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Olympic Motorboating (Water Motor sports)

Motorboating (also called Powerboating or Water Motor sports) was an official sport only once at the Olympic Games, in 1908 (it was also a demonstration sport in 1900). In 1908 there were three categories - the eight-meter, 60-foot and open class.

The event, strictly for men, involved racing five laps (or 40 nautical miles) around a specific course. Speeds were not impressive by today's standards: average speeds were around the 19mph mark. It was not a great spectator sport either, with the action taking place off Southampton, where virtually no one could see the action. Due to bad weather, six out of the nine scheduled races were canceled. No wonder we never saw this event again at the Olympic Games.


Of special note was the performance of Thomas Thornycroft of Briton, who won gold in two different classes. 44 years later, at age 70, he was selected for another Olympic water sport - the British yachting team at the 1952 Olympics.

checkered flag8 Meter Class

1st. Great Britain Thomas Thornycroft, Bernard Redwood, John Field-Richard. 40 nautical miles in 2:28:26
(DNF Great Britain Warwick Wright, Thomas Wynn-Weston)

60 Foot Class

1st Great Britain Thomas Thornycroft, Bernard Redwood, John Field-Richard. 40 nautical miles in 2:28:58
(DNF Great Britain Mr & Mrs John Gorham)

Open Class (A-Class)

1st France Emile Thubron. 40 nautical miles in 2:26:53
(DNF Great Britain Duke of Westminster, Winchester St George Clowes, Joseph Laycock, G H Atkinson)

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