The sport afloat
for the beginner
By Count Johnstone-Noad
Motor boating has lately come to the fore in the public eye through the medium of outboard racing, which is a particular class of motor boat racing and one of the finest sports at present open to the average pocket of the sporting fraternity, hence a few words on that which every enthusiast aspires to, the blue riband of the sport, namely International motor boat racing.
“The big stuff” International races and world’s speed records are the ambition of many in land racing, whether they run motor bikes or cars: true, it is expensive and difficult but time and determination find ways and means—brains, hard work and good luck and you’re doing what once seemed impossible. The same applies on water. Whether in outboards, which are the ” motorbikes ” of the water, or the bigger boats, the goal is the same and never out of reach or impossible. My one remaining ambition is to be the first to attain 100 miles per hour on the water, but at the moment— !
Those whose racing exploits now lie in high speeds on the land, in the air or on the water, will agree that the most fascinating is that of International racing, as there is always the extra thrill that you are doing a little something for your country, not only yourself, in other words playing for the team.
Whatever successes you have achieved in your own exploits, when taking to the water you will, if wise, commence with outboarding, not only because of the saving to your pocket until you know what you want and where you are, but because in no other manner can you obtain, with such a small amount of expense and risk, all the experiences, thrills and symptoms of handling a light racing craft at high speed.
When one becomes thoroughly at home with outboarding it is advisable to race abroad at International regattas, still with outboards. There are lessons which can only be learnt by practical experience such as little difficulties and trials in organising the transport of your boat, the provision of supplies, ascertaining the routine and rules of the regatta, and haggling in foreign tongues, which will be invaluable when it comes to handling bigger and more expensive craft.
Having done the round, shall we say, in the outboarding world, then study the activities of the national authority as to which is likely to remain the most important International racing class, during the following few years—as in all sports the governing body has a peculiar way of changing their views and arriving at decisions, irrespective of the humble competitor— although our governing body, the Marine Motoring Association is now in excellent hands.
Having obtained the prevailing class of boat, one is inclined to enter immediately for every possible race. Avoid this enthusiasm, for, however you work out your expenses and organization, in practice, both will be doubled. It may not sound much, but if one aims at six leading International events throughout the season and concentrate on these, you will have all your spare time occupied—one presumes throughout that the sportsman is the enthusiastic amateur, with other business to claim his attention.
Some of those who have already had considerable experience in outboarding will probably say that they have entered in so many dozens of events at home and abroad and that they feel confident of equal activities in the bigger international classes. But it is well to remember that you will not have an engine you can take off and put into a car for transport, or take into the workshop and strip or replace by another, in a few minutes ; nor will you have a hull which can be lifted by two people and which does not have an installation, apart from the engine, of coils, wires, pipes, brackets, and what-nots. No, you will have a high speed land racing engine fitted in a light hull, full of assortments, from the handling of which you yourself will be evolving every day, through your difficulties, improvements which can be effected in design and installation. There is great interest in this work, for there is always something to learn.
Some people will say that this stage is past and that I am speaking of years ago, but it is not so.
High speed on water, it will be agreed, is still in its infancy and there are very few people who really know where they stand from the constructional point of view.
Heavy expenditure will not ensure success, unless of course it is backed by high efficiency and helmsmanship, and always good luck. The foundation of success is organization and the detail work so essential to any racing. Have we got the world’s speed on water, or the British International Trophy ? No! And British endeavour over the last two years has spent over £100,000 on this alone. I know of a personal experience, when winning an International event by the expenditure of £50, it cost a brother sportsman some four or five thousand to lose.
Do not imagine by the above remarks that the “big stuff” of motor boat racing is too expensive or too difficult, but just take the warning that it is not too cheap or too easy.
It has not arrived at the stage where everything works simply by pressing buttons, hence the great interest and fascination that this section of the sport gives.
It depends entirely on the individual as to whether success is obtained and whether it costs a penny or a £. And the great secret, to my mind, is seeing to all the work oneself, and’ doing as much as possible with one’s own hands,
I would suggest for six events, a national record, an international record, an international blue riband, such as the Duke of York’s Trophy at home, and three other similar events in say France and America,—do not miss the latter when the opportunity arises. You will find that in preparing and organizing everything in connection with these and in the safest way, namely yourself, all your time will be occupied.
Sir Henry Segrave I believe, started with an outboard ; Malcolm Campbell does, as far as two hands are able, all his own work. Join in the sport of motor boating, start with outboards, do your own work and aim at the bigger International stuff, and you will find one of the finest sporting hobbies that you can wish to take part in.
The Water has it.
I have driven high speed cars, played with the air, raced motor boats at home and in several countries abroad and as a sport which will always give you something interesting to do, believe me, you cannot beat the water. Outboarding alone can produce the greatest fun imaginable. I have had the privilege of driving a motor boat at over 80 miles per hour (the world’s record stands at a little over 90 miles per hour), but the outboard at its 35/40 miles per hour, gives almost as much thrill, although of course the former is the achievement to aim at eventually.