1904 Harmsworth Tropy
Cowes, England, July 31, 1904


The British International Cup for Motor-Boats
From Our Special Correspondent

RYDE, July 31.

The race to-day for the British International Cup, now a two-year-old affair, shows this much improvement over last year's, in that three nations were represented in the entries--namely, England (the holders), France, and the United States. Naturally, perhaps, the English entries were five in number, as against three French and one American, but, of these, three English boats and one French did not start at all, and various accidents befell at least three of the remainder, which tends to show that motor-boat racing is at least uncertain as uncertain as any other form, while it is certainly as expensive. It may be said that the winning of a race like this is a great advertisement to the maker of the engine and machinery and the boat's hull, and, while this is true, it is a question whether, if this were all, it would pay, for the construction of a special boat and its special machinery is not only very expensive, but also tends to lessen the productiveness of the workshop in standard lines by taking a number of the best hands off the regular work. One, however, of the greatest gains to the science of building boats propelled by internal combustion engines and their machinery is the experience gained with the really fast boats, for it is quite certain that what stands the stress and strain of a race will be quite capable of performing its work well under the easier conditions of cruising, and that the fitting proved to be necessary in the racer will tent to the increase of comfort in the slower boat. Just as an instance indicative of this, it may be pointed out how in the ordinary marine steam engine the hand oil-can comes in for a very large amount of work in lubricating bearings &c., but it would be not only inconvenient, but also in many cases impossible, to attend to the lubrication of a petrol engine in the same manner. The result has been that a device has been fitted in the racing boats whereby the necessary lubricating oil is carried in a tank in some convenient position and that oil is pumped at will to this or that bearing or other point by the man in charge without its being necessary for him to leave his seat. This has proved to be perfectly efficient, and when fitted to an ordinary cruising launch tends to increase the ease and consequently the comfort of handling her.

Again, as to the shape of hull and the method of building it makers are admittedly at present only on the threshold of a new branch of their craft, for had any shipbuilder been asked, say five years ago, to build a 40ft. launch capable of running at 20 knots and upwards he would have declared the problem an impossible one. Yet this has already been accomplished, and makers are looking to even better results, not, perhaps, so much in the way of mechanical improvements, as in the way of improved body design and methods of construction. To illustrate the latter point it may be remarked that the winner of the race this year is almost, if not quite, the oldest of the competing boats, and that the second boat is the one that did very well this spring an Monaco, so that it would appear as if the latter built boats, which went more or less wrong before or during the race, and which are supposed to be faster, have ascribed some portion of their seaworthiness to speed. Another point raised by the high-speed engine is the shape, size, and pitch of the screw, for it is quite reasonable to assume that a screw working efficiently at a speed of, say, 400 revolutions per minute would not be as effective at 1,000, and it may eventually be proved that there is a limit to the speed at which any screw can be revolved so as to produce its maximum work. Such are some of the problems raised by marine motor racing which remain to be worked out for next year's race.

That the contest for the cup created great interest was evident both from the large crowd on Ryde Pier and from the number of yachts lying at anchor, most of which had "dressed ship" in honor of the occasion. Racing was due to begin at 11:30, and it had been intended to run off all the heats and the final without delay, but, the King and Queen having expressed a desire to see the final, the deciding heat was postponed till 4 o'clock to suit their Majesties' convenience.

