1906 Monte Carlo
Monte Carlo, Monaco, April 1-15, 1906

Monaco Fortnight

Monaco Power Boat Regatta
Monte Carlo: The Exhibition
Monte Carlo: Monaco Fortnight
The Monaco Meet of 1906

The chief value of the Monaco fortnight does not lie in the spectacular aspect of the racing, but in the educational opportunities afforded by an exhibition immediately followed by trials and races which demonstrate the practical value of any innovation shown. While this phase of the meet, of course, does not appeal as strongly to the general public as the more spectacular part, that same public in the end benefits by it, as any new features of construction which are proved to be of value by trial at Monaco are at once adopted by builders throughout the world.

The peculiarly advantageous conditions which obtain at Monaco are possible nowhere else, and its situation within easy distance of all the Continental motor factories and boat shops, its ideal environment from a scenic standpoint, its date in the first warm days of Spring, the facilities offered for exhibiting the boats and for quickly and easily placing them in the water, and the liberal prizes, in some cases almost equaling the value of the boat, have all helped to make it easily the greatest motorboat event of each year. The Continental and English builders have always risen to the occasion and sent their best boats to strive for the prizes, and as a result the motorboat enthusiast can here study a remarkable collection of models at his leisure during the exhibition and then can compare their actual performances during the racing.

For the builders also it is a clearing house for ideas, for each can learn from the others and this feature in itself is of more value to the sport of motorboating and tends more to general improvement in design than any other. Builders are in general inclined to be diffident about showing their product to each other on the ground of giving away trade secrets, forgetting possibly that progress can only come through an interchange of ideas, that no one man or firm can know it all, and that the sciences and arts in which the greatest advances have been made are those in which a free interchange of ideas have prevailed. On the other hand, Mr. Private Owner is also benefited, as only by the severe trial of hard racing is the value of the ideas, which later will be used in perfecting some detail of his boat, demonstrated; only by trying to the point of destruction is the limit of strength learned. If builders had not had the courage to cut weights in motors we would still be using motors which weight 100 to 150 pounds per horse-power, instead of from 15 to 50. Considered from this standpoint, the failures and breakdowns are as valuable lessons as the successes, both to builder and user.

This year's meet shows good progress and along rational lines. In the first place, the severe weather of last year showed that the hulls were too light to stand the enormous strains of racing, and all this year's hulls were more heavily built. Unfortunately only one day of heavy weather was encountered and this showed no weakness of hulls, but a failure to properly protect the motors from flying water or to provide suitable bilge pumps, compelled several competitors to withdraw in a waterlogged condition.

In form nearly all the boats shown were designed on the double wedge principle with square or veed transom, the notable exceptions being Mercedes W.N., an out and out freak, which was such a dismal failure as to render a repetition of her form unlikely; Martini III, built on the tetrahedral principle, a modification of the double wedge, only more so, which apparently failed because of insufficient protection, and Yarrow-Napier, a perfectly flat-bottomed scow, which in spite of her form did exceedingly well. Of course, modifications of this form were as numerous as were the hulls, each designer working out the problem to his own idea, but this general form was omnipresent. One feature of design which differed from our own as generally built, was the width ratio. None of the racers, irrespective of length were under five feet broad. For the 8-meter class this gives a width one-fifth of the length, whereas on this side a ratio of 6, 7 or 8 is often used. In view of the enormous powers fitted on this length abroad, this width ratio us undoubtedly necessary to guard against torque reaction. In the large sizes as shown at Monaco, however, the ration becomes greater and the lines correspondingly finer. In fact, it is said that Caflit was built from the same moulds as La Rapiere, with greater spacing.

