1907 Monaco Regatta
Monte Carlo, Monaco, April 1-16, 1907
The Monaco Fiasco
Unfortunately for the success of the Monaco meeting and the reputation of its promoters, recent developments seem to justify the opinions that the length of the course was not as stated in the programmes. There is no doubt of course but that the contestants raced their boats in good faith, and, had only the larger and higher powered boats broken records, suspicion would not have been so violently aroused, but when all hands, from the smallest cruiser to the swiftest racer, break world's records with apparent ease the whole performance takes on a fishy look.
The Monaco Exhibition is quite different from anything of the kind attempted in other countries, being a sort of combination show and race meet. The competing boats are placed on exhibition in a large space in the open air for several days--this year the boats were shown for three days--and then launched in turn and allowed two or three days for tuning up. The assortment of boats this year was, without doubt, the most complete showing of the many different racing types ever brought together in one spot. Ample opportunity was give everyone to thoroughly examine the boats and not the least interested were the designers and builders, who were thus afforded a chance to examine, criticize and compare the rival productions with their own. The budding naval architects being on hand in force taking copious notes and making numerous sketches for further reference in turning out world-beaters. The various models of the new type--the hydroplanes--attracted no end of attention from the fact that the majority of the spectators had not the faintest idea as to the theoretical reason for their shape. All were of the single hull with an abrupt vertical jog or transom in the bottom about midships, with the exception of one which is composed of a series of athwartship boxes held together by girders and driven by an aerial propeller. Afloat the craft resembles a windmill mounted on a number of horse troughs.
While several of the racing craft were, in the main, of the freak type, none showed any evidences of striking originality in hull design, with the possible exception of Fiat XV. She is of a most peculiar model and looks every inch a powerful brute, an idea of her form and principal characteristics being best obtained by referring to the illustrations. By far the best looking boat of the lot, considering only the question of ease of form
and the impression of speed, was Panhard-Tellier. Like all of Tellier's boats she has a clean, smooth finished appearance to her underbody, which shows nothing but speed in every line. The English boats, Daimler II and III and Flying Fish, are also good looking boats, but not up to Tellier boats either from the standpoint of appearance or in construction.
During the practice spins when the boats got out on the course it was evident that the course had been laid out with a view to providing the most spectacular rather than the most practical test. The course was shaped like a drawn out parallelogram, once around being 6 1/4 kilometers or 3.37 nautical miles; rather a short course to attain speeds approximating 30 knots per hour.
The actual racing extended over a period of nine days. The day of the first race broke clear and fair, and hundreds of all sorts of craft were assembled about the starting line. As the entire length of the course lay in full view of the shore thousands of spectators lines the length of the course and lustily cheered the racers as they dashed by, Panhard-Tellier and Fiat XV coming in for the majority of the applause. The first event of the meet was scheduled for 10-30 a.m. and was for 6 1/2 meters and under. Twenty-one boats made a ragged start and all but six dropped out or broke down, not a very auspicious beginning for the first race of the world's premier event of its kind. Capoulon III and Nautilus-Mutel got the best of the start and were never headed. Gamine was about the fifth boat over the line but finished a fair third.
As all three winners exceeded by over twenty minutes the time of Mendelssohn, the winner of last year's event, the nautical sharks at once decided that the course was short. Such being the case the actual times are of little value, consequently only the comparative times are of interest. Capoulon III won from Nautilus-Mutel by only 16 seconds with Gamine 3 min. 17 sec. behind the second boat.
In the afternoon the 8-meter racing class was sent eight times around the course for a distance of 50 kilometers. La Rapiere II, with her 120-h.p. Panhard running perfectly and with Mr. Tellier at the helm got a beautiful start with Fiat XV close up. These boats made a grand race but for the fact that Fiat had carburation troubles would have finished together. La Rapiere II finally dashed across the line 1 min. 41 sec. ahead of Fiat XV, with SeaSick third and La Mouvette fourth. When the winner's time--better than thirty knots--was a announced, part of the audience went wild with excitement; the other part, while not belittling the performance of the Tellier boats, were more than convinced of the inaccuracy of the course. Already the name of Tellier was on everyone's tongue, as three of the four winners were Tellier boats, and the appearance the powerful Panhard- Tellier was awaited with interest.
On the second day the weather proved disagreeable that the only race won was that for the 8-meter cruisers, which was won by Mais-je-vais-pipuer, practically the only boat to finish, as the second boat, Dalifol-Petroleum, was not even timed.
