1910 Harmsworth Trophy
Huntington vs. Larchmont
In the mind of the public, as well as in that of many people more or less closely interested in the coming British International trophy race, there has been a misunderstanding as regards the course on which the race is to be run, and there have been paragraphs in the daily newspapers which have been misleading. While it is true, that by the agreement between the three clubs Larchmont water is presumed to be the place for any international race in which they are jointly interested, it is quite proper that either club should express a preference in the matter.
At a meeting of the Motor Boat Club of America on March 24th, there was offered a resolution which read in effect something like this: "Resolved that in the opinion of this club the forthcoming race for the Harmsworth cup should be run over the course of the Motor Boat Club of America in Huntington Bay. And further resolved that this club’s two representatives in the joint committee be instructed to work to this end."
This was not an assumption of authority in the matter, but was really an expression of opinion, and it was an unanimous opinion, too. The secretary of the club was not present at this meeting, in fact he was ill and at some distance away. The next day, or immediately thereafter, he was informed by telephone of the proceedings, and, either through lack of clearness on the part of the acting secretary in stating the case, or through a misunderstanding on the part of the secretary, the latter understood that the action of the club was of such a nature as to fix the place of the race, and believing that he was authorized, and in fact directed to do so, he notified the secretaries of the English clubs challenging that the race would be run in Huntington Bay.
The first meeting of the joint committee of two representatives of each of the three clubs at which a quorum was present, held since the challenge was received, occurred on April 11th, and the [principal business of the meeting was to determine the place of the race and to outline the work of preparation for it. At that meeting there were five members present, two from the Motor Boat Club of America, two from the Larchmont Yacht Club and one from the Automobile Club. The two members of the Motor Boat Club, acting under their instructions, and doubtless on their own belief, urged the merits of the Huntington Bay course. The two Larchmont men urged the merits of such course as might be laid off in front of Larchmont Harbor, while the one member of the Automobile Club was of the opinion that interest in the race would be promoted if it were held in the waters of what he considered a strong and well-known club. There was some hesitation at taking action, in the absence of the other Automobile Club member of the joint committee, but it was remarked that the action could be reconsidered at any time in the immediate future if there were reason for it, and in the end the vote was three to two in favor of Larchmont.
The announcement of this action in the daily papers the next morning created considerable comment, some of it a sort to be rather irritating to the various interests concerned. At present the matter seems to be subject to reconsideration, and there is a feeling among the various interests, and also among the members of the joint committee, that there should be no further action until a full meeting of the committee is held.
The attitude of the Englishmen has considerable bearing in the matter, inasmuch as previous to the meeting of the committee, and, in fact, previous to the meeting of the Motor Boat Club of America referred to, the secretary of the Motor Yacht Club of Great Britain, in communicating with the secretary of the Motor Boat Club of America, said something to this effect: That he had heard it suggested that the race was to be run off Larchmont; that while that conveyed no impression as to the character of the course to him, he trusted that the course would be laid out strictly in accordance with Section 3 of the rules pursuant to the deed of gift, which reads: "The race shall be held over a suitable course in sheltered waters of the club holding the cup, or failing that, in similar waters in Great Britain or Ireland." In fact, it was this expression of opinion on the part of the English official that was in some degree responsible for the action taken by the Motor Boat Club of America.
As to the merits of the two suggested courses, there can be no doubt that the Huntington course most nearly complies with the stipulation of "sheltered water." It is, of course, impossible to hold a race within Larchmont Harbor, and equally impossible to even start the race inside the breakwater, and, presumably, if the race were to be run at Larchmont, it would be started from the point at which sailing yachts are sent away. A course, if laid out there, would either be oblong, along the north shore of the Sound, or possibly triangular, crossing the Sound to one of the racing buoys on the south side. Now, the distance from the end of the breakwater at Larchmont to the nearest point of land on the opposite side of the Sound, at the westerly entrance of Hempstead Harbor, is full three miles. It would be impossible to lay out a course west of a line drawn between these two points, because of rocks and shoals, while to the eastward of such a line the point next nearest to Larchmont is between four and five miles distant. Whether might be the opinion of such a distance coming within the definition of sheltered water in the manner of commercial navigation, a stretch of water so wide would scarcely come within the letter of the rule governing the racing for the Harmsworth trophy.
