The Automobile And Motor-Boat Races At Nice And Monte Carlo [1904]

Interest in the annual automobile speed trials at Nice was increased this year because of the motor-boat races in the Bay of Monaco, which were run off a few days later in connection with an exhibition of this new type of speedy craft.

The motor-boat races, which were sailed over a hexagonal course 12.5 kilometers (7.84 miles) in length in the Bay of Monaco, began on April 5 with a 150 kilometer (93.15-mile) race for the large, powerful racing boats less than 8 meters (26¼ feet) in length and having a total cylinder capacity less than 7.5 liters (457.66 cubic inches); and with a 60 kilometer (37¼-mile) race for the smaller cruising launches less than 6.5 meters (21.23 feet) long and with a cylinder capacity of less than 2.5 liters (152.55 cubic inches). A special traveling crane conveyed the boats from the exhibition space to the water's edge, and laid them upon a long incline running out into the water, down into which they were readily slid.

The 150-kilometer race was won in 4½ hours, 22 1-5 seconds by La Rape'e III, a 7.98 meter (26.18-foot) boat built by Tellier and fitted with a Panhard & Levassor, four-cylinder, 35-horse- power motor having a cylinder capacity of 7.363 liters (449.30 cubic inches). The Princess Elizabeth, which came in second in 5 hours, 18 minutes, and 4 seconds, is exactly the same type and length of boat, and is fitted with a four-cylinder Delahaye motor having a cylinder capacity of 7.443 liters (454.186 cubic inches).

Out of seven racers and six cruisers which started, only three of the former completed the race, while five of the latter succeeded in finishing. This shows that the ordinary launch with an engine of moderate horsepower is much more reliable than the light racing shell propelled by a high-power motor and generally termed an automobile, or motor boat.

The winner of the 200-kilometer (124.2-mile) race---the Trefle-a-Quatre---as well as La Rape'e III, are shown in the photographs taken during the race. An idea of the fine lines of these boats can be had by noting the bow wave, which is so thin as to be quite transparent, the waterline of the boat being readily seen through it. The Trefle-a-Quatre is fitted with a Georges Richard-Brazier four-cylinder motor. Its time for the 200 kilometers was 5 hours, 16 minutes, 51 3-5 seconds.

The motor-boat races were carried out successfully and with but one serious accident. This happened to the Parisienne II, a very long racer equipped with three motors of about 70 horse-power each. This boat caught fire from a gasoline leak, and the gasoline in her tanks made a furious flame. The three men of the crew escaped by jumping overboard, and two of them were badly burned. As the boat had a steel hull, it was not destroyed, although the engines were ruined.

(Transcribed from Scientific American, April 30, 1904. pp. 350-351)

[The photographs mentioned in this article are not available at this time. I hope to add them eventually. Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page. — LF]