1908 Monaco Regatta
1908 Monaco Regatta
By the fifth Monaco regatta of 1908, the revolution of the little Ricochet hydroplanes was well underway. Numbers X, XVI and XVII were entered by Maurice and Claude LeLas. Built at the Deschamps-Blondeau yard, each was fitted with a two-cylinder V-type Motorcycle engine as built by Alexandro Anzani of Courbevoie, whose power plant was soon to power Louis Bleriot over the English Channel.
Once again, The Motor Boat correspondent described the nature of these freaks: `On man sits right aft in a flat box with a transverse `nick' amidships, both hands on the steering, there being two independent rudders and tillers, to port and starboard, respectively. There is a spray hood rigged up for'ard protecting two exhaust pipes ... I wish him joy of the mixture of spray and exhaust gas that must get into his eyes when racing!'
Top honors still went to the hugely expensive displacement giants and there took place an epic duel between Chevalier Rene de Knyff in the Tellier-hulled Panhard-Levassor with four engines of 120hp each, coupled two in tandem, versus Wolseley-Siddeley, a 40-foot Saunders-sewn hull fitted with two eight-cylinder 200hp motors from the Wolseley Tool and Motor Car Company Ltd (which company now held a small shareholding in Sam Saunders' new Limited Liability Company). As jockeyed by Noel M. Robbins, the stocky, cool-headed Wolseley-agent, the british boat won the 50km Prix de Monte Carlo, whilst Panhard-Levassor won the Championship of the Sea. Their speeds over the mile were exactly matched whilst over the kilometre, Panhard-Levassor was precisely one and 2/5 seconds faster, with a speed of 35.6mph.
Then following Monaco, Wolseley-Siddeley went elsewhere and won the Cinzano Cup at Nice, the Pearl of the Medi- terranean at Palermo and several other smaller races with speeds of over 30 knots. For this success, in mid-season, both Wolseley-Siddeley and the skills of her most capable pilot were acquired by the Duke of Westminster.
Returning from the Boer War, aged 23, and the gallant hero of several cavalry actions, the Duke had inherited an estate which covered some 600 acres of London, and 300,000 acres of Flintshire, besides estates in Cheshire and Scotland. Nicknamed Bend Or after a famous derby racehorse winner, the Duke spent a small fortune on fox hunting, polo, motor car and motor launch racing. In addition, he was a fearless horseman, and in the 1903 Grand National, his mount Dumfree fell, throwing its rider. The horse broke its neck and had to be shot, and the Duke escaped with severe bruising.
Like King Edward VII, Bend Or welcomed the motor car. he was frequently at the new Brooklands Motor Course and although he seldom raced himself, he became familiar with the public as a confirmed speed addict on the roads of Great Britain.
Following his purchase of the 40-foot Wolseley-Siddeley, Bend Or started off with the weekend races beside the Royal Motor Yacht Club's Enchantress. On one weekend, the Duke and Robby had a friendly match with Lord Howard in his Daimler II. The Duke gave the Lord an 18-minute start over the 24-mile course and won by over three minutes at an average speed of 32mph.
(Transcribed from Kevin Desmond's Power Boat, p. 36. )
[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page. LF]
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