THE THAMES INTERNATIONAL
THE arrangements for the Thames International Motor Boat Meeting were, as on previous occasions, in the capable hands of The Sussex Motor Yacht Club, whose officials can not only organise a meeting that will run without a hitch in spite of the water being in constant use by commercial craft, but can also choose, in a particularly notorious summer, two consecutive days that remained fine.
Here it should be pointed out, and at the same time publicly regretted, that the ” international ” part of the proceedings remained a mere complementary term in an otherwise accurate title. A pity, for we usually have one or two representatives at the continental shows. As before, a very large crowd collected on the southern bank, but I am afraid that those in the enclosure were chiefly people one expected to see there. However, an unexpected attraction in the presence of Miss England II helped to swell the crowd on the second day
All the events were held over 12 nautical miles, the length of the course being 2 miles.
The First Event.
The first race of the meeting was for the Britannia Challenge Trophy, which was presented by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, who has recently become an enthusiast for small speed craft, both inboard .and outboard. This race was for national class dinghies equipped with either B or C class engines ; the C class people were handicapped with an extra passenger or the equivalent in ballast. Though this system has worked well on previous occasions, this time the larger engines appeared to have a distinct advantage. Competitors, however, were so busy enjoying themselves that no one thought of complaining. Such was the spirit throughout the meeting. As in all the outboard races a ” rolling ” start was employed and was quite an impressive sight. In ” rolling” starts, the starter is in a large speedboat and the competitors arrange themselves in line across the river and just behind the checkered flag. The speedboat increases its speed until the line is reached when the starter drops the flag and they are away. Lanfranchi (494 c.c. Laros) led the pack across the starting line, and got clear ahead while several pilots were having a spot of bother with a tug and some barges, the crews of which thought the race started in the opposite direction. It was obvious to the spectators at the end of the first lap that, barring mechanical breakdown, the race would be an easy win for Lanfranchi, and so events proved, though there were one or two anxious moments due to numbers of tugs and barges. The second man home was C. J. Turner, driving Miss Whitstable (488 c.c. Johnson) about threequarters of a mile behind the winner. Mr. R. D. Weatherell with another Laros took third place, after a hard struggle to hold Turner who ran away on the straights. Phil Turner, who came in fourth, might have done better had he not been so
badly baulked on the up river turn. There were nine finishers out of fifteen starters.
The second race on the card was to have been for a new trophy, recently put up by Lord Wakefield, and open to 5 -litre hydroplanes, but as Mr. T. A. White was the only entrant to turn out, the race had to be abandoned. Whyteleaf III (125 b.h.p. Scripps), started on a demonstration run with Dream Girl, but did not get far beyond the start.
The second event on Thursday was the race for the Star Trophy held by B. G. Parker on Yoo-too (B class Watermota), but now defending with Joan, a See boat engined by Johnson. All but one of the 14 entrants turned out, and there did not seem room for them all abreast, so one or two unfortunates were handicapped doubly by being behind and also in the wash of the ChrisCraft and other competitors. One of these, Capt. Palethorpe, was, however, up to 5th at the end of the first lap, and thus justified_ his position as one of the favourites. Palethorpe, who has a long list of successes up north, never seems to have the requisite amount of luck necessary to win any outboard race, when he is down south, for on the last two laps he did not appear to be travelling as well as he had been. Another Sharland-engined craft was, however, in the lead throughout, and although Lanfranchi came up within 150 yds. on the fifth lap, Storey managed to maintain and increase his lead. Second and third places were hotly contested, but in spite of a short stop Lanfranchi was able to annex second place from Colin Fair on the two year-old-boat, Maureen. There were eight finishers and from what I recollect, the dinghies of this year do not seem to be any more reliable proportionately than the hydroplanes of previous years.
The last race on Thursday and the first for the Sussex M.Y.C. Championship open to semi-displacement boats up to 150 h.p., was of particular interest for Mr. Fred May’s 23 year old boat, Defender II, was entered. Mr. Fred May’s duties on the committee prevented him from driving his own boat, but Mr. B. G. Parker for him managed to show his wake to J. W. Shillan’s Miss Hendon IV (Dartcraft) and Scott-Paine’s Panther III (Powerboat), their boats finishing second and third respectively. Dream Girl and Baby VII also completed the course.
The Field Trophy Race.
Proceedings opened on Friday, the second day, with the Field Trophy race for unlimited class hydroplanes. Of the 11 entries four were non-starters, while Palethorpe and Harrison were the only two pilots of unlimited class engines. On the first few laps the crowd were greatly thrilled by the way these two men handled their boats, and it was most unfortunate that Capt. Palethorpe should have developed engine trouble. His case was not an isolated one, however, for of the seven starters B. G. Parker, driving Erb II powered by a two-year:old 326 c.c. Johnson, was the only other finisher, and of course he could offer Harrison no real race.
Following the Field Trophy, F. A. White took out Whyteleaf III and proceeded to walk over the course at 42.92 m.p.h. (37.27 knots), which was the fastest time of the meeting. ” Chick ” Myers also went out with White to make it a bit more of a show, but his boat seemed so upset when it spotted the police launch ” Albert ” that it did so. Chick, of course came up smiling. Harrison was also in bad luck for he inverted the outfit in the wash of Whyteleaf III. Again the hydroplanes did not materialize in force for the Thames Championship Trophy, for there were only eight starters while the favourite, Lanfranchi, got no further than the line. Weatherell, who made a comparatively poor start, went right through the field in a lap and a half. Leslie Wood, driving for Phil Turner, and C. J. Turner both hung grimly on to the leader’s tail until the latter went out of his boat quicker than I have seen anyone do it previously, due to hitting a floating baulk of timber. A nasty spill, and I suppose Turner must really consider himself fortunate that he was not
seriously hurt. Wood made a fine spurt as they were approaching the line and managed to get within 80 yds. of the winner, but it appeared that Weatherell had a little in hand.
During the course of the afternoon Fred May took out Defender II for a friendly race with Mawcksby Brooke, against whom he raced many years ago, but May was out of luck for he damaged the poop, so that when Parker took over for the second heat of the Sussex M.Y.0 Championship, Defender II was considerably slower than she had been on the previous run. Further, ‘several of the other boats appeared to have roped in a few extra horses for their engines during the night and were going just that much faster. Scott-Paine’s Panther III led from start to finish, increasing her lead over Arthur Bray’s Dream Girl, the whole way, the latter being closely pursued by Miss Hendon IV until she slowed on the last two laps, but
place. not sufficientto permit Defender II to annex a
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