The course was 7.7 knots in length, starting from the west side of Ryde Pier, round three mark boats moored off Osborne, and back to Ryde, finishing off there pier head. There was very little wind, and what there was came pretty well off shore, so that the water was perfectly smooth; but the choice of course was hardly in other respects ideal, seeing that there was no room for a flying start, and that from the start the mark boats were hidden by the mass of yachts lying at anchor. These also hid the race when once the boats had got away. the first heat was between Edge's new boat Napier II, designed and built by Yarrow and Co., and engined by D, Napier and Son; Smith and Mabley's American Boat Challenger, built and engined by the owner; and the Bayard, built by the Soc. la Marguerite, and engined by the firm of Clement, representing France. As the gun fired, off went Challenger, slowly followed by Edge, who could only get his starboard engine running (Napier II has twin-screws and engines), while the Clement remained at the starting point, having contrived to get three turns of the barge's mooring chain around her propeller; this took so long to disengage that she never went round the course. Meanwhile Challenger was making the best of her start, and was probably something like half a mile to the good before Edge got really going and disappeared in the smother of foam characteristic of the Napier boats. Half-way round Edge was picking his opponent up fast, but what looked like a good race was spoilt by the derangement of the commutator of one of the Challenger's engines. Edge consequently won by a long way.

The second heat was a walk over for Napier Minor, built by the Saunders Patent Launch Company, and engined by D. Napier and Sons, as the Serpollet boat did not put in an appearance. The third heat was also a walk over for the Richard Brasier boat, Trefle-a-Quatre, built by Sayler and engined by Brasier, the engine being a duplicate of the one which Thery drove in this year's Gordon-Bennett race.

It was necessary to have another heat to decide which boat should represent England, and so the two Napiers were sent away at 12:45. Napier Minor, handled by Evans, shot off as the gun went, followed more slowly by Edge in Napier II, but the latter, when once she had got her speed, soon picked up the smaller boat and won by some 16 seconds, thus placing Napier Minor as the English reserve boat.

It appears that Napier II, must have struck some floating object, for she came back leaking badly in the bows, and examination showed that not only were four of her steel plates started, but that part of the girder running fore and aft was badly cracked; repairs were impossible, and so the reserve boat was called on to run for England.

Shortly before 3:30 his Majesty's yacht Victoria and Albert, followed by the Alberta, made her way across from Portsmouth and anchored off Ryde Pier, and the winning line for the last heat was moved further out to permit of their Majesties' having an uninterrupted view of the finish. The hopes of an English victory were low, as Trefle-a-Quatre has made a great name for herself and has not been beaten before, but the starting-gun showed Napier Minor--driven by Edge--again shoot off as if fired from a gun, while the other boat picked up speed slower, and Edge went away with a good lead. Both boats vanished into the heavy rainstorm that came on at this time, and it was impossible to see what was happening from the Automobile Club boat. After nearly 20 minutes the familiar smudge of foam showed up, and to the general surprise Edge appeared with a lead of about half a mile, by which distance he won. Great applause greeted the victory, and both ran round the Royal yacht, whence the King and Queen had watched the finish. A good race, and won by the faster boat. Details (course, 7.7 knots):

Heat 1 Napier II beat Challenge 24 min. 19 sec.
Heat 2 Napier Minor walked over 23 min. 21 sec.
Heat 3 Trefle-a-Quatre walked over 25 min. 20 sec.
Heat 4 Napier II beat Napier Minor 24 min. 7 sec.
Final Napier Minor (reserve boat) beat Trefle-a-Quatre 23 min. 3 sec.

England therefore retains the International Cup, which must be challenged for before February 1, 1905.

It is understood that the Automobile Club of France has lodged a protest against the running of Napier Minor in the final, as she had been beaten by Napier II.

The speed of Napier Minor in the final heat works out at 20 knots--a very smart performance.

(Transcribed from the London Times, Aug. 1, 1904, p. 6. )

[This is first use of the word "heat" as applied to a round of boat competition in a news article. Also, it is interesting to read closely the editorial remarks at the start of this article. The firms of Thornycroft and Saunders would benefit from high-power boat competition, learning lessons in peace that would be directly applied to torpedo boat production for World Wars One and Two. --- GWC ]


"Napier Minor" Wins Harmsworth Trophy

"Napier II," and "Challenger," Both Faster Boats Than "Napier Minor" Disabled

The long-talked of race for the Harmsworth Cup, the British international trophy for motorboats, held July 30 on the Solent, has gone down into history as a series of mishaps and break-downs by which the Napier Minor, the last year winner of the event, was permitted again to assume the plume of victory, though she was by no means the fastest boat in the race. The Napier II, an English built craft of known superiority over the winner, and actually proved herself faster by winning the fourth heat from Napier Minor was the victim of an accident, by which she began leaking so badly that she had to be withdrawn, thus losing all chance of winning the event.

