1910 Harmsworth Trophy

A Challenge for the British International Trophy

By Charles P. Tower

That there will be a race for the British International Trophy for Motorboats, commonly known as the Harmsworth Cup, during the Summer of 1910, is now practically assured. Under the terms of the Deed of Gift,

February 1st is the latest date on which a challenge can be entertained. And heretofore January has usually entered on its last quarter before possible competitors have signified their intentions. This year, however, the British motorboat enthusiasts began to make war medicine very early in the season. During the latter part of November Secretary Bieling, of the Motor Boat Club of America, the present custodian of the British International Trophy, received these three cablegrams in quick succession:

London, Eng., Nov. 19, 1909
Motor Boat Club of America

We, the British Motor Boat Club, hereby challenge for the British International
Cup. Confirmation follows by mail.

Robinson, Secretary

*  *  *

Bursledon, Eng., Nov. 20, 1909

Secretary, Motor Boat Club of America, New York
Trustees International Cup do not recognize reported challenge. Writing.

*  *  *

Bursledon, Eng., Nov. 24, 1909

Motor Boat Club of America
Cancel previous cable. Motor Yacht Club challenges International Cup with
two boats. Writing. Jupp

Here were indications of trouble, for in the Deed of Gift the Motor Yacht Club is named as the trustee of the cup, and likewise in that document, in speaking of the selection of vessels, there is the following paragraph:

"Vessels representing a country shall be selected by a recognized club
of that country.
If there be any dispute as to what is a recognized club of the country, the trustees
Shall decide, and their decision shall be absolutely binding."

The second of the cablegrams heretofore mentioned, taken by itself, would indicate that the Motor Boat Club of America would have to decline the challenge of the British Motor Boat Club. The third cablegram, however, simplified matters, and they were still further explained when the secretary, in the course of time, received the following letters, the first one of which constitutes a formal challenge from the British Motor Boat Club, while the second fulfills a similar purpose for the Motor Yacht Club.

London, W., Nov. 19th, 1909
Secretary, Motor Boat Club of America
New York.

Dear Sir:

At a meeting of the committee of this club, held yesterday, the 18th of November,
I was instructed on behalf of the club to cable you as follows: "We, the British
Motor Boat Club, hereby challenge for the British International Cup. Confirmation
follows by Mail. Robinson, Secretary."

I have the pleasure in confirming herewith the above cablegram.

At the same meeting it was decided that Mr. E. Mackay Edgar should be the representative
of the club, and as he is leaving for New York by the Mauretania on Saturday,
the committee has asked him to place himself in communication with you on arrival.

I propose handing Mr. Edgar a copy of this letter and should be obliged if you would
Endeavor to arrange a date for the race with him to mutual satisfaction.

I am,
Yours very truly,
(Signed) R. B. Robinson, Secretary

*  *  *

Burlesdon, Hamble River, England, Nov. 26, `09
The Secretary,
Motor Boat Club of America,
New York, U.S.A.

My Dear Sir:

My committee has had under consideration for some time past the question of a challenge
for the B. I. Cup, to be forwarded to your club at about the usual tome towards
the end of January. This would have enabled the race to be held at the customary time
of the year which we have found by long experience to be most convenient to our
members, and, we believe, to all concerned. Three of our members are preparing plans
for challengers, and I hope that at least two will prove sufficiently successful to warrant
there being sent across the Atlantic to try conclusions with your boats.

The situation has been somewhat changed by the challenge which I understand has been
forwarded to your club by the British Motor Boat Club. At first, my committee, as
trustees of the cup, were disposed to assert their position as the challenging authority
of this country and to decline to recognize any other body in the matter. On the other
hand, it is obvious that anything in the matter of a dispute should be avoided at all costs,
and my committee has come to the conclusion that, in the circumstances, the interests
of the sport will be best served by their nor raising the question of recognition and by
sending a challenge for two boats which will complete the team prescribed by the rules.
Will you, therefore, take this letter as a confirmation of my second cable, which was a
formal challenge on the part of the Motor Yacht Club of Great Britain and Ireland, with
two boats for next year’s race.

I sincerely trust that when the time comes we shall see a full team crossing the Atlantic
to make a determined effort to win back the cup.

Believe me,
Dear Sir,

Yours faithfully
(Signed) W. A. Jupp

In explanation of the second letter, it may be said that the Deed of Gift limits the number of competitors representing any one country to three, and therefore if the British Motor Boat Club sends one boat across the Atlantic to compete, and the Motor Yacht Club sends two, the British team will be a full number.