Moreover, a race at Larchmont would be beyond the view of the general public, excepting such as came up in and remained on boats. There are no landing facilities at Larchmont or nearer Larchmont Harbor than Mamaroneck on the other side, and New Rochelle on the other, for anyone other than members of Larchmont Yacht Club. Such hotels as are at Larchmont are of a limited size, and could not accommodate casual visitors in any considerable number; while from the land there would be no possible opportunity for the stranger to view the race. There is, to be sure, a strip of shoreline to the westward of Umbrella Rock, facing the open Sound, which is a public park, but the nearest point of this public park is more than a mile away from the usual starting point of races at Larchmont, and, because of the reefs in front of the park, it would be impossible to bring the starting line nearer. All the rest of the shore property around Larchmont is private property, very jealously guarded, and absolutely inaccessible in as far as the general public is concerned. Moreover, the waters in front of Larchmont and outside of the breakwater are open to any sweep of wind from something north to east around the rather more than half circle to the west, and men who sail in these waters do not have to be told that a fine jump of a sea is frequently created by a good southwest breeze; just the breeze that sailors want, but creating the condition of water that would prevent racing motorboats from making their normal speed.
On the other hand, Huntington bay is a U-shaped indentation of the course, three miles or more from the headlands to the head of the bay, and its waters are absolutely sheltered from any winds excepting the unusual northeaster and the casual northwester, a quarter of the way around the circle. Whenever the wind is such as to create rough water in Huntington Bay, it would be absolutely impossible to race motorboats in any part of the westerly end of the Sound, whereas, with the wind in any point from something south of east to something north of west, there might be a heavy sea running outside, while the waters of Huntington Bay would be perfectly quiet. It is true that the course laid out two years ago projected slightly beyond the headlands, but the Motor Boat Club was quite ready to shorten the course and bring it within the bay if the Englishmen had so desired, but the fact is, that they were perfectly satisfied with the Huntington course as laid out, and some of them expressed the opinion that it was the best course over which they had ever raced. The matter of allowing it to project slightly beyond the headlands was merely a concession to the notion that three times around a course of ten nautical miles, making thirty miles in all, conformed to the minimum of distance required, and made "even figures," whereas four times around an eight-mile course, for example, or five times around a seven-mile course, was not quite as satisfactory in a sentimental sense.
In addition, the opportunities offered to the general public for seeing the race are infinitely superior at Huntington. Both shores of the harbor are of such a character and the ownership is such, that the public is admitted without question, while at the head of the harbor the land for a distance of nearly a mile is in the form of a plateau, elevated some thirty feet above the level of the water, and offering a point for sightseeing sufficient to accommodate an enormous number of people. The public has free access to these grounds, and anyone may go to Huntington and see the race without any formality whatever, other than that of paying his railroad fare. There are hotels, too, at Huntington, of sufficient character to take care of as many people as might come. There are landing facilities for anybody who arrives by boat, and the visitor may go ashore, move around as he pleases and depart as he likes, either by water or by land, without let or hindrance. The water furnishes an ideal course for the race, while the shores form an amphitheater from which any number of people can view the contest, and no one need be under any obligation to a friend who happens to be a member of a club.
(Transcribed from MotorBoat, April 25, 1910, pp. 37, 38.)
* * *
There is Also a Squabble in England
Notwithstanding the apparent harmony that generally exists between the British Motor Boat Club and the Motor Yacht Club there is a tremendous jealousy between them. The Motor Yacht Club regards itself as the boss club in England, and whenever opportunity arises for pushing forward its claims as "cock of the walk" it always does so. This naturally not to the liking of the British Motor Boat Club which, while making no pretensions to be the premier club, regards itself as equal to the Motor Yacht Club. The correspondence which passed between the English clubs and the Motor Boat Club of America in connection with the challenge for the British International trophy showed to what length the Motor Yacht Club is prepared to go in attempting to secure to itself the leading position. After the publication in Motor Boat of America of all the correspondence of boat parties the British Motor Boat Club sent a copy to the Motor Yacht Club, asking whether the correspondence therein contained correctly showed the attitude of the Motor Yacht Club. As a result communications passed between the commodores of the two clubs, and the matters in dispute were satisfactorily settled for the time being, but the British Motor Boat Club will, if it should unfortunately become necessary, again take up the attitude which it had taken up when the correspondence was first published. The settlement which resulted from the communications that passed between the two commodores was really of a private nature, and was intended to put an end to an open quarrel which everyone would have deplored.
