responses to “Do wood power boats always work?”

  • Douglas Van Patten III:

    My father, Douglas Van Patten, designed Miss Canada III.

  • May I say, she was a great wood power racing boat design but Miss Canada II seems to have had perhaps “too many hands in her bringing to the race boat field” and welcome to my blog.

  • Douglas Van Patten III:

    Miss Canada II had a penchant for porposing, which my father corrected by adding a forward step, a canard if you will, with a higher angle of attack that spilled air when when the boat was about stall. This proved to be a good solution.

    Because of the race deadline, repairs were hurried and nails were used instead of screws, and this resulted in MCII coming apart during the Gold Cup, after having led for several laps.

    But in general I agree with your statement “too many hands…” After all, a camel is really a horse designed by a committee.

    Best Wishes,

    Douglas Van Patten III, Naval Architect

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