1956 Harmsworth Trophy Race
Shanty I Wins Harmsworth Trophy
The British International (Harmsworth) Trophy, which has been on display at the Seattle YC since 1950, is due to rest there for a while longer as a result of Shanty I’s victory at Detroit in late August. This was the 22nd running for the trophy.
The venerable trophy has an interesting history and is symbolic of the international speed boat championship. It was donated by the late Lord Harmsworth and was first raced for at Queenstown in 1903. The winning boat was S.F. Edge’s Napier I with an average time of 19.53 mph.
No challenge has been made for the venerable trophy which Slo-mo IV won in 1950 until this year when a Canadian boat, Miss Supertest, challenged. Since the contenders in the contest must be built of native materials, this time Slo was declared ineligible to defend it since it carried a Rolls engine, built by Packard but of British design. So the speedy new Seattle boat, Shanty I, owned by Bill Waggoner and driven by Lieut. Col. Russ Schleeh, was chosen by the Harmsworth committee to defend the trophy, since the rules were rewritten to make it a two-boat contest.
The race was run on three heats, each seven five-mile laps on the Detroit River, August 25, 27 and 28. In the first heat Schleeh early took command, eventually out-distancing Supertest by three miles and turning in an unofficial average of 94.774 mph. On the second heat Waggoner advised Schleeh to go for a lap record and he did, driving the first lap at 110.357 mph. The Seattle boat then conked out and Schleeh was brought home by the Coast Guard while Supertest finished at leisure.
On the third and deciding heat, Shanty I was again in good form and soundly trounced the challenger, waltzing over the course at 89.750 mph. Supertest was not in good condition, faltering several times, and giving driver Braden such a rough ride that he was hospitalized afterwards, suffering extreme fatigue.
(Reprinted from Sea and Pacific Motor Boat, October 1956)