To find the cause of jealousy which exists between the two leading English Clubs one has to go back to the year 1903. In that year, when England had to defend the famous Gordon-Bennett trophy of the motor world, the course selected was in Ireland, and enthusiasm was great enough—which is very rare in the United Kingdom—to provide a whole week of competitions. The petrol motor was at the time just breaking from its infancy, and was still regarded somewhat in the light of one of the world’s great wonders. Sir Alfred Harmsworth, now Lord Northcliffe, the owner of the Daily Mail and of some hundred other publications, was, and still is, an enthusiastic patron of the motor. The idea occurred to him that the sport which was then provided by motor cars on land could as well, if not better, be provided on the water. Up to that date no competition for racing motorboats had ever been held, and the trophy which he put up was, therefore, the direct instigator of the racing motorboat boom which occurred in the two following years, but which has now slacked off considerably. His idea for the competition was based upon the rules of the Gordon-Bennett trophy, that is, no country should be able to send more than three entries. With the race so closely related to motoring it was only natural that the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland, now the Royal Automobile Club, should be charged with the trusteeship of the trophy, because at that time there were no separate motorboat clubs of any importance. The automobile clubs of the various other countries then regarded themselves as the bodies specified in clause 7 of the Deed of Gift: "vessels representing a country shall be selected by a recognized club of that country," and both in 1903 and 1904 the entries were all made by automobile clubs. In the autumn of the latter year a meeting was held in London for the purpose of forming a club which would be concerned solely with motorboating. A good deal of opposition was shown at the meeting, unofficial representatives of the Royal Automobile Club contending that there was no need for a separate motorboat club, but the proposal was ultimately carried and the club was formed under the title of the British Motor Boat Club. The Royal Automobile Club then found itself in the position that it would be holding motorboat races while a properly constituted and well-supported motorboat club was in existence, and it, therefore, decided to form an affiliated club to which it should hand over its motorboat interests. Some ultra-keen member of the British Motor Boat Club, learning about these intentions and hearing some rumor that the offshoot of the Automobile Club was to be known as the Marine Motor Club, promptly registered that title at Somerset House. The farce designed to occur duly took place, the club being formed with a flourish of trumpets under the title of the Marine Motor Club only to find that it had immediately to change its title. Another good name was, however, found, and the Motor Yacht Club came into existence. At this stage another check was met. The chief Automobile Club in each country had come to be a legislative body for the organization of sport. While the English Automobile Club might have maintained a similar position in the marine world had it decided to fight for that object such a course became impossible for the Motor Yacht Club, because there was already the Marine Motor Association, which had been constituted to legislate on all matters dealing with motorboat sport. To everyone except to the principal of the Motor Yacht Club this was evident, but never has that body ceased to put itself in the attitude of a boss club.
Again and again has this led to unpleasantness, but, since the British Motor Boat Club has always continued to flourish and as there has been no recent quarrel, a friendly understanding was brought about between the two clubs last year, and they actually held a combined regatta. With the challenge for the British International trophy friction again ensued, and although matters have been made smooth for the present it is not certain how soon a breach will again be opened. If it should become necessary to hold an eliminating race—which at present seems unlikely—the British Motor Boat Club will claim the honor of organizing it. The Motor Yacht Club would in that event dispute the right of the British Motor Boat Club, and then we shall have the amusing incident of a judge sitting to decide his own dispute. Clause 7 states: "If there be any dispute as to what is a recognized club of the country the trustees shall decide, and their decision shall be absolutely binding." And under Clause 1 of the conditions of the Deed of Gift as amended in 1905 the Motor Yacht Club is named as trustee of the trophy.
THE ENGLISH BOATS
So far as present information goes, there is only one definite competitor. This is the boat with which the British Motor Boat Club has challenged. Although a great deal of talk has been heard at the Motor Yacht Club nothing definite as yet has been settled by any member of that club, but I give this news with reserve and qualify it by the ensuing statement. Sir John Thornycroft is undoubtedly building a boat which would be eligible for the race. He is pursuing the experiments which he started not yet two years ago, and of which Miranda III, which made her appearance last year, was the first outcome. When he built that boat he had no intention of racing it, and had it not been for the persuasiveness of his younger son, Tom Thornycroft, that boat would never have been entered in any race.
However, when this year’s boat is complete it is quite possible that Tom Thornycroft’s persuasiveness will again prevail. And, therefore, I regard the Thornycroft boat as a possible competitor. Whether she races or not she is likely to be the fastest boat yet built of 40 feet length or under. This accounts for one of the Motor Yacht Club entries, and the other is rumored to have been a hydroplane with an engine of some 60 or 80 hp. That proposition seems now to have fallen through.
Regarding the Linton Hope boat it is very unlikely that anything will be done. Linton Hope, it will be remembered, put the weight of his reputation as a naval architect to a 25-foot boat of the skimmer type which should have a speed of 43 knots. In some previous notes about two months ago I gave my opinion that he would not get a hull strong enough for the speed with the weight which he allowed for it, namely 800 pounds. He has explained to me that the form of construction that he would use would give him sufficient strength, and the method which he would follow would certainly give him great advantage. It would not be fair to him to divulge his ideas yet, but if he finds anybody to build the boat I will explain in due course the special features of his hull. There is just a possibility that the Duke of Westminster, who will again race his champion 50-footer, the fastest motorboat in the world—as distinct from hydroplane—may decide to build a 40-footer for the British International trophy. As he is now learning to fly a Farman aeroplane the enthusiasm which he recently showed for motorboating may be diverted to flight. Should he build he would again pin his faith to Wolseley engines.