The American representative, Challenger, after showing superior speed to the Bayard and Napier II, her competitors in the first heat, had trouble with her machinery through a short circuit in an electric sparking device, and at a point when well ahead, was compelled to slow down and finish the course under greatly reduced power. Even under these unfortunate conditions the Challenger completed the course within about three minutes of the time made by the winner, Napier II.

The course of 7.7 knots was covered by the Napier II in 25 m. 10 s., which result in an average of slightly over twenty-one miles an hour.

In the second heat the Napier Minor covered the course alone, as did the Trefle-a-Quatre in the third heat, the other competitors having been either disabled or withdrawn for other causes.

The fourth heat, between Napier II, the winner of the first heat, and Napier Minor, the walkover winner of the second heat, resulted in a victory for the Napier II. This would have eliminated the Napier Minor from the event, leaving the final heat between Napier II and the Trefle-a-Quatre. Owing to the leaky condition of the Napier II, it became necessary to substitute the other English entry, Napier Minor.

The final heat resulted in a victory for the English boat, which covered the course in 23 m. 1 s., or at the rate of 23 statute miles an hour. it must be vary apparent to any who cares to look at the figures as shown in the results that the fastest boat did not win. That the American boat had the most speed was conclusively shown by the manner in which she ran away from her competitors in the first heat.

The winner is 35 feet long, with an extreme beam of 5 feet, and planked with three skins of 1/8 inch mahogany, between each of which a specially prepared linen is placed, and is sewn together on the Saunders patent system. She is partly decked over, and the machinery is protected by a movable hatch which can be raised or lowered at will. The engine is placed well forward in the boat, the cockpit space of which is divided into two parts. Of these the machinery occupies the forward compartment, while the after space is reserved for passengers, and is entirely protected by a spray hood.

The steering gear, operating levers, and all controlling devices are easily controlled by one man, and the boat is fitted up in as comfortable and smart a manner as possible. The driver is a Napier Marine motor developing 80 h.p.

A Smith and Mabley Card

The result of the races on the Solent, by which the Harmsworth cup was again won by the English boat Napier Minor, which boat showed a speed of 23 statute miles an hour, cannot fail to be a disappointment to all who expected to see this event an exhibition of phenomenal speed. The Challenger, before being shipped to Europe, was officially times at better than 26 miles an hour over a course of twenty miles.

Her sister boat, Vingt-et-Un II, has actually shown over 23,83 statute miles an hour, while the Standard has repeatedly shown her ability to do the trick, and a racing record of two years has demonstrated the fact that as a reliable performer this boat cannot be excelled. In fact, we have several speed boats on this side of the great divide that could make the winner of the Harmsworth Cup look like a selling plater, and could do it as often and over as long a course as our English cousins might want.. Bearing on this point the Smith & Mabley Co. Inc., have sent out the following card:

"The Challenger which America sent abroad has an official record of 26 1/2 miles, or 3 1/2 miles faster than the winner of the International Cup Race, as the official record shows. Our smaller boat Vingt-et-Un II, on Saturday, July 30, at the Atlantic Yacht Club races, made 20 knots, or a 23.83 mile clip. or over three-quarters of a mile per hour faster than the winner of the International Cup. We had considered this boat not fast enough to win the race on the other side, but as the figures show, we were entirely too modest. The Vingt-et-Un II has only half the power of the Challenger, and the records show her to be the fastest boat of 40 feet in the world excepting the Challenger, which was unfortunately disabled through a short circuit in the early part of the race, when she was leading and gaining very rapidly on all competitors, and then completed the course, elapsed time, within about three minutes of the winning boat's time. Although we lose, we're not ashamed, and consider the Challenger's performance a good one."

