1910 Harmsworth Trophy

The 1910 Harmsworth Cup Race
By Walter Langford

bullet A Challenge for the British International Trophy
bullet British Notes
bullet The Month in Yachting
bullet Huntington vs. Larchmont
bullet The Challenger
bullet International Motor Boat Cup Course
bullet Fast Motor Boats at Huntington
bullet One Boat Race

British Motor Boats Here

bullet Motor Boats Held Up
bullet Motor Boats Fail to Race
bullet Dixie II, Faster Than Ever, Wins Trial
bullet Motor Boats for International Race
bullet Dixie II Wins Motor Boat Race
bullet The 1910 Harmsworth Cup Race
bullet The British International Cup Race
bullet International Cup Race

The race for the British International Trophy, or the Harmsworth Trophy, as it is more popularly known, was won by the Dixie II, because of a mishap which occurred to the British competitor, the Duke of Westminster’s Pioneer. The race was run over a triangular course off Larchmont, and was witnessed by many prominent yachtsmen and motor-boat enthusiasts from their yachts and other craft anchored near the starting line. A considerable number of spectators also viewed the race from the shore. Without in any way discrediting the achievement of the Dixie II, a performance which was characterized by wonderfully smooth and steady running, every motorboat enthusiast must concede that the Pioneer is the faster boat. Indeed, it is generally admitted that the Pioneer is the fastest 12-meter motor-boat of our day. If she lost, it was largely due to American luck. The summary of the race is given in the table.


The British challengers were three in number and various in type. The Maple Leaf the Third, the original challenger, owned by Mackay Edgar, was practically broken in two during a try-out several days before the Harmsworth race in a heavy sea in Long Island Sound, hence, she could not take part. Since she played no great role, an extended description of her seems unnecessary.

Some details of the boats, no doubt, will be of interest. The Duke of Westminster’s new hydroplane Pioneer is 39 feet 11 ¾ inches in length and 7 feet beam. She is fitted with a 12-cylinder, V-shaped Wolseley-Siddeley motor of 400 horse-power, which drives through a clutch and reverse gear a single screw. The engine is one of those which earlier in the year made a record in the Duke’s fast boat Ursula. The bore and stroke of this engine 7 ¼ inches and 7 ½ inches respectively. The hull was constructed by Saunders of Cowes. It is planked with three skins of wood, fastened with copper wire, after the Saunders system. Its construction is very staunch and light.

The Pioneer has a flat-bottom hull and is a true hydroplane. When at rest her stern is 9 inches below the water line, while her bow is almost 6 inches above. When under way she rises to the surface at the stern, but her bow does not project out abnormally as in most hydroplanes. In other words, the angle with the horizontal of the bottom of the hull is much less than is usually the case. Nevertheless, she throws spray very decidedly, especially where there are any waves.

The other English hydroplane, the Zigorella, is a sister boat to the Miranda IV, which was designed by Thornycroft. Her hull is 26 feet over all with a beam of 6 feet. She was the smallest boat in the race. The engine is an 8-cyliner, V-shaped motor of 410 horse power, having the cylinders cast in pairs. The bore and stroke are 4 inches and 7 inches, respectively, and the valves are of large size, being 2 1/3 inches in diameter. The inner valves are arranged in the center of the cylinder heads, while the exhaust valves are in chambers at the side of the heads.

The Dixie II is 39 feet over all with a beam 5 ¼ feet. Her 8-cylinder motor is rated at 240 horse power. We have already published a description of this boat and engine, both of which were designed by Mr. Crane of New York. For this year’s race the mufflers of her exhaust pipes had been so turned that the open, funnel-shaped end was directed forward, a curved pipe out of the after end leading away the exhaust gases from the helmsman. The Dixie I, owned by E.J. Schroeder of the Motor Boat Club of America, won the Harmsworth Trophy in America in 1907. Dixie II with the same motor she now carries, but with her original hull, successfully contended for the trophy in August, 1908. She defeated the British challengers Wolseley-Siddeley and Daimler II. It was the wonderful reliability of the Dixie II that stood her in such good stead in the present contest.

