1909 Harmsworth Trophy
British Motor Boats
I daresay marine motorists in the United States were disappointed at the inability of the Motor Yacht Club to go on with its challenge for the British International Trophy. We were not too well pleased at the withdrawal ourselves; but in the circumstances it was unavoidable. On this side, the majority are consoling themselves with the reflection that if we did not have a race this year we shall all the more stirring a contest next year. Personally, I do not think we shall. On the contrary, I incline to view that if the Deed of Gift is not altered you will be at liberty to put the trophy in the cupboard with the America Cup. Please do not mistake this for a jaundiced opinion. Naturally, I would much rather we had the cup than you; but as matters stand we can only hope to regain it by building a boat especially for the race. On our side of the Atlantic the big class of racers is by international rule a group of 50-footers. If we do not build to that class—if we build instead to the 40-foot class, with the intention of sending a boat across next August, the owner of the challenger would be barred from using his expensive boat not only at Monaco, but in every Continental country and in Great Britain as well. This is quite clearly too much to ask of men like the Duke of Westminster and Lord Howard de Walden to do, because, although both have the money to burn on fleets of speed craft, it is sport they are out for and not glory.
If your people make the length limit 50 feet instead of 40 feet, I am tolerably certain you can have a race next year and a beating. We are doing pretty well now with big boats, as you may have heard. The Saunders hulls of Ursula and Amazon are tip-top jobs, and stand the enormous power of their engines very well. They seem to me to represent better boat building than even the Daimler and Wolseley-Siddeley, which you saw last year, and that Wolseley-Siddeley was a good hull is proved by the fact that it is a cabin cruiser this year with 40-horse- power engine, giving a speed through the water of 12 knots. As Baron von Bissing’s Hova it has stood any amount of knocking about in the English Channel this year, and is apparently none the worse. I have not up to the time this message is written seen the engines of Amazon. But Ursula’s Wolseley motors are a fine bit of engineering. They are twelve-cylinder engines, and in two of them there is 750 horsepower. Their weight is
8 ¾ pounds per horsepower, which is an improvement on the eight-cylinder jobs of the first Wolseley-
Siddeley. But there is nothing to wonder at in the achievement considering that the makers have for a long time been developing the petrol engine for dirigible balloons and aeroplanes and for submarines as well. They showed some very light airship engines at Olympia in the spring. Their connection with submarine construction is due to the fact that they are associated with Vickers’ Sons & Maxim, who are the owners in Europe of the Holland patents and are sole contractors to the Admiralty for submarines. Striking though their successes with petrol engines have been, I imagine, however, that it is towards a good paraffin type they are working. Our naval authorities do not like what you call gasoline.
We have no 40-footers this year of any speed. But we are fairly strong in racing cruisers of 6 ½ to 8 metres. There is a new Gyrinus with a Thornycroft engine, Lucinha with a Napier, and Brabanconne with, I think, a Metallurgique. Lucinha and Gyrinus are 22-knot boats, and Brabanconne ought to be. Secret, which was at Monaco, is doing 17 knots with the liners out of the cylinders of her Ballot motor; but on marine Motor Association rating and time scale a little boat called Defender II, with a 7-horsepower Sizaire engine, is taking all the prizes from her. Commander Cumming, of the Motor Yacht Club, has used the old hull of Berliet to experiment with a Silent Knight engine. He calls the boat Compulsory and expects his friends to see the joke without a chart. We shall no doubt hear more of the experiment in another year. One or two American engines continue to do very well. Mr. R. N. Fairbanks has further improved the position he won last year, and as a result one hears less said against American engines than was the case. There is a nice-running Fairbanks on a 16-knot boat called Lotus. Mr. Fairbanks himself has another Camilla. Mullins pressed-steel boats are also being pushed vigorously both on the Thames and on the Clyde, but it is early yet to talk of the prospects of business. We are very conservative in this country, as you have no doubt heard.
So far the honors for hydroplaning seem to rest with the Thornycrofts, although Lord Hardwicke’s Fauber is an interesting vessel. Sir John Thornycroft, who has an experimental tank in the grounds of his residence in the Isle of Wight, evolved a hydroplane model which pleased him so much that he could not resist the temptation to embody the ideal in an actual boat. This boat is 22 feet long and 6 feet 10 inches beam. Her underbody is like that of a flat fish, and her upper structure like a whaleback. Her motor is a 40-horsepower like that in Gyrinus. She has only one step, and that is under the forefoot; and when she travels at a high speed—her maximum in smooth water is, by the way, 27 knots—she "rests" on this step and on a small part of the underbody aft. She planes all right, and as she travels right you can see daylight under her. Originally she had a rudder of the usual kind in the usual place, but it interfered with the action of the propeller and Sir John took it off. When I was on the boat she was steering like a taxicab by means of a small rudder fitted to the aft end of the step. Sir John intends to retain this rudder for use when the vessel is "up" and to fit a larger rudder astern for use when she is "down."
(Transcribed from Yachting, September, 1909, p. 231)
[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page LF]
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