Sailing boat

Timely Display of a 1912 Great Lakes Power Boat Trophy

The Royal Hamilton Yacht Club is not short of trophies that illustrate the phenomenal history of this club. Our oldest dates back to 1892! Perhaps that is one reason that people occasionally reach out to us with trophies that they find that add to and reflect that long history. Recently that was the case with the donation of the Bill Judd Memorial trophy as detailed in a previous article in Horizons, and featured by Jeff Mahoney in a Hamilton Spectator article.
It is RHYC’s long history that prompted Sylvie Sohn to contact us with regard to a trophy that 7 year old Kaden Klatt found while perusing the Barry’s Bay dump with his grandfather Bart Klatt. Bart lives in Barry’s Bay, but Kaden was visiting from his parents’ home in Sudbury. Bart is Sylvie’s cousin, and it is Sylvie who set out to find the background on this find. 
Sylvie wrote us saying, with regard to Bart and Kaden, “They both share a passion for old tractors and antiques.  3yr ago Kaden was with his grandpa at the dump and pointed to this dull upside down article that looked like a big bowl. Grandpa retrieved it from the scrap pile and Kaden took it to the garage where it stayed for a few years.  Last summer Kaden was spending more time helping grandpa fix tractors and he remembered the big bowl he had found.  Grandpa admitted almost throwing it out a few times but kept it as Kaden’s find. That summer Kaden decided to clean and buff it up and he was quite proud to see how old it was and wanted to know more.”
    Kaden and his grandfather Bart with Kaden’s “bowl”. 

The “bowl” that young Kaden found turned out to be a trophy from August, 1912, donated by the Hamilton Spectator to the Great Lakes Power Boat League. Coincidently, RHYC also has its own power boat trophy, also dated to August, 1912!
  Sylvie Sohm delivers the trophy prior to the Hall of Fame Dinner. Harry Greening’s Lipton Trophy 

The recovered trophy reads :”Great Lakes Power Boat League, 
August, 1912, Hamilton, Canada, The Hamilton Spectator”. for the North American Power Boat Championship in the background.
RHYC’s existing power boat trophy reads “Royal Hamilton Yacht Club, 
Fourth Annual International Motor Boat Race, August 1912”. 

We wrote back to Sylvie saying that, yes, the Heritage Committee would very much like to see Bart’s trophy. We pointed out that Harry Penny had written in his Centennial history of RHYC, “One Hundred Years and Still Sailing” that “In 1912 the RHYC had hosted the fourth annual International Motor Boat Race, which took place on Burlington Bay. RHYC power boat racers won two trophies at this event, one for "the competitive event and the other for the best speed." So, there was no question that these two trophies were linked to the same series of motor boat races that took place on the Bay in August of 1912.

Diligent research by Stan Chambers in the Heritage section of the Hamilton Library produced some interesting articles from the Hamilton Spectator. This regatta of the Great Lakes Power Boat League was hosted by RHYC. RHYC was one of the fourteen clubs in the league which extended as far as Detroit, Toledo and Saginaw, MI.  The Commodore of the GLPBL was C.H.O. Pook of RHYC who was also the regatta chairman.  Pook would become Commodore of RHYC in 1925. This powerboat regatta followed immediately on the heels of the 1912 LYRA Regatta, also hosted by RHYC. The three day LYRA ended on the Wednesday and the three day GLPBL regatta started on the Thursday. LYRA racing took place on the lake, while the powerboat racing took place on the Bay. Keep in mind, that both of these regattas were hosted at the RHYC Beach Strip clubhouse on the ship canal, before this building was destroyed by fire in 1915.
Our suspicions that Harry Greening raced in the 1912 GLPBL regatta is also confirmed by these article. Greening in Gadfly III won the 40’ displacement class race on Friday, and the time prize for the International handicap 20 mile race on Saturday.

We pointed out to Sylvie that Harry Greening was going to be one of five inductees into the RHYC Hall of Fame at a special dinner at the club on November 24th, and it would be an honour if we could display this trophy at that dinner, alongside our own 1912 trophy and the Lipton Trophy that Greening won in 1928 for the North American Power Boat Championship. Sylvie followed through, and an hour before the start of our reception arrived at the club, bearing the trophy.

This trophy was a reminder of the long history of power boating at RHYC, with many power boats appearing in period photos sitting at mooring in front of both the Bay Street clubhouse and at the previous 1939 clubhouse.  Harry Penny points out that in 1974 he was the first Commodore since 1954 whose flagship was a sailboat, not a power boat!

We are thankful to Sylvie Sohm for sharing this trophy with us, and allowing us to display it during the Induction of Harry Greening into the RHYC Hall of Fame. We are looking forward to finding more history of this power boat event that took place on the Bay in 1912.

Rob Mazza
Chair, RHYC Heritage Committee.

Harry Greening’s Gadfly III took part in the racing involving these trophies.

Great Lakes Power Boat League trophy on display at the Hall of Fame Dinner with our own power boat trophy, also dating August 1912.