Water motorsports at the 1908 Summer Olympics

In the IV Olympic Games 1908 in London three competitions were held in the motor boat, after it's already 1900 Olympic demonstration sport for the first time. All three matches went more than 40 nautical miles ( 74.08 km ) and took place in the Bay of Southampton. There were five rounds of eight nautical miles ( about 15 km ) disputed.

Of the boats who had traveled some did not get over the start line. A total of six boats took part in the three contests, including five British and one French. Due to extremely adverse weather conditions could always just one of the two most boats launched reach the goal.

Boats and crews


The competitions were originally supposed to take place on 11 July 1908. There are no documents were found that a reason for moving to 28-29. August 1908 specify. A discernible advantage of that transfer had only the participants Hugh Grosvenor. He wanted to take his boat on August 2, 1908 at the prestigious Harmsworth Cup in New York. Three weeks for the transport from the UK to the USA were scarce at that time, by the laying he had for the return of almost four weeks. Through his position as Duke of Westminster, he had enough influence to push for this installation.

A- class 40 miles

Date: 28-29. August 1908 In the competition of the A-Class all the boats were allowed to start with any dimensions. First, they should mark the start of the competition on 28 August, but the task of the crew of Dylan as well as poor weather conditions prevented it. The new opponent for Hugh Grosvenor with his boat Wolseley - Siddeley, named after the built-in car engines, was the Camille by Émile Thubron, the only French boat. It was named after Thubrons countrywoman Camille du Gast, who won a Mediterranean race. The Wolseley - Siddeley initially seems clearly superior, but then she ran aground and had to finish the race. Safely won Thubron after 2:26:53 hours.

B- class 40 miles

Date: August 28, 1908 In the competition of B-Class were boats that were less than 60 feet ( about 20 meters) long, start. The first opponent was the Gyrinus by Thomas Thornycroft, who had taken on the weather prospectively an additional crew member separately for Wasserausschöpfen on board the other boat, the Quicksilver by John Marshall Gorham. It is unclear whether his wife Sophia Gorham accompanied him, which would thus be the only woman in these competitions. After initial tie, then sat the Gyrinus from and as the Quicksilver and water was then run into the boat, Gorham gave up. Thornycroft, however, probably had no problems to get safely to the finish and retract the first Olympic victory of the new discipline powerboating in 2:28:58 hours.

C- class 40 miles

Date: August 29, 1908 In the competition the C-Class were only the smallest boats that were up to 8 feet long, start. In spite of four messages only two boats were at the start, on the one hand the winner of the previous day, the Gyrinus by Thomas Thornycroft, on the other hand, the Sea Dog by Warwick Wright. Again at first seemed both counterparties equivalent, but due to a defect in the engine, which had been running hot, the Sea Dog was forced to surrender. After 2 hours, 28 minutes and 26 seconds Gyrinus reached the goal and thus became the first and only double Olympic champion in motor boat competitions.

Powerboating to Olympia

As had been shown by the small number of participants and the high failure rate, power boating was hardly suitable for the Olympics. Therefore, it was discontinued as an Olympic sport again, although this time motorboat race was popular in some European countries, including in Germany. After 1908 power boating was never olympic again.


Official Report of the Olympic Games 1908, pages 265-269, (English ) (PDF, 14.7 MB)

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  • Competition at the Summer Olympics in 1908
  • Powerboating