Basic record: O=observation Q=question A/S=answer or speculation.
O1.Material: Lesley was made from wood which smells like cedar.
Q1. What are the advantages of using this kind of wood to build Lesley? Were there any other materials such as plastics used as the main material?
A/S: In regard to the lumber, the main material for sneakbox was Atlantic white cedar, known by many as Jersey cedar, which was once plentiful throughout the mid-Atlantic states. (from Wiki) Therefore, Lesley is assumed to cost low expense and could get raw materials to build its body easily. What’s more, the light weight and durable feature of cedar may be of greater importance to enhance the stability and adaptive capacity to resist bad weather than other materials. Though someone may argue that the stability would slow down the speed of racing, it is not necessarily mutually exclusive because the structure (a little bit like the fixed keel) of Lesley requires counterpart weight to sufficiently support itself to keep stiff and race fast.
When it comes to other materials, advanced materials were unaffordable and thus not that common in 1930’s. In 1939 Russia was reported to have constructed a passenger boat of plastic materials. (Notable Progress – the use of plastics, Evening Post, Wellington, New Zealand, Volume CXXVIII, Issue 31, 5 August 1939, Page 28) Hence at that time, plastics were not as popular as cedar.
O2.Color: red, white and blue
Q2. What do the three colors represent?
A/S: Maybe it is the color of the Stars and the Stripes and represents the nation of the boat. (No basis in fact, just speculation)
O3.Volume: 2 benches (which can contain 8-10 persons)
Q3. Is this a group racing or just an individual competition?
A/S: The sneakbox was conceived as a seaworthy hunting craft that one man could easily handle in any of the weather conditions likely to be encountered in the Jersey marshes. (from Wiki) But this statement assigns more significance on the function of hunting than racing. In my view, the racing sneakbox may be larger than the hunting one because the design of two long benches suggests the possibility of multiplayer racing. In addition, an individual is not so likely to handle Lesley and finish the competition on him/herself since the structure of Lesley is a little complicated and it is a hard work to operate the sails and rudder at the same time. There may be some possibilities that these 2 benches serve for other purpose such as carrying judges or passengers, so further research is needed.
O4.Method of racing: 2 engines are lying on both sides.
Q4. How did people race in 1930’s? By human power or engine?
A/S: I maintain that people race with human power. First, there is a principle that many yachtsmen still adhere to that the purpose of yacht racing is to experience the joy of fighting nature. So, they will not use the engine unless they have to. Second, if the hypothesis of group racing（Q3） is true, those people may compete for the group’s skill, power and intelligence. Thus, there is no meaning to race by using engines. Third, the two engines being right here have its own task. When no wind and waves come across the sea, this kind of situation can make a sailing boat difficult to move. Hence, one built-in engine can work in such an environment. And this is the time that yachtsman have to use the engine.
O5.Damaged Condition: left side is more damaged than the right side. (3 pieces of planking were broken)
Q5: How did it get damaged?
A/S: It could be assumed that Lesley was hit at the left side in a racing game.
Q6: What’s the key point of the changing of sneakbox’s function from hunting to racing?
A/S: Some folk customs always have a deep connection with human activities, especially some changes. As for the sneakbox, it might be the main vehicle to transport things. When people celebrated one festival, had a gambling or wanted to entertain themselves, they might begin the sneakbox racing. Under those circumstances, the function of sneakbox gradually changed and became a part of folk customs. For example, the dragon boat in ancient Chinese agricultural society was first used to load rice and fish. Once some people rushed out on the water in their fishing boats to the river and tried to save a famous Chinese poet Qu Yuan who waded into Miluo river and suicided. Therefore, dragon boat races were traditionally held as part of the annual Duanwu Festival in China to memory Qu Yuan. And the sneakbox might be done in the same manner.