© Copyright 2011  Julianne Dodds Speedboat and hydroplane Championships 1921 - 1925  Aeroplane versus speed boats The talk of the town was about the next big race on 16th August 1924 – aeroplane versus speed boats. Back in 1919 two mechanics, Eddie Beckman and Edward Videan, started Brisbane’s first taxi service. Beckman was also interested in aviation, so in 1924 he travelled to Sydney and bought an Avro 504 K single-engine, 2 seat biplane registered G-ADDER.  Horrie Millar, a pilot from Western Australia, was employed to fly the plane and establish Brisbane's first aerial service for charter and joy flights. Beckman and Videan then had both an air taxi service and a taxi cab company. There is no better way to describe the magnitude of this event than in the words of ‘Wayfarer’, a reporter at the time, who detailed the events in The Mid-Week Sports-referee’ on 21 August 1924. “Speed held undisputed sway in the vicinity of the Hamilton Reach on Saturday afternoon. The occasion was the celebration of the Centenary of the discovery of the Brisbane River; a hundred years ago John Oxley toiled laboriously up the same Hamilton Reach, which resounded with the roar and crackle of open exhausts on Saturday afternoon. If only the man who found Brisbane and placed it on the map could have visited the earth to see boats which would have looked like canoes even alongside his tiny vessel, racing like demons possessed, and lashing into foam and surging washes the placid waters which he first awoke from the sleep of centuries, what would have been his thoughts?” The afternoon’s aquatic sport opened with a pageant of motor yachts belonging to the fleet of the Motor Yacht Club of Queensland. The first event on the programme was the Championship of Australia for the “mosquito” boats with engine capacities limited to 320 cubic inches. Commodore George Whatmore’s Queensland champion, Gee-Whiz, with Miss Ascot and Q.P. Too were the contestants. Q.P. Too broke down, leaving the other two to fight out an uneven battle, with Gee Whiz  scoring an easy victory. The half-mile Australian record event was the big race that had caused much comment and speculation.  It was the first meeting since Century Tire had won the Australian  championship in February, of the two old rivals, Meteor and the new champion, driven respectively Major D’Arcy Donkin and Mac Williams.   When the flag dropped Meteor was well in front, and Donkin, not willing to take an advantage in the start, slowed up momentarily until Century Tire drew abreast.   The boats held their distances until the finishing lap was reached, when Meteor gained slightly without ever jeopardising Century Tire’s victory. Miss Albion also started in the unrestricted championship, but she was outclassed and finished in third position, a long way behind the other two. In the second event, the championship of Australia for boats under 610 cubic inches capacity, there were two contestants, Whatmore’s new J. McG .W. driven by his son Ted, and Mac’s Miss Coorparoo  driven by Mac’s son Harry.  It was a great race until J. McG. W. was put out of the race by engine trouble allowing Miss Coorparoo to win. The closing event was the unrestricted championship – a sensational race between the two speed-boats, Meteor and Century Tire, and the Avro aeroplane.  The distance was a total of six miles. The plane and the two boats started together, Captain Videan flying at a very low altitude.  The two hydroplanes flew down Hamilton Reach, while the plane seemed incapable of catching them.  Turning around the end of the Hamilton wall, the three seemed to be on even terms but the plane gained and was well ahead when nearing the turning point.  The two hydroplanes then forged ahead and the plane had to give chase.  The plane drew level and sped ahead before the line was reached. Meteor put on a last minute dash and the big 700 h.p. craft reached the line a foot ahead of Century Tire. During the first lap Century Tire had been travelling well over 70 miles per hour in the straights. Disaster for Gee Whiz In November 1924, there was a disaster on the Brisbane River when George Whatmore’s boat, Gee Whiz was burnt to the water’s edge. Two of his crew were having problems with a damaged fuel tank and leaking fuel. After repairs were done ashore, the men rowed the boat into the river. When the self starter was pulled the boat burst into flames. Both men received burns to most of their bodies and Gee Whiz was totally destroyed. Brisbane Centenary Unrestricted Queensland Championship Won by J McG Williams Century Tire 16th August 1924 The championship pennant won by Mac’s son Harry in Miss Coorparoo Photo from Williams Collection Harry Williams with Les White win in Miss Coorparoo Photo from Williams Collection