1959 Harmsworth Trophy
Detroit River, Detroit, Michigan, August 25-27, 1959
Harmsworth Trophy Won by Canada
After 39 years in the possession of a series of successful U.S. defenders, the Harmsworth (British International) Trophy has acquired a new home in Canada as the result of an impressive victory at Detroit on Aug. 25, 26 and 27 by the lone Maple Leaf challenger, Miss Supertest III.
Supertest, who entered the Harmsworth with a record of winning the only other race she had started-the Detroit Memorial-was designed by owner James Thompson of London, Ont., and built by his crew. She is driven by Bob Hayward from Embro, Ont. Selected as the U.S. defender largely on the basis of victories in this year's Diamond Cup and Gold Cup races was another new hydro Maverick, owned by W. T. Waggoner, Jr. of Phoenix, Arizona. The driving chores aboard this Ted Jones product are handled by Bill Stead from Reno, Nev. Both craft measure a shade over 30' in length. Supertest's Rolls Royce Griffon and Maverick's Allison each carry nominal ratings of some 2,000 hp.
First race Aug. 25. On a slightly choppy course Maverick got off inside, and 100 yds. ahead of the challenger. The Waggoner craft pulled slowly ahead of Supertest from the start through the first turn. As they straightened away into the backstretch, Mavericks acceleration proved far superior to that of the Canadian boat and she finished the first three-mile lap with a lead of 400 yds. Her speed for the first circuit105.675 mph. was the day's fastest. Supertests pace was 10 miles slower.
Throughout the first five laps Stead used his acceleration to widen his lead, while Hayward did his best to keep in contention with higher top speeds at the end of the straightaways. The defender's advantage at the end of the fifth round rose to 31 sec. despite Stead's easy gait on the turns to conserve his equipment. From that point on Supertests performance improved. With gradually increasing speed on the turns, Hayward whittled Stead's lead down to 17 sec. as they finished the 11th lap.
On the next circuit Maverick's first stage supercharger drive shaft broke and her top speed immediately fell some 25 m.p.h. Supertest quickly closed the gap and passed Waggoner's craft on the first turn of the 13th circuit. Hayward reduced his speed appreciably but still crossed the finish line with a 44 sec. margin over the defender. The winner's race average was 94.085 m.p.h.; her fastest lap (#11) was run at 103.024.
Second race Aug: 26. The start was postponed 15 min. to await improvement of the choppy water conditions. Maverick, again on the inside, roared over the line with a ½-length lead. Supertest was slightly ahead at the first turn where she encountered a spot of rough water and went momentarily out of control. Stead went into the lead.
Maverick again proved faster accelerating out of the turn. Supertest, thanks to overnight repairs to a slipping supercharger drive clutch, showed great improvement in this respect.
Maverick finished the first lap five sec. ahead of the Canadian boat. Stead continued to rely on his better acceleration out of the turns while Hayward hit the turns faster and drove them harder than his U.S. rival. Maverick, getting a bit rougher ride than Supertest, held a consistent pace throughout with her fastest lap being clocked at 104.875 m.p.h., her slowest at 101.724. Stead went on to win by 19.2 sec. for a 45-mile average of 102.988, compared with 101.746 for Hayward.
Third race Aug. 27. With dead calm water, Supertest made a fast, closely timed start. Maverick, her engine temporarily reluctant, lagged 100 yd. behind, and there went the race. Since the end of the second contest, Supertest's crew had installed a smaller propeller, giving the Canadian boat an acceleration rate every bit the equal of Maverick's.
They reached the first turn with the challenger still clinging to that 100 yd. initial advantage. Throughout the balance of the first lap Stead stuck to the leader's roostertail, finishing the three miles three sec. astern. On the second circuit Supertest stretched her lead to five sec. A Canadian victory seemed assured, barring a bad break, and the break, when it came, was in her favor. As Maverick slid across the challenger's wake on the second turn of the third lap, she hooked and went into a quarter spin. By the time she had resumed her speed, Supertest had a half-mile lead.
Maverick continued, her engine running roughly, some 16 sec. off the leader's pace, until the early part of the 12th lap. At that point her supercharger exploded. Although there was no further damage to the boat, she was through.
Hayward immediately slacked his pace, but still finished the race at an average of 104.098 m.p.h.the fastest in Harmsworth history. Also a record was his second lap of 109.334. W. M. C.
(Reprinted from Yachting, October 1959, pp.38, 150)
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