1910 Harmsworth Trophy
International Cup Race
Walter M. Bieling
Again the British International Trophy was successfully defended by the American boats, but owing to the fact that two of the British boats broke down and one failed to start the victory was a hollow one, especially since one of the British boats was so very much faster than the best American of the spectacle was sad to see through American eyes. Dixie III with the engine of Dixie II, which machine defended the trophy at Huntington two years ago ran in her usual consistent way and proved to be the winner, for which the craft should receive all the credit due her; but there is no gainsaying the fact that Dixie has met her master at last and that Pioneer, the Fauber-Saunders hydroplane, is miles faster.
The course this year was laid in the open Sound off Larchmont and theoretically was run by the Motor Boat Club of America, but through its affiliation with the Automobile Club and this organization in turn with the Larchmont Y.C., the identity of the former club was completely lost; but it certainly was a sad spectacle to see the Larchmont Club, with its record of hundreds of races, sharing its pr4estige with a social organization and a picayune motor boat club whose sole excuse for existence is the fact that years ago one of its commodores had the necessary sporting blood to go over to England and bring back the Harmsworth Cup, now known as the British International Trophy.
About a half-dozen boats were built this year for the defense of the trophy, but of the entire lot not a single one made good to the extent of getting into the finals and covering one round of the course, and had it not been for Dixie III, now in her second season and her engine in her third season, the trophy would now be in its way back home. The team of three finally chosen, for the simple reason that there were only three boats on the scene, were Dixie III, Restless and Nameless. The former craft has been described many, many times; and of the normal type of hull she is as good as any afloat for her length. Restless was designed and built by the Aitkin-Wheeler Company, and engined by Herreshoff, a nephew of the talented of the same name. She had two four-cylinder engines of the V type driving twin screws. She was on the scene at the start but did not get going in the race. Nameless was built and engined by the same combination, with four engines and four screws, and started but did not complete one round, leaving Dixie alone to carry on the hopes of America.
The race was scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 20th, and at the appointed time everything seemed to be in readiness, but for some reason or other the combination committee ordered a postponement of one hour, which apparently was entirely unnecessary and which action annoyed the British helmsmen beyond measure. The same thing happened last time and it is to be hoped that if we ever have a race again the performance will not be repeated. Men who handle these high-speed boats are at considerable tension and in an event of the importance of this contest the vagaries of a regatta committee should not in any way detract from the interest of the affair or the efficiency of the crews, unnecessarily.
The preliminary gun was finally fired at 3:25 p.m. and at 3:30 the boat were sent away on their journey. Zigorella was away first about ten seconds after the gun. Dixie about three seconds later, and Pioneer next about not more than a second or two behind, with Nameless about 14 seconds after Pioneer. Restless, the other member of the American team, did not start, and Maple Leaf II of the British team, the challenger, lay at her moorings out of commission with a broken back, the hull, it was reported, not being strong enough to support the weight of the engines.
As the boats shot over the line it was apparent almost instantly, even to the most unnautical spectator, that Dixie had met her match, for Pioneer simply sailed through the fleet as if they were stuck in the mud. The distance from the start to the first mark is exactly 2 1/6 miles and the distance around the turn a half mile. As Dixie struck the first buoy Pioneer had straightened out for the run down the Sound on the last buoy of the first turn, showing that in a distance of 2 9/16 miles she had distanced Dixie exactly one-half mile, which caused the slide rule experts present, who had taken the trouble to time the boats, to fairly gasp with astonishment. At this point Dixie was leading Zigorella about a quarter of a mile with Nameless just holding her own with the last-named boat. It was now obvious that the race was between Pioneer and Dixie with a question as to how much Dixie would be beaten, barring accidents. The excitement had hardly subsided when Pioneer was sighted coming along the home stretch for the first turn with Dixie a speck in the distance. Pioneer appeared to be going strongly and drove along in beautiful style, but as she came abreast of Scotch Caps about 1 ¾ miles from the home mark, she slowed down, and when abreast of the buoy to be westward of this point about 1 ½ miles from the finish she stopped dead. The writer happened to be in a patrol boat at this point and upon going over discovered the craft on fire in the region of the carbureter. She was blazing right merrily and it looked as if the greatest 40-footer to date was about to lay a course to Davy Jones. The engineers and helmsman sadly viewed the blaze but did not in any way lose their nerve. Fortunately a steam yacht in the vicinity sent over a large fire extinguisher and the fire was squelched. Under the conditions most racing men would have retired, but not so with this crew. Hardly was the blaze out before they started to work like Trojans to get her going again, and a mighty cheer went up 15 minutes and 2 seconds later when the boat again got underway and dashed after the flying Dixie in a hopeless stern chase. For one circuit she tore around in good time, doing the 10 miles in 17 minutes 31 seconds or at the rate of 39.43 statute miles an hour; however, the fire had spoiled her chances and she was unable to sustain this speed for another round, and Dixie won easily by over 13 ½ minutes. In the meantime Nameless had passed away at the first mark and Zigorella had engine troubles which delayed her considerably. Presently she got going again and came around for the first complete circuit, going very fast, but again got into difficulties and was towed in.