THE CHALLENGER AND OTHERS
Maple Leaf II is the name which will be given to Mr. Mackay Edgar’s boat, which is the challenger of the British Motor Boat Club. Mr. Edgar is very keen indeed to put up a good race, but in ordering his engine from a firm which has had no experience of engines of big power he is undoubtedly taking big risks. The engine has been built by the New Orleans Company, of Twickenham, a firm which has been in the motor car business practically from the commencement of the industry in England. New Orleans cars, however, have never been built completely at the company’s works. They have simply been erected there. Mr. Astell, the head of the firm, is a clever engineer, but, with no previous experience of big engines, he will be extraordinarily lucky if he does not encounter a number of snags. Maple Leaf II will have a twelve-cylinder motor of 400 hp. The cylinders are cast separately, and have been designed with large core panels to facilitate their accurate finish. They are mounted in V fashion, six a side, and the usual advantages are derived from this form of construction in order to reduce the weight, that is to say, all the valves face inwards, there is only one camshaft, etc. Although Mr. Astell was responsible for the design I believe that the greater part of the work was carried out in Coventry, of course, under his supervision. Without any previous tuning-up, without so much as a single run on the test-bed, the engine was installed in a 50-foot boat and sent to Monaco for the international regatta. Mr. Edgar’s object in pursuing this course is liable to be misunderstood. The performance of the boat at Monaco must be completely be ignored, for the sole reason of taking her there was to give the crew some experience of motorboat racing. Mr. Edgar’s instructions to Mr. Astell, who accompanied the boat, were on no account to attempt to get anything like the full power out of the engine, and he stated that he would be completely satisfied if they ran the engine at a slow speed and went to the starting line for some of the events, solely for the purpose of obtaining some practice in making starts.
Undoubtedly this is a very wise course. From Monaco the boat returns to England, where she will be raced at the early meetings, and then she will be sent over to Kiel for the racing there. She will have no rest, since it is intended to try the engine out in order that any weak spots or faults may reveal themselves before the engine is transferred to the 40-foot hull for the final trials. This 40-foot hull is very lightly built and embodies several features which the designer reckons to be of considerable benefit. Mr. Burgoine, from whose board the plans have come, has built several successful racing boats of about 22 knots, but he has had no experience in anything in the nature of 30 knots or more. He is a sound man, however, and his designs will probably prove good. Thus in the case of the hull as well as of the engine Maple Leaf II must, until events prove otherwise, be regarded solely as a good trier. She carries everyone’s good wishes, and, since there is plenty of time between now and August and everybody connected with the boat is as keen as mustard, it is to be hoped that she will fulfill her owner’s desire and put up a good race.
THE OWNER OF THE CHALLENGER
A native of Montreal, Canada, Mr. Mackay Edgar has been resident in England only for the last five years. Until last year he had had no experience of motorboats, although he has long been a zealous sailing man. Maple Leaf was the name he gave to the boat which introduced him to the marine motorboat world. She was a Saunders hull, 40 feet in length, which had originally been engined with a Wolverine motor. Into her he put a New Orleans of about 50 hp. and obtained a speed of about 20 knots. Flying the burgee of the British Motor Boat Club she took part in several race meetings, but never came into particular prominence. It was his experience of this boat that induced Mr. Edgar to build a larger boat with which to compete for the B. I. Trophy. He is exceedingly keen on making a good race. In fact, I think that notion is superior in his mind to bringing the trophy back to the United Kingdom. He is racing solely for sport, and, though naturally he would rather win than lose, his paramount wish is to have a good, keen race which shall provide the pleasure which sportsmen can feel when sportsmanship is everywhere shown. He will probably not be aboard the boat during the race, as he considers that the keenness which the builders are showing in getting the boat ready entitles them to the reward of actually running the boat in the big event for which it has been built. He will, of course, be present. Having challenged from Montreal for the Seawanhaka Cup, he has a double racing interest in the United States this year. If he wins that race the cup goes to Canada, whereas, if he wins the B. I. Race, that trophy comes back to England. If he wins both, it will be an achievement quite unparalleled in the history of big races. Mr. Edgar is a member of the London Stock Exchange and a most affable man, to entertain whom will give the Motor Boat Club of America more pleasure than even the closest race.
(Transcribed from MotorBoat, April 25, 1910, pp. 38-40.)
[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page --LF]
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