1-31-03: “The Three Brothers Challenge Race”
By: Charlie “Bud” White
From the desk of Charlie “Bud” White
Let me give you a little history on the “Georgie II” now owned by Chan Irwin. I used to tend sheet for Ed Irwin, Chan Irwin’s father, on many an occasion.
I also remember a picture of the Georgie II in the Red Bank Register showing Ed and I in a row boat floating in water in the hole in the ice made when Ed went through in a race off Stavola’s Point. The picture depicts us cutting the 100 pounds of lead off each plank. My guess is this happened in the late 50’s.
Well the story I have to tell is titled “the three brothers challenge race.” There always has been a rivalry between the Irwins and the Whites in the ice boating world. For years Rube White’s “Elizabeth R” was a pennant winner many times and it was considered one of the fastest “A” boats on the river, but only in heavy winds. She was a heavy sob. “The Georgie II”, sailed by Ol’ Capt’ Charlie Irwin, was probably the fastest of all the “A” gaff rigged boats. I remember Dr. Doug Hoyt and I sailing the Georgie II in the South Shrewsbury Challenge Race in the 50’s and we were beating the pants off them until Doug slatted around Guyon’s stake and threw me out of the boat.
Until sometime in the 40’s and my memory on the exact dates needs to be checked, there were no Marconi “A” boats on the river until Otto Gillig, owner of the New York Yankees, bought “The Pirate” and brought it east to the Navesink River. He had Del Fisher sail it for him. The pirate was so fast in comparison to the gaff rig boats that it took the competition out of the race. They should have made the Marconi boats a different class. Soon after came the Eskimo renamed the “Ice Folly”
Eventually, Joe Irwin bought both boats. Ed Irwin kept sailing the Georgie II. I crewed for Joe off and on.
Now, to the story. I can’t remember the year except I believe it was the late 50’s or early 60’s. It was a good year with lots of ice. Anyway, my uncle Rube and my father, Ensley Sr., sailing the “Elizabeth R” challenged Joe and Ed Irwin sailing the Eskimo and my brother Dr. Ensley “Mickey” White and myself sailing Ed’s boat the “Georgie II”.
It was a close race between the Eskimo and the Georgie. Nip and tuck all the way. Until we got to the finish line and we were on different tacks. Ed was at the tiller and he had the right of way but I yelled to Mick who was at our tiller “force him about!” Mick did so and we won the race but actually we fouled out but we never admitted it.
Ed came storming over to us after the race and in his salty language asked what in the hell was that all about.
I calmly answered “Ed I knew damn well you wouldn’t crack up your own boat”!
He never forgave us. I must admit that when I went duck shooting with Ed and Joe after that incident I always was a little nervous.
As a teenager I used to sail Rube White’s “C” Class Rear Steerer “Moonlight”, this was starting back in the 30’s. I still have it. In the 60’s I raced the Yankee #217 “the Terror “ which is one of the 14 Yankees built by Doc White along with the other NSIBYC members as a club project. Doc White went to Florida soon after to take a residency in surgery right after the boat was completed.
I have many happy ice boating memories to look back upon in my 80th year.
Good luck to you and the guys in the club. Its nice to see how active the club is. My father and Rube were members back around 1910.
Charlie “Bud” White