1909 Monaco Regatta
The Monaco Motor-Boat Meeting
MONACO, March 31. Exactly 101 entries were received for the sixth motor-boat exhibition and racing meeting which was opened by the Prince of Monaco to-day. Of these about 90 were staged in the enclosure on the Condamine when the exhibition was opened, forming the finest collection of motor-driven craft that has ever been brought together. The large majority of the vessels were naturally from the yards of Continental builders though in the racing classes the British element was well represented, at least by quality if not by numbers.
A prominent feature of the show, apart from what may be best described as the "freak" element which always crops up in exhibitions of this character, is the big strides which the hydroplane type of design has made since last year. Boats built on the hydroplane principle are to be found in most of the classes, and the interest of the meeting is largely focussed upon the results which this type of vessel will achieve apart from trial spins under carefully chosen conditions. The actual racing does not begin until Sunday, so that at the time of writing everything is a matter of speculation, with all sorts of vague rumours floating around as to wonderful performances achieved but not authenticated. It is the introduction of a single-step hydroplane (the Alla-Va) into the big racing class which has given added interest to this important series. These are the vessels--the unlimited power class--which fight for such honours as the Grand Prix International, with a first prize of 10,000f, and the Prix de Monte Carlo, with a purse of 6,000f. for the winning boat. Hitherto the different nations--British, French, German, and Italian--have entered boats for these races built, broadly speaking, along much the same lines, with, of course, differences in detail of design; but now a hydroplane shoves her nose in and, with a sea like a millpond such as the Bay presents this afternoon, the ugly sister may give her competitors a good race. Alla-Va is driven by two Brazier motors, each stated to be of 130 h.p. She is the largest hydroplane yet constructed, having been built to the full over-all length of 15 metres. Against her are entered the French Panhard-Levassor, the American Dixie II, the American Standard, the British Wolseley-Siddeley II, the German Prinz Heinrich, and the Italian Jeannette, an international representation which it would be hard to beat. All the vessels are here with the exception of Jeannette, owned by Chevalier Florio, and built by Galinari. Jeannette is not quite finished, but it is hoped that she will yet be in time to compete and make up for the disappointment experienced by Signor Gallinari last year, when his boat, the Fiat-Gallinari, with Fiat motors on board developing over 500 h.p., was burned and sank in 20 fathoms of water whilst preparing for a trial spin over the measured kilometre
THE WOLSELEY BOAT
The Wolseley boat shares with Dixie II the honours of the exhibition ground as far as finish of construction and general appearance go. This is the third year in succession that the Wolseley Motor Company has been represented in Monte Carlo. Last year they won the Prix de Monte Carlo, and were beaten by only half a length by the French crack Panhard-Levassor in the race for the Prince of Monaco's cup. This year a new 15-metre launch to compete in the unlimited power class was built to the order of the Duke of Westminster, but owing to the recent bereavement suffered by his Grace the vessel has been entered in the name of Mr. N. Robins, the manager of the marine department of the Wolseley Company. The hull was built by Saunders, of Cowes, on the Saunders patent system of construction with a slight modification of the original patent. She is on the three-skin principle, the alternation being that the skins are riveted through the timbers as well as sewn together with copper wire. As regards design, the extra length of the hull--15 metres over all as against 12 metres in last year's boat, roughly speaking an additional 10ft.--has permitted finer lines throughout, the water-lines forward being practically straight for a distance 17ft. aft of the stem. The delivery lines are easy and the underbody of the hull aft is considerably flatter than was the case in the 1908 vessel. For her whole length of 50ft. she is built without a butt, and altogether presents a magnificent example of British boat construction. The total weight of the hull, complete with all its internal woodwork, including engine bearers, is less than 19cwt. In regard to machinery, the Wolseley company have adhered to the twin-screw arrangement which they have always advocated for high-power racing launches. The two units are mounted side by side with the valves on the inner side of each motor, the exhaust from both motors being discharged into a centre pipe running down the middle of the boat. The motors are each of 12 cylinders as compared with twin eight-cylinder motors in last year's installation, and are credited with being capable of developing 350 h.p. each. The distribution gears are mounted in the centre of the engines, having six cylinders fore and aft of them. The motors are fired by Bosch high-tension magnetos specially mounted on one shaft to give absolute electrical synchronization when it is remembered that there are three explosions for every half revolution of the crank shaft. From this brief description it will be apparent that the Wolseley Company have left nothing undone to deliver at the starting line a high-powered racing craft worthy to represent Great Britain in an International contest of such importance and widely spread interest.
