1920 Harmsworth Trophy
Solent, Cowes, England, August 11-12, 1920

The B. I. Trophy Races
By Captain Frank C. Bowen

bullet When Miss America Won The Harmsworth Trophy
bullet Miss America Wins British Trophy
bullet The B. I. Trophy Races

The B. I. Trophy for 1920 goes to America, and in spite of a certain amount of very natural disappointment that we failed to win, Miss America is such a wonderful little vessel that no British sportsman has any time for very much regret. She deserved to win, and the task of getting the trophy back next year is big enough to he well worth the trial. .

When French and Spanish boats were entered, although the nationality was sometimes only technical, a very much better international tone was expected. There was considerable disappointment when neither flag was seen at the line, but with the new conditions next year it is hoped that several countries will be represented.

America's luck in losing Whip-Po'-Will by fire two days before the race was deplorable, and need not be dwelt upon. As it happened it made no difference to the racing, which saved the slightest possibility of ill-feeling. Slightest possibility is written advisedly, for the whole meeting went through with a cordial harmony which is not always experienced in international meetings.

The American team does not require describing. The three British boats eventually chosen, out of six who were in the running, were Despujols I, Maple Leaf V and Maple Leaf VI.

In view of the choppy seas frequently met with off Ryde, considerable doubts were expressed as to the wisdom of including Despujols I in our team, for she is only 26 feet 3 inches long. She is owned by Mr Louis Coatalen, and raced under the flag of the British Motor Boat Club. She is fitted with a 430 h. p. Sunbeam-Motobile engine placed well aft. The gear-box is forward and the shaft runs aft again under the engine. She is a single-step hydroplane.

Maple Leaf V is owned by Sir E. Mackay Edgar, twice winner of the trophy, part purchaser of the much-discussed Chepstow National Shipyards, and one of the keenest power boat men in the country. She is a wonderful ship, a 39-foot single-step hydroplane, designed and built by Saunders of Cowes, into which has been crowded no less than 1,800 h. p. in the shape of four 450-h. p. Sunbeam engines driving two shafts. She was steered by Mr. Harry Hawker, whose unsuccessful attempt to fly the Atlantic won for him even more admiration and attention than would have fallen to his lot had he been successful.

The third boat of the team was Mr. J. F. Edgar's Maple Leaf VI, a much more normal Saunders production. Her twin screws are driven by two 550-h. p. Rolls-Royce engines. Her 39-foot hull is also of the single-step hydroplane type.

Before the races are described space ought to be found to mention the arrival of the 35-foot auxiliary yawl Typhoon from America. Her owner brought her over to enable himself and his friends to see the races, and he managed it with a couple of days in hand. It was a truly sporting effort, and the cheery trio thoroughly deserved the congratulations which were showered upon them by British yachtsmen. Her arrival at the meeting caused a lot of discussion which it is hoped will bear fruit in the near future.

The high-speed races for the British International Trophy are very essential to the development of hydro-plane hulls and reliable engines, but that is only one side of the sport of power boating. Just as important is the production of a healthy cruising hull and a serviceable engine that will run for days or weeks without stopping. A second International Trophy given for a transatlantic race of power yachts not exceeding sixty feet in length would be a splendid thing for both sport and science. The ocean has been crossed many times by such vessels in perfect safety. Admitted that chance would enter into the contest rather more than is altogether desirable, but it would be a race worth recording and a real test of material and personnel.

The First Day’s Racing — Tuesday. August 10th

At the advertised starting time there was just enough chop to make it appear that it was the chance of the 38 and 39-footers, but appearances proved deceptive. The whole fleet were well away from the line when the gun went and the first to cross, Maple Leaf V, was 12 1/3 seconds after it. Miss Detroit was across 8 seconds later, with Miss America nearly two seconds after her. Despujols I tailed the line, nearly 34 seconds after the gun.

In spite of her ten-second handicap, the little American soon passed everything and completed the first round in 7 minutes 14 2/5 seconds. Maple Leaf V's time was 7 minutes 41 4/5 seconds and after her came Miss Detroit (7 minutes 35 2/3 seconds), Maple Leaf VI (8 minutes 35 seconds) and Despujols I (9 minutes 14 1/5 seconds).

In the second round Maple Leaf VI's tremendous power began to tell, and she gradually reduced her disadvantage to the leader. Miss America was doing her very best, and was timed at 7 minutes 1 3/5 seconds, which worked out at 56.63 knots. Even then she apparently was not going quite all out. Miss Detroit suffered with her engines and tailed the list with a time of 9 minutes, 46 2/5 seconds.

The third round gave Miss America the race, for the complicated arrangement necessary to bring her power to bear brought Maple Leaf V trouble and she had to slow down, taking nearly eleven and a half minutes to do the round. In the next round she stopped entirely, but Miss Detroit picked up. Miss America then had nothing to fear, and with the possibility of a break-clown and the next days racing in wind, eased up a good deal.

The aggregate times taken to do the whole course of 33.084 miles were as follows:

Miss America

37 minutes

34 3/5 seconds

Maple Leaf VI

41 minutes

19 2/5 seconds

Despujols I

43 minutes

32 4/5 seconds

Miss Detroit V

46 minutes

11 4/5 seconds

Maple Leaf V

76 minutes

24 4/5 seconds

The winner's mean speed was 31.45 knots.

Second Day’s Racing. Wednesday August Eleventh.

The weather on the second day was all that could possibly be desired for power-boat racing, with a calm sea and scarcely any wind. All the engines behaved in exemplary fashion and gave very little trouble. As a result it was a material test, and the two American boats made the best showing. Popularly it missed the excitement of mishaps and struggles to recover therefrom.

Miss America did the first round in 7 minutes 3 seconds, and having made sure of her lead eased up a little. In the third round Maple Leaf V gave promise of the first day's trouble, but it came to nothing and she soon picked up again. Despujols I improved a lot towards the end, but finished last. Otherwise it was a procession.

The actual times were given as

Miss America

37 minutes

9 1/5 seconds

Miss Detroit V

37 minutes

43 4/5 seconds

Maple Leaf V

37 minutes

59 seconds

Maple Leaf VI

40 minutes

59 1/5 seconds

Despujols I

41 minutes

5 1/5 seconds

The mean speed of Miss America was 53.42 knots, very much better than the first day, but her best round was done at 56.31.

(Reprinted from The Rudder, October. 1920, pp.9-10)

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