These cablegrams and the letters have been acknowledged in due course by Secretary Bieling, and they were laid before the Board of Governors of the Motor Boat Club of America at a meeting held on December 17th. The challenge of the British Motor Boat Club was accepted, and the date for the race was fixed at Saturday, August 20th. The notice of intention of the Motor Yacht Club to enter two boats was also acknowledged.

There have been six contests for the British International Trophy, and the present year is the only one since the conveyance of the cup to the Motor Yacht Club as trustees during which there has been no race. The trophy was presented by Sir Alfred Harmsworth in 1903, and the first race for it occurred on July 11th of that year, in Queenstown Harbor, in connection with a series of other races. There was only one foreign entry, a 90-hp. Mercedes boat coming from Germany. Just before the race this boat was destroyed by fire, and a French-built hull was substituted, but as the craft did not then comply with the stipulation that a competitor should be built entirely in the country it represented, the boat was disqualified from racing. There were three English boats, Napier I, a steel 40-footer with a 57-hp. motor; Durandel, equipped with a 50-hp., and a Thornycroft boat known as Scolopendra. The race was won by Napier I, and thus the trophy was fairly settled in the hands of the Motor Yacht Club and subject to challenge.

In 1904 France and America both challenged for the trophy. France entered three boats, one a steam craft known as Gardner-Serpollet, another Clement with 180-hp. motor, and the famous Trefle-a-Quatre, a little boat of the 8-meter class, and fitted with only 80-hp. The American representative was Challenger, built by the Smith & Mabley Manufacturing Company, and equipped with one of that company’s eight-cylinder, 150-hp. motors. England was represented by three boats, Napier II, a twin-screw craft; Napier-Minor, and Hutton I. The race, which took place on the Solent on July 30 was run in heats, and this was the only contest, by the way, conducted in that manner. Napier II, bracketed with Challenger, defeated the American boat. Hutton I did not complete the course, and Trefle-a-Quatre, the only French boat to start, and Napier-Minor each had a walkover. In the next heat, known as semi-final, Napier II beat Napier-Minor, but developed a serious leak, so that in the final heat Napier-Minor was substituted and completed the race with Trefle-a-Quatre as the competitor. Napier-Minor won, but on protest was disqualified, on the ground that having been beaten in a previous heat, she was not qualified to start in the final. Concerning Challenger, it was said that she showed speed superior to that of Napier II, but had trouble with her ignition apparatus, and was compelled to slow down and finish her round under reduced power.

The race of 1905 was held at Arachon, France, the challenging club being the Motor Yacht Club. There were three English competitors, Brooke I, a 300-hp. craft; Napier-Minor, renamed Competitor, with a new 100-hp. motor, and Napier II. The only French defender was Mab, a boat more nearly of the cruising than of the racing class, and the contest was easily won by Napier II.

The only foreign challenge in 1906 was received from America, and it was on behalf of the original Dixie, but her entry was withdrawn and she did not cross the ocean. The race, therefore, was left to the English boats, the three competitors being Yarrow-Napier, Daimler, a boat built for Lord Howard de Walden, and Rose en Soliel. This race was won by Yarrow-Napier.

In 1907 a new challenge was issued on behalf of Dixie, and she brought the trophy to America. She made the best of the start, gained a lead that she never lost, and defeated Daimler, Daimler II, a boat with three Daimler engines, and Flying Fish, the old Yarrow-Napier renamed.

The most recent contest which took place in Huntington Harbor on August 3, 1908, is well remembered. The Motor Yacht Club, the challenging party, sent over Wolseley-Siddeley and Daimler III, the first named being owned by the Duke of Westminster and the latter the property of Lord Howard de Walden. The Motor Boat Club of America into whose custody the cup had passed by virtue of the victory of Dixie of the previous year, was represented by Dixie II, the club’s main reliance, Irene II and Den, these last two having been put into the race in order to fill the team to its limit of three boats. Dixie II got the best of the start and made a runaway of it. The skipper of the Daimler II had some difficulty in getting her into perfect running order, but once started she forged ahead at terrific speed for a short distance. The one of her three motors "froze" and that was the end of Daimler as a competitor.

This year a challenge was received just before the first of February from the Motor Yacht Club of Great Britain but in May the Motor Boat Club of America received an intimation that there might not be any race because of the difficulty on the part of the Motor Yacht Club of securing a suitable boat, and early in July the challenge was formally withdrawn

(Transcribed from MotorBoat, Dec. 25, 1909, pp. 42-43)

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