• Powerboating in the Olympics? 105 Years Ago it Was!

    The 1908 Summer Olympics had the distinguishing characteristic of hosting the first, and last powerboat racing events in Olympic History. 3 classes were devised, an open class, an under 60-ft class and a 6.5-8 meter class (21 -26 ft). Each event was intended to run the same 8 nautical mile course for 5 laps for a total of 40 nautical miles. All three events had only one boat finish, so only gold medals were issued for all three races. Events were held on 28 August and 29 August 1908.

    The open class race took place on the first day of the competition. Only two boats, Wolseley-Siddely and Dylan, arrived to run the race. Dylan was forced to abandon the race before the first lap was comple, while Wolseley-Siddely managed to finish the first lap before the weather became too harsh to continue the race.

    The next day after both other classes had finished their races, another attempt to run the race was made. Dylan did not return to race a second time. Wolseley-Siddely again started and a French boat named Camille arrived to race against it. Camille was the only non-British boat to compete in any class. During the race, Wolseley-Siddely ran aground on a mud spit and Camille crossed the finish line alone to win the gold in the open class.

    The Under 60-ft class was held right after the first open race was abandoned. Aswith the open race, only two boats arrived at the starting line, Quicksilver and Gyrinus. Quicksilver abandoned the race as it was troubled by water coming over its sides. Gyrinus,which was a much smaller boat, carried an extra crewman whose job was to bail water. Gyrinus made to the finish line becoming the first Olympic Champion in Powerboat Racing.

    The race in the 6.5-8 meter class took place on the 2nd day. Gyrinus, which had won the Under 60-ft class the day before also qualified for this class and arrived to run again. Her opposition in this race was Sea Dog. Gyrinus was again the only boat to finish the race. Sea Dog experienced engine problems and was towed off the course.

    Gyrinus was one of the first boats that attempted to plane over the water rather than plow through it. It was characteristics that enabled the little Gyrinus to win two races. After the 1908 games, Olympic Powerboat Racing was quickly abandoned as it more of a test of machine than of man, putting it outside the spirit of the Olympic Games.