Speed Boat Development in Europe [1935]
By "Vitesse"

The recent changes in the Gold Cup rules are considered by European motor boat racing men as a definite step on the part of America towards associating herself more closely with international sport. But, while the present hull restrictions remain in force, Americans must not he disappointed if there is little foreign competition in this classic series in 1935, for, at the moment, there are no twelve-litre boats in Europe which conform to the Gold Cup rules. All are out-and-out step hydroplanes with gear boxes and, in some cases, superchargers.

However, just as soon as the Gold Cup Committee removes all limitations on hull size and form, so that the class conforms to that recognized by the International Union, rivalry should be keen and American boats could compete in the big European meetings on a level with the foreigner instead of being badly handicapped as was the case at Lake Garda and in Florida.

Americans would also have the opportunity of attacking the world's twelve-litre records. At the moment, Gold Cup boats are capable of something better than sixty, but because of the limitations imposed by the Gold Cup rules it is doubtful if their best speeds with the larger motors will compare next year with those registered in France and Italy.

At the end of 1926 the twelve-litre mile record stood at 63 m.p.h. in the name of Dr. Etchegoin's Sadi III, a Picker hydroplane with a Hispano-Suiza motor. The following September the doctor attained 66 m.p.h., and in 1929 increased his speed to 67.2 m.p.h. Thus, for several years, France held this honor.

But in November, 1931, after Italy had made great strides in motor boat racing, Antonio Becchi, who won so handsomely in Florida early last year, registered 68.2 m.p.h. with his Lia III. Count Rossi also made an attempt with Montelera XII but failed, owing to trouble with his two six-litre 16-cylinder Maserati car units.

In 1933 France hit back. M. Vasseur built Yzmona and caused not a little surprise by attaining an average speed of 77.75 m.p.h. on the Seine. Within five months Italians had recaptured the record, Guido Cattaneo, a young engineer at the Isotta factory, countering successfully with the remarkable speed of 85.51 m.p.h. Cattaneo's Baglietto hydroplane Asso was powered by an Isotta Fraschini motor boosted to give 470 b.h.p.

The 24-nautical mile record for twelve-litre boats was first established a year ago by Cattaneo with an average speed of 66 m.p.h. Vasseur, with Yzmona, has since clocked 77.8 m.p.h. for this distance, a performance better than his previous " mile " figure of 1933, which suggests that Yzmona's capabilities have been considerably improved:

From these figures it will be gathered that future American twelve-litre boats will have to skate at well over ninety to get on the record books of the International Motor Yachting Union — a speed which, only six years ago, stood in the name of Gar Wood as the world's unlimited record.

A Novel Drive Developed

One of the most interesting features in the European design of small inboard hydroplanes during the past year is the employment of an angular drive which allows the propeller to exert a horizontal thrust without the necessity of introducing the double bevel gear system usually found in transom drives.

This new method of transmission is not, of course, original, for it has been employed for some time in model power boats, but it has now been developed in Italy, by the makers of the B.P.M. marine motor, to such a pitch that the remarkable speeds attained in Italian 1˝-litre racing boats are said to be largely due to its efficiency.

The common practice in racing craft is either to install the motor forward of the main plane with a direct inclined drive to the propeller, or to locate the motor well aft and transmit the power through a forward gear box. In the one case, the weight is in the wrong place for really high speed work; in the latter, power is lost and the transmission is heavier and more expensive. But with the B.P.M. system, the motor can be mounted at a comparatively steep angle abaft the step, the drive shaft can be quite short and the propeller can operate really effectively.

It will be seen from the illustration that the whole drive is encased in a neat streamlined casing and the shaft angle is only 14°. The propeller is located abaft the after plane and is provided with a cavitation plate. The rudder is offset to port and the rudder post is well clear of the water.

The boat illustrated is Sans Atout, A. Valtolina's 1˝-litreracer, which at the moment holds the world's 1˝-litre mile record at 66.91 m.p.h. The last time America held this record was in 1929 when Ralph Snoddy attained an average speed of 52.55 m.p.h., at Balboa, with Miss Rioco. There is nothing very special about Sans Atout’s underbody, construction being on the lapped plank system found in some outboard hulls. The 4-cylinder supercharged B.P.M. motor is said to develop but 110 hp., a figure far below that of Miss Rioco’s straight-eight Miller unit.

So it would appear that there is something to be said for this new drive!


(Reprinted from Yachting, February 1935)

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