The Nameless, the only other American defender besides the Dixie II, is a long, clean-lined boat, 39 feet on deck, 38 feet on the water, 6 feet wide on deck, and 4 feet 10 inches at the water line. Her four propellers are driven by four 8-cylinder V-type motors, built by W. Herreshoff. Her thirty-two cylinders give one the impression that she is all engine. Across her slightly rounded transom, just below her name, are eight exhaust outlets.


The start of the race was set for 2:30 P.M., but it was not until 3:30 P.M. of August 20th that the starting gun was fired. The Zigorella went over the line first, six seconds after the gun, followed nine seconds later by the Dixie II and Pioneer with bows even, and thirty seconds later by the Nameless, whose engineers had trouble in getting her motor into action. The Pioneer shot ahead in a way that left no doubt of her superior speed. At one time at least she seemed to be making 40 miles per hour. But less than a mile away from the line on the first round she stopped. Traveling at her extreme speed, the only possible way of supplying circulating water to the cylinders is by means of a scoop under the bottom. Seaweed jammed the openings of the scoop and clogged the water supply, with the result that the cylinders became hot. When the engineer unscrewed the top of the float feed chamber of the carbureter, gasoline overflowed and took fire.. Before it was extinguished the insulation had been burned off the wires leading to three of the cylinders, so that thereafter the Pioneer had to run on nine cylinders only.

While the Pioneer lay to, the Dixie II, a mile behind, dashed up and finished her first round at 3:49:50. Her elapsed time was 19 minutes and 50 seconds, a most creditable showing when it is considered that she was carrying 300 pounds extra weight, represented by her new mufflers and a third man in her crew.

The Zigorella trailed after the Dixie II, but she was never really in the race. The Nameless did not finish the first lap. It was impossible to get her thirty-two cylinders to work in unison.

After 16 minutes and 21 seconds of idleness, the Pioneer started again. Her chance was hopeless. She finished the first round at 4:5:28. The Dixie’s lead was far too great to be overcome, particularly with a crippled engine. The Dixie II finished her second round at 4:09:52, having completed the lap in 20 minutes and 2 seconds. At 4:22:59 the Pioneer finished her second round, having covered the ten nautical miles in 17 minutes and 31 seconds, an average speed of 34.55 nautical, or 39.46 statute miles an hour, a wonderful showing under the circumstances.

The Dixie II finished her final round at 4:29:44, (elapsed time 19 minutes and 52 seconds), and the Pioneer at 4:43:21, just 13 minutes and 37 seconds behind the Dixie II.

The Dixie II covered the 30 nautical miles in 59 minutes and 44 seconds, an average speed of 30.08 nautical, or 34.7 statute miles an hour.

The Zigorella was towed in by the committee boat, her feed pipes having clogged at the first turn of the second round.


The Dixie II won by her reliable and steady running, but it is impossible that she shall ever successfully compete for the Harmsworth Trophy again. The Pioneer is unquestionably a faster boat and next year’s American boat must be even faster than the Pioneer.

The accident to the Pioneer emphasizes the fact that it is unfair to limit the contest for the Harmsworth Trophy to one race only. That feeling seems to be shared by most motor-boat yachtsmen. Indeed, immediately after the race there was an informal gathering of the representatives of the Motor Yacht Club of Great Britain and the Motor Boat Club of America for the purpose of suggesting to Lord Northcliffe that hereafter a contest shall consist of three races instead of one race. So much expense is entailed in sending a boat to compete for the trophy, that it seems rather hard that a trivial accident, like that which happened to the Pioneer, should utterly spoil the chances of a contestant.

[Transcribed from the Scientific American, September 3, 1910, pp. 181, 190-191.]

(Thanks to Greg Calkins for help in preparing this page —LF)

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