Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America

Racing has always been an integral part of ice yachting. Early sailors challenged one another for supremacy on the ice. In its day, ice boating was the fastest means of travel.  Challenges for bragging rights for the fastest boat have existed since these crafts were first built & sailed. Races for cash, furs, silver plates, watches, pennants and a silver tiller were noted in early news accounts. The Poughkeepsie yachts were known as the most finely crafted and the swiftest. That didn't stop challengers from other locations- notably Athens, New Hamburgh, and the New Jersey sailors from the North Shrewsbury River - from claiming that they had the fastest yacht yet seen.

Irving Grinnell, grand-nephew of Washington Irving, was a wealthy "country-gentleman" who settled in Wappingers Falls, NY, on a large estate. He was active in the New York Yacht club, serving as commodore at one point, and his passion for sailing extended to winter ice yachting. He was a keen ice yacht sailor and founded the New Hamburgh Ice Yacht Club in 1869, building up a large fleet of yachts. This passion for racing led to his creating the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America. It was to be the winter version of the America's Cup, signifying the fastest boat, on ice.

The original 30 foot silk pennant, last displayed at the FDR Museum in Hyde Park about 20 years ago. 
It is now in a conservatory, awaiting restoration. ( The sheer poles for FDR's lateen rigger ice yacht Hawk rest below the pennant)

Initial announcement of the Pennant in early 1875, from
Mannings Yachting Annual. 

Conditions for racing.

1875 Registry of yachts in Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht Club
 and the New Hamburgh Ice Yacht Club.

Early news article (Poughkeepsie Eagle March, 22, 1875)
 on the establishment of the Challenge Pennant.
From John A. Roosevelt's scrap book.  

The first challenge for the Pennant was on Feb. 28, 1879. The Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht Club, formally challenged the NHIYC. The challenge was turned down a week later with the New Hamburgh club claiming that the originator and likely skipper of a NHIYC boat, Irving Grinnell, was ill and unable to race, so there would be no race that year. 

After several winters of poor ice for sailing, the pennant was finally raced for in 1881.
From the 1881 minutes of the New Hamburgh IYC.  
A special meeting is called to accept the challenge of the 
Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht Club to race for the pennant. 
It is called on for Friday, March 4, 1881 at 11 am. 
This is the write up of that first race,  from John A. Roosevelt's collection.
Summaries of many of the Challenge Pennant races are here.

Eskimo, rounds the stake along the Poughkeepsie waterfront in the Feb 14, 1887 Pennant race. Note the hike in her windward runner.  Eskimo, built by Jacob Buckhout for  Phillips Phoenix, of Tuxedo Lake, came in seventh. She sailed for the Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht Club. Eskimo is likely the boat referenced in the NYTimes article in 1886.   Archie Rogers, sailing Jack Frosfor the HRIYC, won this race for the Challenge Pennant.
Same race, same spot. Northern Light, came in second. Note the large crowds on the ice for this race. Upwards of 2000 spectators were reported to line the banks during these Pennant races.

Same race (again); Here the 12 yachts entered are lined up off of Poughkeepsie for the start of the race.
They sailed 4 miles south, rounding a flag and headed back to Kaal Rock. 

They sailed that route twice for a total of 16 miles. 

The 'last' two races for the IYCPA of this early era took place in 1902. Participants wisely modified the rules to race to include just 2 yachts each from the challenger and defending clubs.
Jack Frost & Icicle represented HRIYC while Scud & Dreadnaught were chosen from the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat & Yacht Club - the challengers for the Pennant. Frost won both races.

Line up for the start of the 1902 IYCPA race. ( not sure which of the 2 races, Feb. 7 or Feb 13, this is)
Jack Frost, racing in 1902.

Icicle. Willie Smith who worked for John A. Roosevelt year round, was often at the helm of Icicle in big races.

To read about the last race for the Pennant (in the era of the gaff rigged stern steerers) go here.

to be continued....

(All these older, historical photos are  Courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Hyde Park, New York.)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Icicle IYCPA medals

Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America.  Medals awarded to John A. Roosevelt, for his victories aboard his ice yacht Icicle.  Icicle sailed to victory on:
March 8, 1888 
February 25, 1889
February 5, 1892
January 21, 1899

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

IYCPA of 1922

The last race for the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant was in 1922. Some years early Archie Rogers returned the pennant back to the New Hamburgh Ice Yacht Club. Between years with no good ice, old timers dying off, and failed efforts to get off a race, the pennant went back to where it originated. Finally a race was organized between clubs from Chelsea and New Hamburgh. One report is reprinted below:
(Read Frank Drake's letter about his memories of that race, in  a letter he wrote to Ray Ruge in 1950)
Scout is winner in iceboat race   (NYT 2/9/1922, and Poughkeepsie Eagle)

Sailing 10 miles to windward and ten to leeward over a twenty-mile course near here (Poughkeepsie)
on the Hudson River today, in the first of three races for the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennnat of America, the Scout, defender of the pennant now held by the New Hamburgh Ice Yacht Club, crossed the line the winner. The time was 1:03:10.

The Vixen, the lateen-rigged challenger, owned by Joseph Jova of the Chelsea Yacht Club, floundered in the wind, which was dead to windward, and finished fifth.

The masterly sailing of Scout by F.V. Drake in the windward breeze brought the defender across the finish line within three minutes of the record for this course for boats of sail expanse of 350 square feet.

Sailing conditions were ideal for today's race, the ice being hard and the wind directly north, with only an occasional squall.

The summary:
Scout, owned by J.L. Millard, sailed by Captain Frank Drake,  first
Ymir, Owned by R.W. Stuart, sailed by Frank Cleary,  second
Arrow, owned by C.W, Weeks, third;
Wizard, Owned by William J. Workman, sailed by Charlie Merrit,  fourth;
Vixen, owned by Joseph Jova, fifth.    Time - 1:03:10

A second race was scheduled for the next day. According to a Feb 10 article in the Poughkeepsie Eagle, the second race was postponed as there was not enough wind;
Vixen, sailing off of Poughkeepsie, 1889.
She has sailed in Challenge Pennant races in 1883, and 1922

Scout, now owned by the Lawrence family, sailing off Red Bank, NJ 2003.
Henry Bossett photo  

Ymir - this Hudson River boat was built by George Buckhout. It went to NJ at some point. Bob Lawrence told me a story that there was a race between Hudson River boats and Jersey boats on the Hudson (sometime in the 20s??) with winner take all - all the boats that is. Supposedly several HR ice yachts went south after that race. Ymir may have been one. (This could be one of those ice yachting "stories" for all I know...)
Ymir (Bob Lawrence said it was pronounced WHY-MIR;  I'd always figured EE-Mir) still sails with the NSIBYC in Red Bank NJ. Long time Jersey sailor and HRIYC member Greg Strand owned Ymir for a time and he replaced the backbone. She sailed on the Hudson in 2003. 
Ymir, on the Shrewsbury Feb. 12, 2000

Cockpit of the Ymir.

Arrow of the HRIYC 1888. 369 sq ft of sail; this may be the Arrow of the 1922 Pennant race.

Interestingly, according to an article in the Poughkeepsie Eagle, 3 of these same yachts raced each other  ten years earlier  - Feb 28, 1912. In this 10 mile race, off New Hamburgh, the finish order was:
Vixen, sailed by Capt. William Albertson  of the steamer Mary Powell;
Scout, sailed by Capt. Frank Drake, owner Jake Millard handling the sheets.
Wizard, sailed by Capt. Preston LeRoy, owner Wm. Workman on the sheets;