1908 Monaco Regatta
Monte Carlo, Monaco, April 1-13, 1908

Monaco Races

Entries for the Monaco Meeting
Monaco -- The Race Meet of the Year
Monaco Races
Motor-Boat Racing (April 4-9)
Motor Boat Racing (April 10-12)
Aftermath of Monaco
1908 Monaco by Kevin Desmond
The Motor Yacht Race Week at Monaco

The fifth annual exhibition and regatta of the International Sporting club of the principality of Monaco took place this year from the 1st to the 13th of April and was by far the most successful yet held. Over all sixty power boats of all sizes and types being seen on exhibition and racing.

The details of the regatta were very carefully worked out by the officials in charge and every possible contingency attendant to the racing provided for in the printed conditions, which are in book form and number about fifty pages. The entry of a boat in the races must be accompanied by a document showing that the vessel is actually either built or in course of construction, and only boats which have been on exhibition are allowed to participate in the racing.

The prizes, aside from works of art and other trophies presented by private individuals, amounted to one hundred thousand francs, and twenty per cent of the value of each prize was reserved to be divided equally between the builders of the hull and engine of the winning boats. By this system and the strict racing conditions the management has absolute control of the contestant and everything is run on thorough business methods.

The boats as a whole showed a vast improvement over last year's entries, particularly in engine design and installation. An interesting fact in connection with the extreme high-speed racers was that the four highest powered boats, Panhard-Levassor and Grand Trefle representing France, Fiat-Gallinari representing Italy and Wolseley-Siddeley representing England, were all equipped with twin or triple-screws, Grand Trefle having triple-screws. The interest of the entire regatta centered in the Championship of the Sea, a 200-kilometer race between these flyers, each representing the last word in engine and hull construction of their respective countries. Wolseley-Siddeley attracted the most attention from the fact that she is the challenging boat for the British International Trophy, held by the Motor Boat Club of America. The race was for all the boats at the regatta on a scratch basis and the winner was generally conceded to be one of the above-mentioned high-powered craft, the general dimensions of which are of interest:

























Grand Trefle






Never before in the history of power-boat racing have four such magnificent racing craft been brought together, and great hopes were entertained that existing records would be shattered; but, unfortunately, Wolseley-Siddeley was unable to start on account of clutch trouble; Fiat-Gallinari caught fire and was destroyed during a practice run, and Panhard- Levassor won easily, being over an hour ahead of the second boat. The official time given out was 3h. 45m. 2s., which works out better than 33 statute miles an hour for the 200 kilometers, or 107.92 nautical miles. However, the fact that wonderful records have been made over this course before which could not be duplicated elsewhere, leads one to believe that the records will at last stand investigation. Panhard-Levassor was designed and built by Tellier, who brought out Panhard-Tellier, winner of the same race last year. Grand Trefle, while maneuvering before the race, ran down a pleasure craft containing a photographer and his son, who were engaged in taking views of the races. The craft was cut completely in two and the boy fatally injured.

The Prix de Monte Carlo at 50 kilometers, second in importance to the race mentioned above, was won by Wolseley-Siddeley, with Panhard-Levassor 2m. 13s. astern, the winner covering the course of 50 kilometers (27 nautical miles) in 56m. 17s. Panhard-Levassor was over the line on the gun fully 300 yards ahead of Wolseley-Siddeley, but despite the handicap the English boat steadily overhauled her competitors, and won with ease.

In the mile and kilometer trials, Wolseley-Siddeley was beaten by Panhard-Levassor in both events, and the consensus of opinion among the spectators was that while these boats are very evenly matched, the Panhard-Levassor is the faster craft. It is rather unfortunate, for the sake of comparison, that the French boat is nine feet longer, the additional length undoubtedly helping her speed in broken water.

The hydroplanes added much to the spectacular effect of the regatta and the speed attained by these peculiar craft is wonderful. Several of the boats had the engine installed practically at the stern, with a shaft extending forward and geared to the propeller shaft proper. While unable to cope with any sort of sea, the boats were not absolutely put out of commission by a small bobble as predicted, and in several of the races operated in perfect safety in quite a fresh breeze. For the power of engine the hydroplane is unquestionably the fastest type of hull and the results attained are little short of wonderful. being very light, which by the way is the secret of their success, the boats at times would literally leap from wave to wave, and a number of them coming end on present the appearance of a huge flat stone ricochetting along the surface of the water. On several occasions boats were seen to jump almost their entire length out or rather along the top of the water, particularly Ricochet 17.

The boats at the regatta were all of a faster and more seaworthy type than those seen in previous years, and the total absence of freaks, if the hydroplane may be classed by itself as a legitimate type, was very noticeable, a proof, perhaps, that to attain speed the hull design need not necessarily be freakish and extreme in design.

(Transcribed from The Rudder, May 1908, pp. 460-463. )

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

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Leslie Field, 2001