(Transcribed from The Motor Boat, Aug. 10, 1904, p. 8. )


The International Motor-Boat Contest "Napier II"

A short time ago we described in the Scientific American a series of experiments that had been carried out by Messrs. Yarrow & Co., of Poplar, London. to determine the best form of hull for high-speed motor boats, and we illustrated the type of craft which caused the least disturbance of water when traveling at high speed.

The Yarrow Napier launch herewith illustrated, which was built to compete for the International Cup in England, is built upon the results achieved from those trials. It measures 40 feet over all, 40 feet water line, and has a beam of 5 feet. The hull is constructed throughout of steel. The boat has a straight sheer line falling from the stem to the stern. There is an ample turtle deck forward and a nearly flat deck aft. The tumble-home top sides aft and the substantial wall-sided bow give an impression of stability and speed. The decks are of steel and the rudder and "A" brackets are steel forgings. The two gasoline motors, which are of the Napier machine racing type, develop 90 horse-power. They are carried on a substantial girder run fore and aft of the boat and are also attached to the side of the craft on special frames. Thus the boat and motor are absolutely tied together, and experience has demonstrated that this method of securing motors and thrust block is quite satisfactory.

The reverse gear for the starboard engine--the boat is fitted with twin screws--and the thrust bearings of both engines are in metal box-shaped castings, also secured to the motor girders. These boxes are filled with oil, and being quite watertight enable the bearings, especially the thrust bearing, to run entirely submerged in oil. The engines are connected to the shaft by Napier metal-to-metal marine clutches, which run in oil and are operated by pedals actuated by the steersman, thus placing the boat under his complete control.

The exhaust of the Napier water-jacketed exhaust system, and the exhaust receivers and pipes are kept quite cool throughout their entire length. The water circulation is accomplished by two pumps for each motor, which by means of transfer pipes and cocks can be connected together. In the event of one circuit breaking down, the one serves to supply the water jacket of the engine, and the other supplies the water jacketed exhaust. In addition to these pumps auxiliary hand pumps are fitted which can be immediately brought into play when required. The gasoline reservoir is also water jacketed and is carried aft, with the direct supply tank for the motors placed forward. The gasoline is pumped up from the reservoir to the supply tank by means of a hand pump, and the overflow simply runs back again into the store tank, and indicates when it is doing so in a gage. The lubrication is triplicate, drip feed, splash and forced lubrication being in operation simultaneously. All bearings thus have three distinct methods of oil supply. The lubricant is carried in a store tank and is pumped by hand to feed whatever part is required through pipes leading from a distributer.

The steering acts directly from the wheel to the rudder quadrant without any intermediate pulleys or turn in the wire. This produces practically the same result as tiller steering and is extremely sensitive in operation. Attached to the engine is an instrument board to which all regulators and so forth are brought, so that everything is immediately before the engineer and he can manipulate the two engined to a nicety and steer the boat if necessary by the two screws, should the rudder become deranged. A new system of automatic bilge ejection has been adopted which is capable of dealing with vast quantities of water with very little expenditure of power and which is quite automatic in its action. The engines are fitted with high-tension synchronized ignition, accumulators, and coil, and the motors are started by the simple operation of a switch. Either engine can be started by the other.

For the International Cup race off Cowes there were 9 boats entered, of which 5 were British, 3 French, and 1, the Challenger, was from the United States. In the preliminary trials two boats, Napier II, and Napier Minor, proved to be superior to their British competitors, and although Napier II, at times showed better speed than Napier Minor, the latter was selected to meet the French boat, Trefle-a-Quatre in the final, which she won. She covered the 7.8 miles course in 23m. 3s. as against a time of 24m. 27s. for the French boat, the winner's speed being about 20 knots an hour. The prize, however, went to the French boat on a technical protest.

