San Antonio to Corpus Christi Boat Race
Last month’s Texas Water Safari, the annual race down waterways from San Marcos to Seadrift, calls to mind an earlier boat race that took place in 1926. The San Antonio to Corpus Christi race was organized both for fun and to celebrate the opening of the deep water port in Corpus Christi.
The race course was based on a 1924 two-boat competition, involving San Antonio businessman Porter Loring, Sr. and Fred Christilles of Medina Lake. Christilles, winner of the 1924 event, issued a challenge for another race that would include a larger number of entries. The race was planned so that the boats would arrive in Corpus Christi shortly before the official opening of the port on September 15, 1926.
The San Antonio Light newspaper immediately decided to support the event and commissioned a trophy for the winner of what the editors called “The Light Cup Race.” The paper published numerous articles before and during the race. These articles describe the numerous challenges faced by the participants, including encounters with log jams, sandbars, submerged debris, and rough water in the bays. The Christilles entry, the “Play Boy,” was the first to arrive in Corpus Christi, completing the trip in 5 days, 11 hours, and 42 minutes. With torn shirts and blistered bodies, the men limped from the boat after receiving keys to the city and a large bouquet of roses from welcoming officials. Nearby in the bay, the crew of the City Public Service “Live Wire” were discovered unconscious, due to “hunger, privation, and exposure.” They were disqualified after a tug towed them to shore. The Dean brothers in “Canvasback” arrived next. A few days later, they were declared the winner after the “Play Boy” crew were disqualified because a pilot boat had accompanied them into the harbor.
These are photographs taken before and at the beginning of the race by Light staff photographer Jack Specht.