In details many innovations were noticed. For instance, rudders were smaller, experience proving that the rudder proportion can safely be decreased as speed is increased. In Antoinette IV two small rudders were used, and in both La Rapiere and Seasick, one small rudder was placed off the center line on the port side forward of the propeller. In each case this innovation was designed to make steering easier and to reduce the enormous strains on the tiller and steersman. Hoods and motor covers were universal, in some cases ventilators were fitted and screens to protect the steersman were also much in evidence. In propulsion, single shafts and propellers were more common and it seems to be well established that this arrangement will give the best results unless much larger powers than are common are to be used. Propellers also were less freaky in design, but this should not be taken as indicating that they were perfect, for the chances of several otherwise fine outfits were ruined by badly designed propellers. And the fact still remains that a good combination of motor, hull and propeller, plus handling will defeat a poorer combination with greater power.

One remarkable thing about the racing was the closeness of speed of the leaders of all classes. For instance, Antoinette IV, a 26-footer, made 26.4 miles, while Delahaye, a 60-footer, only did 26.6, and in the same race Fiat XIII made 26. Again, some of the so-called cruisers made better time than some of the out and out racers. This would seem to indicate, as was the fact, that the larger boats were not powered as heavily in proportion as the smaller ones and that the practical limit of speed for motorboats under the present conditions of construction is nearly reached, this limit being about 30 miles per hour. At any rate, as motors are at present manufactured, the weight increases proportionately faster than the power, so that the advantage to be gained by increased length is offset by the greater weight of the motor. Under these conditions it would seem unnecessary to devise any system of handicapping or rating, as, if each maker goes the limit in power, the resulting speeds will not vary to any great extent. That this is approximately true can be readily seen by comparing the times of the leaders of the several races.

Last year the palm undoubtedly went to the 26-foot class, and the 60-foot class was a fizzle. This year it was expected that the 40-foot class would produce the best times, and that the 60-foot class would do well. The 40-footers failed to do anything startling, due to withdrawals or failures to enter, and the brunt of the work was done by Yarrow-Napier, which earned a fine record for reliability, though rather outclassed for her size in speed, her records being equaled or approximated by boats of her own class or smaller. The 60-footers fulfilled expectations. Delahaye, a discarded hull and motor of the owner of Dubonnet, beat the latter roundly, and Mercedes D.L., which, while not fast enough for her company, did extremely well and performed with great regularity. This is the class from which naval vessels will come and its success should lead to its early consideration and adoption by the various navy departments.

It would be profitable to carefully consider the performance of each boat, studying its form and deducing conclusions, but space forbids. Still, with the table of results, one can draw his own conclusions and figure out the advance in motorboat design as shown in this very important meet.


The third Monaco Meeting, which came to an end on April 13th of this year, has been very successful. Though the number of entrants, 94, was not quite so great as that of the previous meeting, 6 more boats actually appeared than the year before, bringing up the number present in the exhibition to 66. There were thus a very large number of absentees, a fact which called forth much adverse criticism from the public and strengthened the bad impression created in previous meetings by the failure of so many craft to fulfill their engagements. But if the proportion of boats entered to the number exhibited on April 4th, the opening day of the exhibition, was small, the ratio of boats which succeeded in finishing their races to the number in the exhibition was smaller still; whereby the reputation of the marine internal combustion motor for reliability suffered a still further loss, as was clearly proved by the caustic comments appearing in the daily papers.

It is extremely unfortunate that it should have been so, and, moreover, exceedingly unfair to the many useful and efficient types of motors now in existence that their credit should suffer for the troubles of untuned racing engines which are after all only in the experimental stage. It must not, however, be assumed the motorboat-racing on this side of the Atlantic is to be regarded as a useless sport; on the contrary, it is acknowledged by experts to be of the utmost value as affording the best possible method of arriving at a light, yet very powerful motor, suitable for use on torpedo-boat destroyers and other craft in which high speed is essential.

It was evident that the purely French boats did not form nearly so large a proportion as in 1905, but still those which were present represented the very best firms in the country, and seemed likely to afford good racing.

