1908 Seine River Race

Paris to the Sea

W. F. Bradley

We Americans are noted for being a self-centered people. Our thought and our conversation is all about our- selves. Of the outside world we hear little and care less. All this is a mistake, both from a business and an intellectual standpoint. The old world thinks things and does things worthy of our notice. Besides, it broadens us to look long distances. That is why we plan every month to bring some foreign news into these columns. it takes lots of time and some money to do this, and we ask ourselves often if you appreciate it —


There is a splendid opportunity for booming the pleasures of motor boating in the Paris to the Sea cruise which a central committee has put on foot with varying success for several years. Unfortunately, there is a lack of enthusiasm, even among the moving figures, and instead of a big, public-spirited affair the run from the capital to the mouth of the Seine is a delightful pleasure party that the general public knows nothing of.

There were about a dozen starters at Maisons-Laffitte, the suburban river resort from which the start was made on a perfect Sunday morning in August. The fleet of fast Monaco boats, two or three of which could have attracted crowds from Paris to the starting line, were with one or two rare exceptions, rotting in the builders' yards. Delahaye-Nautilus, one of the fastest of the Monaco fleet, ran past the starting point to give a demonstration of her speed, but moored half a mile further down and later returned to her yard. The Fauber, the Yankee hydroplane-displacement boat, gave two or three demonstrations at 60 kilometers an hour, but W. H. Fauber, her builder and owner, did not think there was sufficient interest in the affair to warrant his spending eight days over a journey of 180 miles. There was another American representative in a little single-cylinder Detroit which acted as tender for the commander-in-chief, but it was not allowed to taste the salt waters of the estuary of the Seine.

Without any particular order or rule, the dozen cruiser of all forces and sizes set out for the journey down stream, the first stopping place of which was at Denmount for lunch, the evening port being Vernon. Whatever happened during the day, it was a rigid rule that all should assemble at noon for lunch and at evening for dinner at the spot chosen. There were never any absentees, Paris-to-the-Sea being too much of a pleasure cruise for a skipper to perform stunts or think of breaking records.

Riverside owners who objected to running up stream a few miles to be in at the start, fell in with the fleet as it passed their representative dwellings, thus swelling the number of craft, by the time Caudebec was reached, at the end of the third day, to the respectable number of 22. All Right, with the British flag at her stern, the proprietress, Mrs. Clark, being an English lady, dominated the fleet by reason of her size and power, being the only comfortably fitted cabin cruiser in the party. The rest were for the most part comfortable family cruisers, with here and there a faster boat that would most correctly be classed as a gentleman's cruiser. New boats were conspicuously rare, the only exception being an unpainted craft hurried out of Vedrine's yard at the last moment, and a pleasant looking little cruiser, Pionnier, built by Coninck and engined by Peugeot, Tony-Huber.

M. Gerald Belleville, of automobile and boiler tube fame, put in his fine cruiser near the end of the trip, a craft named Voltigeur and equipped, naturally, with Delahaye-Belleville engines. Firefly, a Tellier-Brasier combination, sailing under the British flag, occupied some attention as one of the faster cruisers, which position it shared with Labor, a fine Despujols hull with ballot four-cylinder engine. Italy had a representative in Bianchi, the four-cylinder 40-horsepower Bianchi motor, which was worthy of a more modern hull. The others were mostly ordinary cruisers of various degrees of beauty and comfort, but none of them departing from the ordinary.

* * *

At Havre, where races were held, the fleet was divided into three classes, in the first of which went Firefly, Isabelle-Gnome (Gnome motor), Lolotte (Mutel motor), Odette (Mutel motor), Sada-Yacco (De Dion motor) and Madeleine (Mutel motor). Lower powered boats in the second class were Bianchi, Voltigeur, Pionnier, Mon Caprice (Abielle) and All Right (Panhard). The smaller boats were Sheherazade (Abielle), Chevalier (Mutel), Wattawanna (Mute), Chemineau (De Dion).

At the Havre regatta, Isabelle-Gnome won in her class, covering the 25 kilometers in 47 minutes 17 seconds. The Delahaye-Belleville Voltigeur came first in its category, and Sheherazade had a walk over in the small class, the others fearing to start. In the handicap race across the mouth of the Seine from Havre to Trouville, the little Chevalier got home first, thanks to a liberal allowance and to the superior manner in which she was handled, many of her rivals having men at the wheel who had not been bred to the sea.

* * *

The Trouville races provided a prize for everybody, a condition of affairs which was apparently pleasing to the competitors and satisfied the holiday-making public. La Rapiere III, one of the fastest of the Monaco racers, turned up for the last two days of the meet, but having no competitors to speed against had to be content with demonstrations in the bay. The absence of the other Tellier boats which made such a sensation at Monaco was largely due to a serous illness of their young designer, A'phonse Tellier. La Rapiere III, naturally won the Gaston Menier cup--it was a walk over.

(Transcribed from Power Boating, October, 1908, pp. 507-508. )

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