(Transcribed from the Scientific American, Sep. 3, 1904, p. 163. )


France Takes the Harmsworth Trophy

According to a belated official decision, the Harmsworth Trophy has been awarded to Trefle-a- Quatre, which ran second, on the ground that Napier Minor, which finished first, was defeated by Napier II in the elimination trials. In this race each country is entitled to but one entry, and England, through elimination trials, selected as her representative Napier II. At the last moment Napier Minor was substituted owing to the leaky condition of Napier II. The claim was set up that this was contrary to the conditions under which the race was to be held, and this protest was sustained by the judges. In the actual contest Trefle-a-Quatre was badly beaten by even Napier Minor, so that she wins, and properly so, by a sheer technicality. The decision caused an eruption, but it was not disputed.

(Transcribed from The Motor Boat, Sep. 10, 1904, p. 6. )


Motor Boats to Race in French Waters

International Event Will be Held in Bay of Arachone Next Summer

America Has Chance to Win

Fast Foreign Craft May Enter Florida Races

After a careful inspection of half a dozen localities, the Automobile Club of France has selected the Bay of Arachon for the international motor boat race next year. This event is better known, perhaps, as the Harmsworth Cup contest, as Sir Alfred Harmsworth presented the cup for an international motor boat race two years ago. An English boat won the trophy the first year, but in 1904, after a close contest, the Trefle-a-Quatre, one of the French entries, received the cup. The English boat, Napier Minor, won the final race, but owing to failure to comply with all of the required regulations the committee gave the race to the French contestant. Therefore the Automobile Club of France secures the right to conduct the event the coming season.

The bay that has been selected is a splendid sheet of water, and will offer every facility for motor boats to show their highest speed. The Bay of Arachon is in the southwestern part if France, a few miles south of Bordeaux, and empties into the Bay of Biscay. The exact date of the race has not yet been set, but it will be between July 25 and Aug. 8. The same conditions will prevail this year regarding the length of the competing boats, forty feet over all being the maximum, but the racing distance has been lengthened to about thirty miles, giving a much better test of motor boats in a race than twelve miles, as in the former races.

With the selection of the place for the race a revival of interest may be looked for among those who predict great results from the automobile boats in the near future. The fact that America was represented in England this year at the Harmsworth Cup event is an indication that another boat may be sent over. The Challenger represented America, but owing to the instability of its machinery was badly beaten in the first heat after leading for quite a distance.

The marked improvement made by American designers and builders in the speed results of motor boats toward the close of the season suggests the possibility that an American boat might win the cup, if sent over and properly handled.

The Trefle-a-Quatre made a great reputation a year ago at the Monte Carlo races, going a trifle better than twenty-five miles an hour, and was considered a wonder. It is interesting to mention that her motor are the same make as were in the victorious car driven by Thery when he won the Bennett Cup race in Germany last June. There has been some talk of bringing over the Trefle-a-Quatre for the races at Palm Beach in February, but nothing definite will be known until early in the year.

Neither Commodore Moore's Onontio nor Frank Croker's XPDNC would be eligible for the Harmsworth Cup race, as both are longer than the maximum limit allowed for that event. The Onontio is sixty feet over all, while Croker's boat is forty-four feet on the water line. Nevertheless, other boats within the forty-foot limit are being built, and will be seen in the Palm Beach races, that are expected to show fully as good time as either of these two, so there is little doubt that America could make a creditable showing, provided any one is ambitious enough to make the effort. The entries will not close until late in June, and in this country will be made through the Automobile Club of America.

(Transcribed from the New York Times, Dec. 12, 1904, p. 10 )


[See also:

Harmsworth Preparations - USA [1904] (Pt. 1)

Harmsworth Preparations - USA [1904] (Pt. 2)

1904 Harmsworth Trophy (from The Rudder)]

1904 Harmsworth Trophy - Yachting World

[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page]


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