1908 Olympic Races

Motor Yacht Club Regatta and Olympic Races
(From Our Special Correspondent)

Motor Yacht Club Regatta and Olympic Races [Pt.1]
Motor Yacht Club Regatta and Olympic Races [Pt.2]

The environment of the second day of the combined Motor Yacht Club regatta and Olympic motor-boat races in Southampton Water, on Saturday, was a compound of extreme contrasts. At one time the decks of the Enchantress, which was dressed for the occasion with flags, dancing and streaming in a strong wind, were crowded with people, the ladies almost as numerous as the men, reveling in the welcome sunshine; then the sky over Southampton and the New Forest would grow inky black, and for a quarter of an hour or so there would be a rush of storm-driven rain, obliterating all things from sight, and again the sun would come. All through these alternating phases, whether spectators were taking their pleasure or running for shelter the races went on and the vigilant officials continued to carry out their duties regardless of all things else. Hence when evening came, and with it Commander Mansfield Cumming, R.N., in the chair at a house dinner in what was once the engine-room of the Enchantress, the impression remaining was that the experience of two days had been at once delightful, valuable, and individual in its character.

Nor is this an observation merely complimentary and devoid of special reference. As was said by a genial and practical soul, who has been first among the first in many new movements connected with locomotion for pleasure, there is always a peculiar fascination and interest in the early days of clubs gathered together to push a movement new in its kind. In fact, in the prosperous and pleasant development of the Motor Yacht Club are to be observed the same features of intimacy and comradeship and zeal which were characteristic of the early days of the Automobile Club. Good work is done, and plenty of it, and all are keenly interested in it.

Saturday's work began with an Olympic race for motor-boats exceeding 6 metres but not exceeding 8 metres in length, weighing not less than 800 kilos without fuel or crew, but in running order, with a total piston area not exceeding that represented by four cylinders each of 106 millimetres. It involved five rounds of a course from the Enchantress round Ball Head, Dean's Lake, and N.W. Netley buoys, or just under 40 sea miles, the boats entered being four. Those which actually competed were Messrs. T. Thornycroft's and Bernard redwood's Gyrinus and Mr. Warwick Wright's Sea Dog, and the first round looked like the beginning of one of the finest and closest races ever seen between motor-boats. Now one, now the other forged a shade in front of the other, and when they returned past the ship there were but three-fifths of a second between them. The, unhappily, Sea Dog was compelled to retire with a hot bearing, and that speedy craft Gyrinus was left to finish the course alone, which she did in 2hr. 28min. 26sec., a distinctly good performance for a vessel of her size, in water which was none too easy. So Mr. Thornycroft added another leaf to the Olympic garland which he had begun to twine on the preceding day.

The next two races run were full of amusement for owners and crews. They were a handicap for motor-boats not exceeding eight knots, and a sailing race for M.Y.C. ex-36-footers. For the first time there was a large entry and the boats crossing the line were:--Mr. H. S. Atkinson's Microbe, Mr. H. S. Benziee's Cannibal, Mr. T. S. Winan's Squirt, Mr. F. P. Armstrong's Solace, Commander Mansfield Cumming's two vessels, Cid and Commander, Mr. C. P. Foster's Mynonie, and Mr. S. F. Edge's Napier Major. In this race the first three in the order named were Commander, cannibal, and Napier Major, and it certainly should be added, in justice to the seldom praised tribe of handicappers, that the top of the list at all events justified their wisdom, for the difference between the first and the third boats was precisely 1min. 21sec.

The sailing race brought out Mr. Bircham's Flavia, which won from Mr. Armstrong's Westra by so slight an interval that it looked like a dead-heat; L'Allegra jointly owned by Mr. L. R. Squire and Commander Cumming; Major Pyne's Doris and Commander Cumming's Barbara, the last sailed by Rear Admiral Tate. it was the best of fun, and the duel between Flavia, sailed by her owner, and Westra, sailed by Mr. Thornycroft, was of the most exciting description.

After this came a race for motor-boats of all classes under M.M.A. time allowance, which resulted in another victory for Gyrinus. She started with an advantage of 1min. 40sec. from Mr. Gorham's Quicksilver, scratch, and finished in a corrected time of 29min. 5sec., against Quicksilver's 31min. 35sec. Mr. S. F. Edge's Napier IV, receiving 12min. 27sec, was third and Mr. C. C. Maudslay's Maudslay I fourth. Napier Major was entered but did not start.

A race for yacht dinghies, perhaps one of the most practical purposes for which the motor-engine can be applied in a small way, followed, and then quite a good match between Maudslay I and Napier IV, in the handicap for motor-boats over eight knots and not exceeding 15. This went to Maudslay I, which received 8min. 21sec. from Napier IV over a course of nearly nine sea miles, won by 1min. 36sec. Of a sailing race between registered fishing boats nothing more needs to be said to the world at large than that it was sailed, thus showing the club's desire to stand well in local esteem. A flexibility race resulted, through various misunderstandings, but without any ill-feeling anywhere, in the disqualification of all the competitors.

The races that remain to be treated, save only one which was anticipated with greater interest than any others, were a handicap for motor-boats exceeding 15 knots and an extra race. The former, about 12 sea miles, brought out Quicksilver and Sea Dog, first and second; and to the general regret we saw Gyrinus placed hors de combat by breaking her propeller upon a sunken buoy; the latter, and extra race of all but six sea miles, saw Mr. Fairbank's Camilla win from scratch in 29min. 34sec, the second being Cid, receiving 20min, and beaten by 1min. 6sec. above that. Maudslay I and Mr. Grahame White's Carreerma were third and fourth.

It will be observed that nothing has been said of the important Olympic Race for motor-boats of any length or power. But really there is very little to be said. The race started, the only boats to cross the line being the Duke of Westminster's Wolseley-Siddeley and a French boat entered by M. Thubron, but not yet named. For two rounds the Duke of Westminster's boat went much the better, and then she ran aground and stuck. The French boat finished alone and her time has not been posted.

(Transcribed from the Times of London, Aug. 31, 1908, p. 10. )

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

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Leslie Field, 2001