For those who care to figure how fast Pioneer was going it might be mentioned it took three minutes flat for Dixie to pass her after she had stopped, after completing 8 ½ nautical miles, the time made by Dixie for the 30 nautical miles being 59 minutes 44 seconds, which is at a rate of 30.13 nautical miles an hour. The course was 10 nautical miles in length and was covered three times.
The three British boats, strange to relate, considering the conservative nature of the people, were all of a type which might be described as not being of the "normal" type, and a few years back would have been cheerfully described as freaks. Pioneer, owned by the Duke of Westminster, is a hydroplane designed by Fauber and built by S. E. Saunders, of East Cowes, Isle of Wight. She is 39 feet 11 ¾ inches over all, 7 feet breadth, and has a twelve-cylinder 400-h.p. Wolseley-Siddeley engine, one of the pair which have done such wonderful work in the Duke’s 60-footer Ursula. The engine has a bore of 7 ½ inches and a 7 ½-inch stroke which drives a single screw; the propeller being keyed on the shaft some distance from the end which rotates in a bearing or bracket attached to the rudder.
Her underbody is constructed with six concave planes the sides of which rake aft from the center line, really making twelve planes, and in appearance resembling nothing so much as a gigantic fish with its scales ruffled, if such a vague simile may be imagined.
Zigorella is a peculiar craft, designed and built by the Thornycrofts, 26 feet over all and 6 feet wide, equipped with an 8-cylinder, 120-h.p. Thornycroft engine of 4-inch bore and 7-inch stroke. The hull was built by Luke of Hamble. Above water she looks to be the regulation type but below water from midships to a point near the stern she looks as if the man who had cut the model had allowed his jack-knife to slip and had gouged a large slice out of each bilge. When Zigorella ran she did very well, but her radius of action was limited as chronicled above.
Maple Leaf II, the challenging boat, unfortunately broke her back before the start, or rather her appearance would lead one to believe that such was the case; for as she lay at her moorings her bow, and particularly her stern, seemed to be all out of plumb and high in the air. She seemed a big powerful craft, but as she did not get going her possibilities could not be determined. It was noticed, however, that her aft sections were considerably hollowed, a method of construction which has been developed by one of the American designers with considerable success in small boats. Maple Leaf II is 39 feet 6 inches over all, 8 feet 4 inched breadth, and has a twelve-cylinder V-type engine of 7-inch bore and 7 ½-inch stroke developing 400-h.p. It is unfortunate that she was strained and did not get going, for she had every appearance of being a sturdy craft and would have probably done very well has there been any sea.
Analyzing the results of the race the fact comes home that when the six best boats of the two foremost yachting countries of the globe, competing in a race for the championship of the world put up the following record, six contestants, two of which fail to start at all, two failed to finish, and of the balance one loses the contest on account of a breakdown, and only one of the fleet manages to get all of the way around without mishap, there is something rotten in Denmark; or in other words, is our record only one in six, 16 2/3%, or are we not paying enough attention to detail? The American craft simply were not ready, and again eleventh-hour methods prove a mistake; as for the other fellows, they should have won the mug and it’s their own fault that they didn’t, despite what the experts and the overpatriotic may believe.
(Excerpts transcribed from The Rudder, September, 1911, pp. 93-99.)
[Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page —LF]
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