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UIM Hits a Century

Chris Davies on 11th January 2022

In 1907, a small group of motoring enthusiasts formed the Paris-based Internationale Motor Yacht Association and, after a change of name to the Association Internationale du Yachting Automobile (AIYA) in 1908, staged races regularly in Nice, Palermo, Monte Carlo, Algiers, and Toulon until the outbreak of the First World War.


Led by the Duke of Westminster, Lord Montagu, and Baron Henri de Rothschild racing prospered in Europe and by 1911 the Americans had stepped in on the act by staging a race from Long Beach to Catalina Island in California.

The involvement of Sir Thomas Sopwith in England and Jack Manson and Gar Wood on the American scene brought a new professional edge to this emerging competition and the Harmsworth Trophy and Gold Cup competitions sparked the public imagination in much the same way as the Schneider Trophy international air races had.


By 1917, the Americans were running ten races a year in locations from Miami to Key West, Palm Beach, Havana, and New York. In Europe though the vagaries and traumas of changing presidents and offices almost annually with its attendant inefficiency led to the collapse of the AIYA in 1918.


Then in 1922, largely due to the lobbying efforts of Sir Morton Smart, GCVO, DSO from the British Motor Boat Club and John Ward,

an expatriate Irishman living in Belgium saw the formation in Brussels of the precursor of today´s modern administration in the new Union Internationale du Yachting Automobile with Ward as its first Secretary General and the Belgian businessman Alfred Pierrard its first President.


By 1927 it had acquired a permanent administrative base, had circulated its first sporting rules, published its first racing calendar and after a further change of name to the now familiar Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) was ready to welcome more nations into its fold. Among that first intake were Argentina, Belgium, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Holland, Ireland, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Sweden and finally the United States of America.


Now to commemorate the centenary of the UIM, a special anniversary logo has been launched and will be used throughout the entire 2022 season to celebrate one hundred years of excellence in the sport of powerboat racing.

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