The storm having over the race for the large cruisers on the morning of the third day was run off on time, and resulted in a victory for La Lorraine II, with All 'Erta second and Florentia III third. The times in this race were also very much better than last year, the first boat bettering the time of the previous year's winner by over forty-eight minutes, leaving no doubt in the minds of the newspaper fraternity that the timing was a farce so far as actual records were concerned.
In the race for hydroplanes, the first of its kind ever held and perhaps the forerunner of some wonderful results from this interesting type of marine freak, only three boats started, Motogodille, Obus-Nautilus and Count de Lambert's windmill craft, Obus-Nautilus winning easily, as the Count's boat caught fire and Motogodille broke down.
The race for 12-meter racers in the afternoon resulted in a grand victory for Panhard-Tellier. The English Daimlers, of which so much was expected, were badly beaten, and both withdrew before the third round of the course had been completed. Mercedes D.L. was second, a long distance astern of the winner. This race was a great disappointment, as something really interesting had been expected from the array of apparently wonderful performers, which had come to the line. Had the weather conditions been different perhaps another tale would have been told, but the spectacle of one after another of the powerful racers being put out of commission from one cause or another until only two remained, was disheartening to the extreme and did much to lessen the interest in the racing.
The events of the fourth day from a spectacular point of view failed to arouse any enthusiasm. In the race for cruisers in the 8 to 12 meter class. fourteen boats started over the 50-kilometer course and four dropped out before the finish. The winner proved to be Ulysse with Gallinari I second. The navy launches turned out nine strong and although the times were slow the boats at least made good weather of it and finished in good style, B. V. Jacqueline being the winner.
The "Championship of the Sea." the winning of which title was the real reason for the presence at Monaco of many of the high-powered entries, was scheduled for the first race of the fifth day of the regatta and sixteen boats lined up for the starting signal. Better conditions could not be imagined, the sea was like a mill pond and remained so throughout the entire race of 200 kilometers or about 108 nautical miles. This race was the sensation of the regatta and the crowning feature of the ridiculous attempt to establish world's records for the Monaco course. The story of the race is soon told; from the crack of the gun to the finish it was nothing but Panhard-Tellier and while the speed announced, some 35 miles per hour, caused a few smiles, nevertheless the performance of the French boat will long be remembered by those fortunate enough to have witnessed the masterly manner in which Panhard-Tellier was tooled around the circuit. Round after round was made with the utmost precision and in almost the same time. of the sixteen starters all but six dropped out and Fiat XV, the only boat capable of giving Panhard any sort of a race, broke down on the eighteenth round and limped back into the harbor. She is a wonderful craft and doubtless the fastest boat of her length in the world. Her withdrawal caused some intense disappointment in the Italian camp, which was somewhat alleviated later when All 'Erta with a Fiat engine finished in second place.
The actual speed of the winner will probably never be known, but it certainly was as fast or faster than the same distance had ever before been negotiated by a gasolene-driven craft, and much sympathy was felt for M. Tellier, who is deserving of much credit.
On the two following days the weather again proved fickle and racing was postponed, but on the eighth day of the meet the weather having cleared sufficiently the 50-kilometer events for racers and cruisers was run off in the morning. About twenty boats started and only six finished. Not all were incapacitated by engine troubles, however, as some of the contestants proved very weak sportsmen and dropped out of the race when their chances of winning began to look poor. Mercedes D. L. won in the first class with Flying Fish some two minutes astern. In the cruiser class Ressac won from Roi D'ys by over seven minutes with Pilote I third.
The mile and kilometer tests took place in the afternoon and of course resulted in a win for Panhard-Tellier in the racing class, her time for the standing mile being 2 min. 9 sec. and for the flying kilometer 1 min. 16 sec. La Rapiere was second, with Flying Fish third. The best speed of the winner being 28.79 statute miles per hour. All 'Erta won the trials for cruisers, with Despujols Mutel second and Nautilus Mutel third.
On the following day the regatta was wound up with some uninteresting races, which were called off before the finish because a breeze sprang up. The system of handicapping was so involved, however, that the results were not officially announced, which fact did not disturb the spectators in the least as the public interest was by this time at a very low ebb.
(Transcribed from The Rudder, June 1907, pp. 548-552.)
[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page. --LF]
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