1996 Abridged History
Detailed History
Richardson Trophy Engraving Procedure
Keeper Trophy Order 4/29/94
Trophy Value
Yacht Racing Union of the Great Lakes
for the winners of the

This sterling silver trophy by Tiffany was donated by Commodore S. O. Richardson, Jr., of the Toledo Yacht Club, Toledo, OH, to encourage match sail yacht racing between substantial yachts representing each of the Great Lakes.   The first of these races was held in Chicago, in 1912, between Universal Rule P Class yachts.

After the interruption of World War I, the trophy was transferred to the YRUGL, with racing continuing in R Class yachts until 1966.   Since then, the races have been held in several different types of yachts, including 6 Metre, Cal 40, Redline 41, PJ-43, C&C 35, Islander 36, Tartan 10, C&C 33, C&C 34, Santana 35, & Laser 28.   In 1994, because of the difficulty in getting enough borrowed large yachts together, tradition was broken by holding the races in Dragons.   The Tartan 10 Class was used for 1996.   The Duluth Yacht Club, of the Lake Superior Yachting Association, was the 1996 host.

The races are generally rotated among the six members of the Yacht Racing Union of the Great Lakes in the following order:

Lake Yacht Racing Association
Lake Superior Yachting Association
Lake Huron Yachting Association
Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation
Detroit Regional Yachting Association
Inter-Lake Yachting Association

--Robb Holt, 1992-1996 President, Yacht Racing Union of the Great Lakes


Attending the first races for Canada's Cup, held at Toledo in 1896, were a goodly number of interested sailor-men from each of three of the Great Lakes.   The idea was broached of forming a Union or Association to promote yacht racing and to formulate racing and measurement rules to govern the sport on the Great Lakes.

Commodore Aemilius Jarvis of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club eagerly seized upon the idea, enlisting the services of J. E. Burroughs of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club and E. H. Ambrose of the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club to represent the Lake Yacht Racing Association at a meeting to be held at Buffalo on November 7, 1896.   Present at that meeting were also representatives from the Inter-Lake Yachting Association and the Lake Michigan Yachting Association.   It was decided to form a body to be known as "The Yacht Racing Union of the Great Lakes."   At this meeting an exhaustive set of racing rules prepared by Mr. Ambrose was presented and tentatively adopted.   It was decided to extend invitations to join the Union to the L.Y.R.A., I-L.Y.A. and L.M.Y.A., to which they later agreed.

A further meeting was held at Buffalo on January 16, 1897 when representatives from each of the three Lakes Associations were present, and the rules devised by Mr. Ambrose were revised and finally adopted.

The objects of the Union as determined upon are: "To encourage and promote yacht racing on the Great Lakes, and to unify rules but it is not intended that the Union shall act in any other than an advisory capacity."

The Union has served a useful purpose through the years in fostering yacht racing on the Great Lakes, and in unifying the racing and measurement rules governing all three lakes.

The usefulness of the Union was further enhanced by the promotion of inter-lake racing which was made possible by Commodore S. O. Richardson, Jr. of the Toledo Yacht Club presenting a cup for international racing.   The first of such races took place in 1912 at Chicago when the class "P" yacht "Patricia" representing the L.Y.R.A. was successful against the Yacht "Michicago" representing the L.M.Y.A.

It was the expectation that such races would be held every other year but World War 1 intervened and there were no races until 1922, when the Deed of Gift was amended to allow for racing in class "R", the cup to be known as the "Yacht Racing Union Cup."

Races were held alternately on each of the three lakes until 1940 when World War II made racing unfeasible.   There was no further racing until 1951 when "crew racing" was substituted for "boat racing".   Such races have continued each year on each lake alternately.

The Union has sponsored through the years races for the Barthel Trophy presented by Commodores O. F. Barthel, Detroit, George Orr Chicago, and T. K. Wade, Toronto, for competition in the Eight Metre Class with the expectation that it would be sailed for alternately on the three lakes, during the off years of the Y.R.U. Cup.   However, this was prevented by the financial situation which prevailed in the thirties.   Finally "Boat Racing" was substituted and excellent racing resulted for a number of years, Eight Metre Class being used on Lakes Ontario and Erie and the "Q" Class on Lake Michigan.   There was no racing from 1954 to 1959 when races were revived in the Dragon Class.

In 1955 the O'Keefe Company presented a trophy to the Union to be known as the "O'Keefe's Dragon Trophy" to be emblematic of the Championship of the Great Lakes in International Dragon Yachts.   Races were held yearly at different points on Lake Ontario from 1955 to 1961, the winner each year being sent at the Company's expense to compete for the Gold Cup.   These races were very popular, as many as 30 to 40 boats taking part.

Too much credit cannot be given to Aemilius Jarvis and his confreres for their energy and and foresight in launching the union on such smooth waters that have stood the test of time.   These gentlemen represented the Lake Yacht Racing Association which has ever since been a staunch supporter of the Union.