Of the two American entrants I will first deal with Dixie II. She is 10ft. shorter than the British boat, and is driven by a single eight-cylinder Dixie engine. The hull is new, but the engine is the same one used in the race for the British International Trophy in American waters last July, when Dixie II beat last year's Wolseley boat, then owned by the Duke of Westminster. Whether she will be able to stand up to the additional horse-power and extra length of the British boat remains to be seen; but I am betraying no secret when I say that Captain Pierce, who is in charge of the launch, is quietly confident that his vessel will have to be seriously reckoned with. At any rate she is like her chief rival, a perfect picture of a boat, both in her lines and general excellence of workmanship.
Of the other representative from across the Atlantic one can speak with greater confidence. A more ungainly craft it would be hard to imagine than the Standard. She is fitted with the Standard double acting type of engines as supplied to the Austrian torpedo-boats with open crank shaft. There are six cylinders, equivalent to an ordinary type motor with 12 cylinders, as an explosion takes place on each side of the piston. The displacement of the Standard boat when in running trim is said to be a little over seven tons. The horse-power of the engine is put at 400 at 900 revolutions. The defect of the double-acting motor in a racing boat (that is to say the high centre of gravity) is very apparent in this instance as the tops of the cylinders are, roughly speaking, six feet above the centre line of the shaft. The result is that the vessel is very crank and distinctly unsafe to make a sharp turn at high speed. So much so was this the case that in a trial spin in smooth water the other day the Standard nearly capsized when taking a mark sharply, and the Harbour Master reported her as unsafe to race. With the idea of remedying this defect a fin keel six feet long and 18in. deep has been bolted on to her.
Panhard-Levassor, the successful crack of last season, is racing again in the same trim. Her engines have been slightly altered increasing her stroke by five millimetres. All that can be said about the German boat Prinz Heinrich is that, as far as looks go, she is even a worse eyesore than the Standard. What her owners expect her to do I have not been able to discover, and can find nothing about her engines. She is adorned with a placard stating that she has been built in 17 days, but she looks as if she has been turned out in seven days, and badly done at that. Amongst the spick and span craft in the exhibition grounds her appearance is that of a coaling tramp in a fleet of steam yachts. So much for the big racers.
Space prevents any attempt to deal in detail with the six remaining classes into which the vessels are grouped. In the third series of cruisers another British firm (Messrs. Thornycroft) have entered Gyrinus II is an improvement on last year's Gyrinus which ran so well. She is fitted with a Thornycroft motor similar to last year's engine, with the exception with a longer stroke, the new hull coming from the yard of Hart, Harden and Co. A noticeable feature in the design are fins fixed on each side of the hull below the water line. These fins serve the purpose of small hydroplanes, and Mr. Bernard redwood, who is in charge of the vessel, states that they cause the bow of the vessel to lift considerably and have added a knot to her speed. In this class there is another British entry in the shape of Secret, owned and raced by Mr. L. Waterhouse. She is driven by a Barriquand et Marre four-cylinder motor, her hull being built by Hart, harden, another excellent specimen of first-class Thames work. In this class, too, there is a nicely built hydroplane--the Labor-Fauber, driven with a four-cylinder Ballot engine. She is designed on the Fauber principle with eight short planes constructed in the form of concave steps and seven air ports leading from the side of the bottom of the hull, with the idea of destroying the vacuum under each plane by an intake of air. her trials and performances will be eagerly watched. Altogether an interesting week's racing may be anticipated.
(Transcribed from the Times of London, April 3, 1909, p. 20.)
[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page LF]
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