Motor Boat Racing in Europe [1935]

Some Speedy Craft Are Being Tested

Since my article on the subject of world's records appeared in YACHTING, the Italians have displayed further activity in this sphere of the sport — one attempt proving successful but the last resulting in what might have been disaster. Sig. Venturi, the present holder of the 1½-Litre (91 cubic inches), mile and 24-mile records, bored out his B.P.M. engine just sufficiently to put his boat outside this class and therefore into the next above — the 3-Litre class. Again using Giovinezza (ex-Sans Atout), he attained an average of 72.47 m.p.h. for two runs. This remarkable performance with so small an engine easily beat Count Rossi's 3-Litre record of 65.85 m.p.h.

Sig. A. Valtolina's new 1½-Litre racer, fitted with the very latest 140 hp. supercharged B.P.M. motor, was built especially to compete in the 2-hour race for the Spreckels Trophy but, although the hull was only 14 feet over all and as light as possible, Sans Atout II did not get within the maximum weight limit of 770 lbs. imposed by the rules. Her owner had hoped for about 72 m.p.h., and he was justified in his optimism for, on Lake Como, Sans Atout II was clocked as 73.7 m.p.h. on her first official run. Unfortunately, when running "flat out" on the return trial, she encountered the wash of one of the Lake steamers and turned over.

For a boat so small and light to capsize at such a remarkable speed is readily understandable for she must obviously be very tender. Valtolina was pitched out and injured badly in the face and the boat was wrecked.

The highest speed yet attained by an Italian boat and that which constitutes the Italian national unlimited record was attained on June 4th during the Lake Garda meet. Count Rossi, who is well-known to American motor boat racing sportsmen, obtained an average speed of 91.8 m.p.h. with his new 1,000 hp. racer Montelera XXI, the faster of the two runs being 94.2 m.p.h.

This boat, which was to have run against Hubert Scott-Paine's Miss Britain III at Venice last September, is fitted with one of the Fiat "Schneider" aero engines but is unsupercharged.

She also won the Segrave Memorial Trophy for the fastest speed at the meet.

The chief attraction of the meet was, however, the presence of Italy's most famous car-racing drivers, Varzi and Nuvolari — keenest of rivals on road and track — who were racing boats for the first time. Varzi succeeded in winning the Duke of Spoleto's Cup race with the world's 12-Litre record holder Asso, with his rival second. Nuvolari was handling Count Rossi's 6-Litre "record" boat Ravanello.

As regards the Spreckels Trophy race, fixed for July 6th, it is very doubtful if any Italian boats will run owing to the weight limit. England will be represented by Lord Forbes with his new Cooper outboard and Soriano motor, and by Percy Pritchard, who will handle an all-metal 1½-Litre racer. Mr. Pritchard, who is connected with several important metal producing plants in England, is having his boat built entirely of Birmabright and powered by a special V-6 Birmal motor. Great care has been exercised to ensure that Berjlla II is within the weight limit. The Birmal Boats Company has purchased the English rights to produce that interesting B.P.M. angle drive described in February YACHTING and Mr. Pritchard will be the first to use it.

I understand that J. M. L. Rutherfurd and his wife were to compete at Paris on July 13th; at Poole, England, in August, and then go to Venice for the big meeting on September 15th. They should find plenty of competition for Big Duster at the French and Italian regattas but, as there are no 12-Litre boats in England, it would hardly be worth their while shipping her to Poole. On the other hand, the 225 cubic inch Little Duster will find at least four British 4-Litre craft which should provide good competition. One of these has been designed by Fred Cooper and should prove pretty fast.

I shall be interested to see if Joel Thorne carries out his intention to put the world's outboard record up above the "seventy" mark. He seemed pretty sure of himself when he was in England. I am also looking for an American attempt on the long distance records. Several folk here are preparing and it is just a matter of who gets in first.


(Reprinted from Yachting, August 1935)