There are two other men who should receive credit for the rounding of the Y.R.U.   One is George W. Gardner of Cleveland, who was also founder of the Cleveland Yacht Club in 1878 and the I.L.Y.A. in 1885.   The other is Ernest Radder of the Cleveland Yacht Club who followed through to create the North American Yacht Racing Union (now the United States Sailing Association) at New York's Fifth Avenue Hotel in 1897.

Over the years, Y.R.U. has had three members who each served two years as President and following those terms, also served as Secretary-Treasurer and Historian—Thomas K. Wade, 1910 to 1965; E. G. Sorsoleil, 1965 to 1974; and Don Fairchild, 1968 to 1983.   This continuity in office helped support the many excellent men, such as Carl Hilton, Frank Shumway, Lynn Stedman, David W. Howell, Thomas Fisher and Harry Kostoff, who gave of their talent and time and all of whom deserve much credit for the survival of the Y.R.U.

In 1950, YRU purchased three beautiful trophies - one for each of their three member associations (I-LYA, LYRA and LMYA) in order to encourage competition among sail yachts in those areas.   The YRU became a four member association in 1967 with the addition of the DRYA.   The DRYA had functioned as a subordinate affiliate of the I-LYA and through that organization contributed a great deal to YRU, but in 1945, DRYA became equal and independent.   In 1967, Lynn Stedman, Jr., who was Vice President of the North American Yacht Racing Union, called a meeting in Detroit of Frank Shumway, Rochester, New York, Mark H. Baxter, Chicago, Carl Hilton, Chicago, Jere Sullivan, Cleveland, all representing YRU, plus William Nagel and Milton Cross III, both of Detroit, representing the DRYA, to establish the DRYA as a full and equal member of the YRU.   Then two more associations were added - LSYA in 1970 and LHYA IN 1976.

The Milton O. Cross, Jr., Memorial Trophy was assigned to YRU by the Cross family in 1970.   The delegates felt that a Lakes Offshore Racing Championship of the Great Lakes would make an excellent series for this trophy and that there should be a Trans Erie and a Trans Superior race.   They were established in 1970.

There was not enough interest shown by the boat owners in the Offshore Racing Championship of the Great Lakes so from 1974 to 1982, the Cross Trophy was competed for by three yachts from each of the associations of YRU sailing in the Port-Huron-Mackinac Race plus a course race every other year sailed off of the Sarnia Yacht Club.   The cost of insurance for the trophy has put this series on hold for the present.

The delegates were unable to locate the Constitution for the YRU so, in 1975, a new one was written by Don Fairchild and approved by the delegates at the annual meeting that year.

It was decided by the delegates in 1976 that a safe place to keep the records of the YRU was the Great Lakes Historical Society in Vermilion, Ohio.   The minutes of the meetings for the periods from 1896 to 1924 and from 1939 to the present time, plus many other miscellaneous papers and programs, are stored there.

In 1976, an Offshore One-Design Committee composed of former presidents of the YRU, David W. Howell, Thomas K. Fisher, Harry Kostoff, Frank Shumway, Gordon Fisher and Fred Soames, developed the North American 40.   This one-design boat has proved to be very successful and over forty have been sold.   The Barthel Trophy has been awarded for the past several years to the winner of their (NA-40) National Championship series sailed out of Charlevoix, Michigan.




29 April 1994

Mr. Richard Devine
288 Mount Vernon Avenue
Rochester, NY 14620

Dear Richard,

Enclosed is our check for $200.00, making our total down payment $300.00 for an order of three additional Richardson Cup Keeper Trophies like that which you designed and crafted for us last year.

Our 1994 competition is scheduled to be held at the Edgewater Yacht Club, in Cleveland, Ohio, starting 21 August.   I would appreciate completion of these three trophies in time for me to get them to EYC by that time.

I’ve enjoyed working with you on this project, and certainly hope that our need will continue.

Best of wishes to you and your family; I hope that your mother is getting along fine.

Robb Holt


Note from Rolf Krotseng 12/1/99:   Abbott said he had had it appraised for $40,000.

When I had it updated, I talked at length with GINO, the top jewelry man in Cleveland.   In essence:

No way is it worth $40,000.   The abuse of indiscriminant engraving, especially machine engraving renders it worthless except for the sentimentality to those who abused it.

It is not reproducible in the USA for any reasonable amount.   It is reproducible in Italy for about $15,000. (1994)


At one point in the Richardson Trophy history, miniature trophies of the permanent trophy were made.   The sand casting stands about 8" tall and 8" long.   Made of sterling silver, with a thickness over 1/4", the weight of the silver is close to about 3 pounds.   The one pictured, is Harry Nye's that he won in 1967.   The lettering says, "Yacht Racing Union Challenge Cup" identical to the permanent trophy.   There are four logo's, including DRYA (Lake St. Clair), LYRA (Lake Ontario), LMYA (Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation's predecessor) and RCYA (unclear what this represents).   This leaves off three of the lakes that participate.   It is unclear why the other lake's aren't mentioned.   There were no markings to indicate when or where this trophy was made.

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