The cruiser classes did not attract much attention compared with the racing boats, but for all that were there some very fine examples of boat and motor construction were to be found among them, notably Calypso, a boat built by Pitre, with a Mors motor, which created several new records. The general impression conveyed by the cruiser display was, however, that the French definition of a cruiser only served to produce a modified racing boat of restricted cylinder capacity and of little or no use for pleasure purposes, hence the class loses most of its importance.

Weather conditions on the opening day left nothing to be desired, and in bright sunshine and only a little wind a big crowd collected on the terraces of Monaco to watch the racing. The sea had calmed down and there seemed every prospect of good sport. Racing was to start at 10:30 a.m., and for some time before this a number of the little 6 1/2-meter cruisers were running up and down in front of the Tir aux Pigeons, a big platform supported on high arches springing straight from the foot of the rocks. On this platform was a big flagstaff and yardarm from which were hung five big black balls used for starting the races. Five minutes before the start one ball was dropped, the others following at intervals of one minute, the fall at the last being the signal to start.

Sixteen boats put in an appearance and all got away together, though Mendelssohn, Extra Dry, Nautilus Mutel and Takumono soon left the rest behind. The course in this as in all the other races was round a more or less regular pentagon of 10 kilometers' circumference, so that the boats were never very far from the starting point. It was soon obvious that Mendelssohn was much the fastest boat, and Takumono, Miall Green's smart little English boat, was not long in taking second place, which she kept till the end of the race. By a curious irony of fate Extra Dry got swamped during the third round and came to an abrupt stop, leaving the third place to Nautilus Mutel.

The 8-meter racing boats, in the afternoon, aroused a good deal more popular enthusiasm, though only four boats started, Seasick, Vol-au-Vent, Antoinette IV, and Rapiere II. Seasick got away at a tremendous pace and rather ahead of the other boats, but Antoinette IV and Rapiere II were close behind, Vol-au-Vent being left some distance astern. It would have been impossible to distinguish Seasick from Rapiere II except for the tricolor flying from the stern of the latter, for both boats were exactly alike and were almost completely hidden in spray thrown up from under their bows. Antoinette IV, on the other hand, had a fairly unbroken bow wave, but made a tremendous fuss aft which must have absorbed a lot of power. Seasick ws certainly the fastest boat, and would have won but for her motor not being sufficiently protected from water; as it was, her ignition gear was soon disabled and the motor stopped. The race then became a duel between Antoinette IV and Rapiere II, the former eventually finishing two minutes ahead of her rival.

The second day of the meeting was not nearly so fine as its predecessor, the sea being rough and the wind high. This was a great disappointment to everyone, as the 12-meter class race in the afternoon was one of the most important events of the meeting and was expected to produce excellent sport. In the morning only seven boats started in the second cruiser class and of these four were put out of the running by ignition trouble, which seems to have been the bane of the entire Monaco flotilla owing to the almost universal adoption of the high-tension system without adequate protection. Of the remaining three competitors, Nihil was certainly the fastest, but she was unfortunate in damaging her steering gear; apparently one of the wires was broken, for she suddenly swerved off the course and had to be stopped while a temporary repair was effected to enable her to get back to port. Meanwhile Excelsior VIII and Mais-je-Vais Piquer were left to complete the course, which they did in the order named.

In the afternoon, in a rising wind and sea, only Yarrow-Napier and Martini III, a Martini-motored boat built of steel and with a ram like a battleship, came up to the starting line, and from the first the English boat plunged ahead of her adversary. She seemed to be none the worse for being stove in and everyone was warm in praise for Mr. Edge, who had in the most sportsmanlike way spared no trouble to get the damage made good. No attempt was made to force the boat, as it was obvious from the first that the race would be practically a walk-over, and her owners, Lord Montagu and Lord Rothschild, who were running her, very wisely decided no to throw any unnecessary strain on the hull. She covered the course in two hours, 41 seconds, her average speed being a little over 13 knots, and so repeated the victory of her prototype, Napier II, in the previous year.

