Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Trans-Atlantic Race

The passengers who reached London via Plymouth in mail week, from New York by the Prinz Frederich Wilhelm, described how their vessel took part in an exciting race across the Atlantic with two equally large liners, namely the White Star liner Celtic, bound to Queenstown, and the Liverpool and French Transatlantic Company's La Touraine, whose destination was Havre. The Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm, which belongs to the North German Lloyd Company, left New York on Thursday of the previous week, leaving her pier within a few minutes of the Celtic and La Touraine.
At Sandy Hook, which was passed at noon, the French steamer was ahead, with the Celtic bringing up the rear. It was early evident that the White Star liner was going to be left behind, and when the next day (dawned) she had disappeared from view, she having shaped a more northerly course, it was generally recognised that the struggle was between the French and German representatives.
The crews of both vessels realised that they were very evenly matched, and in the respective stokeholds the best efforts were put forth.
Ahead, away in the distance, the German liner's passengers saw La Touraine with dense volumes of smoke coming from her funnels, and as the Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm's engines hurried her forward there was great excitement on board, and in the smoking-room many bets were made as to the result.
Half-way across the Atlantic the French liner was still ahead, but next day there was a rougher sea, and then Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm gained considerably. An exchange of wireless messages between the passengers on the rival ships showed that La Touraine's run had fallen short of the previous day's. Passengers eagerly questioned the engineers as each watch was relieved, and many were the glances taken at the ship's log.
On Wednesday morning La Touraine's advantage was seen to have been extensively reduced, but throughout the day she held her own. During the night a hard head wind sprang up, and affected the French vessel's progress more than that of the German liner, with the result that on Thursday morning there were only four or five miles behind the steamers.
The excitement now became intense as the race was nearing the end.
On Thursday afternoon, when within 50 miles of the Lizard, Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm passed, and finally left behind La Touraine, which had practically never been out of sight throughout the course of a 3,000 mile race.

Eastern Province Herald - September 1, 1908.

It must have been a magnificent experience, sailing neck and neck with other majestic liners. The age of luxury travel and large scale mass immigration, the age of steam technology, was upon the world. National prestige was at stake and the Germans must have reveledin the pride of knowing that their vessel had beaten their traditional enemies, the French. What do you think?

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