1908 Olympic Races

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

(From Our Special Correspondent)

It was a thousand pities that a tearing wind from the south-west, almost a whole gale, accompanied in the early part of the day by violent storms of rain should have done all they could do to spoil the first part of the combined programme, in Southampton Water yesterday, of the Motor Yacht Club and the Olympic authorities. There should have been nine races in all, including one for the M.Y.C. ex-36-footer sailing boats, but it was far too rough for the sailing boats to start, and a good many of the other races fell through by reason of the non-appearance of entrants. As it was, courses had to be altered not a little for the races which were run, and the failure of either boat to complete the course in the most important of the Olympic races, left to those who are on board the Enchantress, the pleasant prospect of seeing Dylan, formerly Daimler I, and Wolseley-Siddeley fight their duel over again to-day.

In spite of the weather there was a distinctly large gathering on board the Enchantress, both of competitors, including the Duke of Westminster and Lord Howard de Walden, and of spectators, among them many ladies. The boisterous surroundings appeared to have no effect whatsoever in damping their enjoyment. The officers of the day were Commander Mansfield Cumming, R.N., Messrs. F. P. Armstrong and H. Brickwood, while Harry J. Swindley acted as timekeeper.

Racing actually began--after some little discussion as to the question of beginning at all--with the club's fourth race, a handicap for motor-boats exceeding 8 knots, but not exceeding 15 knots, the substituted course being three rounds, amounting to nearly nine nautical miles in all. This resolved itself into a duel between Mr. S. F. Edge's Napier IV, steered by Mr. Hearman, and Maudslay I, steered by Mr. C. C. Maudslay. Lotus II (Mr. H. W. Hutchinson) and Camilla (Mr. R. N. Fairbanks) did not start. Napier IV had to allow Maudslay I a handicap of 13min. 8sec., which proved to be too much by a shade more than three minutes.

After this interest was concentrated on the Olympic race for motor-boats of any length or power, for which the competitors were the Duke of Westminster's Wolseley-Siddeley and Lord Howard de Walden's Dylan, both boats being steered by their owners. The course was Baldhead Buoy, Deans lake Buoy, and the N.-W. Netley Gas Buoy, four times round, or about 40 sea miles. The start was very pretty. The Duke of Westminster's boat went clean away, travelling two miles to Dylan's one so far as the eye could judge, and it seemed that the race was almost over before it had been in progress for a full minutes. The Daimler boat was left far behind, while the Wolseley-Siddeley hurled up mountains of foam in the offing, and each round seemed to make the position more certain. Then, as she passed the Enchantress, after two or three rounds, the Duke's boat was seen to be going very slowly, and in a minute or two she was lying under the lee of the ship, apparently unmanageable, and in substantial danger of getting foul of sundry small craft on their moorings. The fact was that it was too rough and uncomfortable to go on at the speed, and the engine having been stopped, it was not possible to set it going again at once, so Dylan might have won if she could have finished; but she could not, and I learned later that at the furthest point of the course it often took competitors a long time to find the buoy that was the turning point. There will be, therefore, a very interesting race to look forward to to-day.

Of the other two races run, the first only was in the Olympic programme. it was for motor-boats not exceeding 60ft, and with a total piston area not exceeding that represented by four cylinders each of 55mm. bore. it resolved itself into a match between Mr. T. Thornycroft's speedy Gyrinus and Mr. J. M. Gorham's Quicksilver. The latter was steered by Mr. Gorham, and it is worthy of special remark as an example of feminine endurance that Mrs. Gorham was also on board. The start was interesting, as there seemed at first to be little to choose between the two boats, but Gyrinus had a little of the better of it, and gained the more in that Quicksilver, to all appearances, did not answer to her helm readily in the following sea. Then, after a round or two, Quicksilver gave up, and it was left to Mr. Thornycroft to finish the course, which he did, being much applauded when the winning gun was fired.

The last race to begin--but it was over long before the one last-mentioned--was a handicap for motor-boats not exceeding eight knots. The competitors, over a course of 3.74 sea miles, were Mr. Edge's veteran Napier Major, receiving an allowance of 5min. 3sec., Cid, Commander Cummings, R.N., with an allowance of 3min. 12sec., and Commander (same owner), with an allowance of 1min. 55sec. This race of the slow boats was really quite an exciting affair, for at one period or another each of them held.

(Transcribed from the Times of London, Aug. 29, 1908, p. 4. )

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