After Yarrow-Napier had completed one round of the course the other English boat, Siola, came out of the harbor, having been delayed by a broken chain of her starting gear; she started in pursuit of Yarrow-Napier, but shipped a tremendous quantity of water, which necessitated the bilge pump, being kept running at their full capacity, added to which her engineer, Thomas, was washed overboard and some ten minutes were lost in picking him up. The incident caused something like a panic ashore, for the motor had to be stopped and the boat lay wallowing in the trough of the sea, threatening every moment to go to the bottom. However, she got running again all right, thanks to the ignition gear being enclosed in a water-tight box, and completed the course without further incident. About the same time Fiat III came out and ran over the course at a fair speed, but not nearly fast enough to make up the time she had lost at the start.

Having effectively spoiled the second day's racing, the weather cleared again on Tuesday, and the 8- to 12-meter cruisers started in the morning under a cloudless sky and on a clear blue sea. Only nine boats had appeared out of 18 entered, a very poor muster, and of these only six finished. But if the quantity was poor nothing could be said against the quality of the boats, for the first three, Calypso, Delahaye, Nautilus and Excelsior IX, all finished close together and all easily beat the record of Fiat X, established the year before. Quicksilver, the only English cruiser besides Takumono, was expected to give a good account of herself, but for some reason she was not by any means at the top of her form and finished a bad fifth.

Being regarded as the type from which motor torpedo boats and destroyers would eventually be evolved the performances of the 12- and 18-meter class of racers in the afternoon was awaited with considerable interest, but it did not provide any very exciting sport. Dubonnet's engines seemed to be in fairly good trim, but being coupled to a hopelessly unsuitable propeller, had no chance of showing their capabilities; indeed more than one French boat was badly handicapped in this way, scarcely anyone connected with the motorboat industry seeming to have an elementary idea of propeller design, nor did they appear to be acquainted with even the meaning of the words "cavitation," "slip," or "blade area." Mercedes W.N. made some attempt to run, throwing up enormous masses of spray, but not attaining any speed; added to which her helmsman seemed to have no control over her and after only just escaping running full tilt into a tug, she opt away over the course, passing the mark buoys quite indiscriminately either to port or starboard. Mercedes D.L., a pretty enough boat, was not nearly up to racing form and was quite out of it, leaving Delahaye, the only other competitor, to score an easy victory. The huge motor of this boat had undergone a severe course of tuning up during the Winter, and was running with great regularity. A healthy, deep-toned roar proceeding from her exhaust spoke of perfect carburetion and reliable ignition.

The big cruisers' (12 to 18 meters) race the next day attracted no attention and, altogether, Wednesday was unanimously voted dull, everyone missing the excitement afforded by the racing boats and the sputter and rattle of their open exhausts. Four boats started, but two of them, Florentia XIII, and Fiat XII, were completely outdistanced by Pampa, the winner, a F.I.A.T. engined boat, and Lorraine. The latter is an extremely handsome boat and considerably faster than Pampa, but owed her defeat to some small dearangement of her motor a short distance from the finishing point.

For the principal event of the meeting, the Championship of the Sea, twenty-five boats presented themselves, all getting away in a bunch. The course was the same as for the other races, but had to be covered twenty times, making a total of 200 kilometers. The racing boats soon detached themselves from the remaining craft and shot ahead, making a very pretty picture. Away at one end of the line could be seen one big white hull tearing through the water, getting well ahead of her adversaries; it was Fiat XIII, and round after round she drew steadily ahead, looking an almost certain winner. As it was, she stopped for fifteen minutes on the last round but one, because of insufficient fuel, and so lost the race. Meanwhile, Rapiere II, Antoinette IV, Yarrow-Napier and Delahaye were going for all they were worth, and it was simply a question which of them would be able to stand the racket for the four odd hours necessary to cover the distance. Rapiere II went wrong four rounds from the finish, through springing a leak, and gave up the race, while Delahaye gradually drew ahead of of Antoinette IV and Yarrow-Napier. On the last round but one all three boats passed Fiat III, and it could be seen that her crew were making frenzied efforts to get their two motors running again; they were successful just after Yarrow-Napier passed and managed to catch up and pass her, so finishing third in a race, which, but for a piece of bad luck, they would easily have won. Thus Delahaye was the winner, with Antoinette IV a good second and the other two boats close behind, all the four being within seven minutes of each other, a very near thing considering the length of the course. The English boat, to do her justice, was by no means at her best or she would probably have been a fairly easy winner. He spray hood had been badly damaged in the accident before the meeting and there had been no time to do more than patch it up, with the result that it leaked badly and an almost constant stream of water falling on her engines put two out of the eight cylinders out of action. She was conspicuous as being the only silenced racing boat at the meeting. The time of the winning boat was 4 h. 40 m. 12 s. (speed, 23.4 knots, or twenty minutes slower than the Panhard-Levassor's record of 1905.

