1956 Harmsworth Trophy Race

Harmsworth Not So Familiar But It's an Old Powerboat Event

By George E. Van

The Harmsworth Trophy
The Harmsworth Trophy

When the story that Canada had challenged for the Harmsworth Trophy was put on the wires from here in 1949 the query came back immediately from news desks all over the country:

“What’s the Harmsworth? Sounds important, but what is it?”

Gar Wood had defended it successfully last In 1933 with Miss America X against Sir Scott-Paine’s Miss Britain Another generation has emerged.

Stanley Dollar of the famed Dollar Lines of San Francisco held the trophy for the U.S. in 1949 with his Skip-Along and Stan Sayres of Seattle, Ted Jones driving, did it also with Slo Mo Shun IV when those gallant Canadians, Ernie Wilson and son Harold challenged with Miss Canada IV for the second time in 1950.

They took the Gold Cup, too. that year and not until last sumer did Joe Schoenith bring it back.

But today the Harmsworth, officially known as the British International Trophy, is the least known to the man on the street.

Not Familiar

The same man is only vaguely aware of the Gold Cup. which has been raced for since 1904. The Harmsworth is even older by one year. It was brought out in 1903.

But the President’s Cup, the Detroit Memorial of the Windmill Pointe Y.C. and Detroit Y.C. Silver Cup are now generally better known than the Harmsworth.

All are races for the unlimited class boats like Joe Schoenith’s Gale V, Jack Schafer’s Such Crusts, and Horace Dodge’s Sweeties.

Now another Canadian, J. Gordon Thompson, has challenged for the Harmsworth with his Miss Supertest. His challenge means entries are open to May 1.

England and Italy are only-remote possibilities. No further challenges are expected.

Site Undecided

When the Harmsworth will be held is yet to be decided. Most likely, however, it will be held on a five-mile course laid out on the Detroit River above the Belle Isle Bridge.

No committee would dare to send the boats through one of the spans of the bridge now.

The Detroit Y.C. most likely will be the host club for the Harmsworth. Clyde Palmer, commodore of the DYC this year and the man who has handled all powerboat racing there in recent years, has the Silver Cup race Aug. 18 and the Gold Cup Sept. 1.

If the DYC Is awarded the Harmsworth, Palmer favors it on Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 22-23, in the week following the Silver Cup.

If a third race is necessary (the contest goes on until one country has won two races) it will be held Friday. Aug. 24.

This year the Harmsworth rules have been altered. Instead of a three-boat American team there will be only one defender. If another foreign country challenges there will be two U.S. defenders.

The “wrong way” course, or clock-wise layout used for the Harmsworth also has been changed. It’ll now be counter-clockwise as in the Gold Cup.

Either the Silver Cup winner or the boat with the best standing after the Maple Leaf, Detroit Memorial and Silver Cup races will be chosen as the defender, although the Harmsworth committee is empowered to select any craft it deems the best.

— January 4, 1956

Supertest II is Slimmed for Trophy Races

London, (CP)—A slenderized Miss Supertest II will try again this summer to win for Canada the Harmsworth Trophy, top prize of speedboat racing which has been held in the Uniteci States for the past 36 years.

The London-owned boat has lost the big fin which made her look something like a “flying saucer.” Her front cowling has been cut down several inches.

Owner Jim Thompson said the fin may have helped stabilize the craft, but it caused trouble on the turns when it hit the wind. The lower cowling will cut down wind resistance.

One of the experts in the redesigning of Miss Supertest has been Danny Foster, driver-mechanic for Guy Lombardo’s Tempo VII.

Miss Supertest still is powered by a 2,000 h.p. Rolls Royce Griffon engine. She again will be driven by Bill Braden of Hamilton.

The Harmsworth races will be held over a five-mile course on the Detroit River, Aug. 25-27.

In the meantime, Miss Supertest is expected to be tested soon on the St. Ciair River off Sarnia.

— April 18, 1956

On The Rebound

Although Miss Supertest II only ranked third in the one-heat Maple Leaf Classic Saturday, hopes of Canada for Harmsworth honors were not dimmed. The powerful entry owned by Jim and Gordon Thompson of Sarnia with Bill Braden at the controls bettered the qualifying time in its morning run with a 77.14 m.p.h. clocking. The waters of the iDetroit Riner were not at their best for the Rolls-Royce Griffon-powered craft and following the qualifying run Braden said, "the waters are rolling and were not helpful so there was no advantage in forcing her to the limit."

Racing in the second half of the first heat with a storm brewing and waters still unsettled from the first downpour, Braden had Miss Supertest performing in smooth fashion. Driving his own race he slipped into third place when Jack Schafer’s Such Crust went out due to a faulty oil line. Don Wilson had Dora My Sweetie in a strong first position and Miss U.S. was providing the opposition. There was no need for unnecessary chances and Braden drove accordingly. The race was an introduction for driier and boat to some of the competition that will be presented in Harmsworth Trophy competition later in the summer and now th.it introductions have been acknowledged, work in full earnest will get underway to give Canada a creditable showing in the Harmsworth competition.

— June 25, 1956

Sports Chatter

By Ken Fathers

Time is fleeting past and in just a little more than one month’s time that unlimited powerboat classic, the Harmsworth Trophy Race, will be at hand. Canada’s entry, Miss Supertest II, is challenging for the laurels but its American opponent for the event probably won’t be determined until one week before event. Right now, it's anybody's guess which U.S. boat will go to the starting line against the Dominion entry.

When the Harmsworth Trophy Race was last held back in 1950, three U.S. boats battled Miss Canada IV for the silverware. This year, however, only one U.S. boat will be eligible for the race and that boat will be selected by a committee of the Yachtmen’s Association of America. The boat which compiles the greatest number of points between now and Harmsworth time will likely get the nod.

It's expected that the winning boat in the U.S. competition will have to pile up at least 1,200-1,500 points. A victory in the final heat of any race is good for 400 points.

Presently, three Detroit boats have points toward their selection as the U.S. defender of the Harmsworth Trophy. Gale V leads with 400, Miss U.S. has 300 and Dora My Sweetie boasts 225. These points were picked up in a regatta at Picton, Ont back on June 30. Miss Supertest won that unlimited event.

— July 12, 1956

Speed Boats Ready to Go

Sarnia — Eleven boats are expected to start in the 45-mile International Trophy Race at St. Clair, Mich., Sunday afternoon.

It had been hoped that Miss Supertest II, Canada's Harmsworth challenger, would be entered, but it was impossible to get the craft ready in time.

Joe Schoenith, of Detroit, has entered three of his Gale boats. Gale VI, a twin-engined unlimited powerboat with upwards of 4.000 horsepower, will make its bow in the classic. Gale IV and Gale V are also entered.

Jack Schafer, of Detroit, is back with last year’s champion, Such Crust III.

The race last year, first ever held, attracted an estimated 65,000. It is expected that this will be topped on Sunday if fine weather prevails.

The race is run over a three-mile course in three 15-mile heats.

The International is important from a Harmsworth standpoint. The boat totalling the most points in designated races will contest the Harmsworth against the Canadian challenger, Miss Supertest II, late in August.

— July 14, 1956