The next day was devoted to the handicap races, in the morning for cruisers, and for the racers in the afternoon. The officials responsible for the handicaps were certainly to be congratulated for having hit off the capabilities of the boats to a nicety, for some wonderfully close finishes were obtained. Time allowances were given at the start, the limit boat, of course, going off first, followed by the others at intervals and finally by the scratch boat. In the cruiser class, Florentia IV was the winner, but Calypso was by far the fastest boat, her time of 1 h. 22 m. 12 s., a speed of 19 3/4 knots, being easily a cruiser record for the distance of 50 kilometers.

But if the morning racing was exciting, the sport in the afternoon was better still. The two Mercedes boats were sent off together at 3 p.m., both going very badly; twenty minutes later Yarrow-Napier was started, and one minute afterwards Seasick and Antoinette IV were sent off. The English and Italian boats, both going hammer and tongs, left the other boats hopelessly out of it and then ensued a neck and neck race, sometimes one, sometimes the other getting ahead. Entering the last straight run home Seasick, steered by Baron de Caters, her owner, was leading, but Seaton Edges, who was in charge of Yarrow-Napier, made a final call on his engines and shooting past Seasick at a speed which could not have been far short of 27 knots, won by the narrow margin of 5 seconds. It was a fine sight to see the winner as she crossed the line, smothered in a cloud of spray and with about 8 feet of her bows clear of the water. Seasick had accomplished a slightly better elapsed time, 1 h. 4 m. 58 s., thus establishing a new open sea record in her class (8 meters); her speed works out at just over 25 knots, but this was exceeded on Lake Lucern last year by another boat, Antoinette III, her speed being just under 27 knots for the same distance (50 kilometers).

There was no interesting racing on the following day, but the last day of the meeting was destined to see some more records broken in the standing mile and flying kilometer speed contests. There were to be three heats, the first open to all boats not exceeding 8 meters; the second for the 8 to 12 meter class, and the third for the 12 to 18 meter boats. Though several cruisers ran, they had, of course, no chance against the racing boats. In heat 1 Rapiere II was beaten by Seasick, which in so doing created a new sea record in her class for the flying kilometer of 1 m. 10 3/5 s. (speed 27 1/4 knots).

In the 12 meter class Fiat XIII was the winner (time for the flying kilometer, 1 m. 11 1/5 s.), Yarrow-Napier failing to make a good run as one of her engine bearers had been slightly twisted the day before owing to the extra strain put upon it by her weakened hull. However, always game, she got one engine running and struggled over the course, thus earning the right to boast of being the only racing boat at Monaco which had started and finished in every race for which she could be entered without making a single stop en route.

The third heat was won by Delahaye, and accordingly this boat, Seasick, and Fiat XIII were eligible for the final round, for the winner of which (the fastest aggregate time over mile and kilometer) Prince Albert of Monaco had presented a handsome cup. This was won by the 12-meter boat, though her times were slower than those of Seasick in her heat. Baron de Cater's boat did not do so well as before and only finished second, Delahaye being third.

(Transcribed from The Motor Boat, May 10, 1906, pp. 1-6. )

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

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