1886 New York Canoe Club International Challenge Cup
In History, September 1886
The following was submitted by Ed Kattle. It was originally published in Harpers Weekly, September 4, 1886. I can only assume that the content is now in the public domain.
The International Challenge Cup (Prior to having over 100 names engraved upon it)
Of all of the camps that dot the surface of habitable America during the summer, perhaps that the canoeist at Grindstone Island is the jolliest. There is just enough of recognized authority to lend a comfortable sense of security. There is an “Officer of the Day” and a bugle to sound reveille and tattoo, and plenty of authentic young fellows in picturesque flannels to pitch overboard any objectionable tramp that may happen to make themselves disagreeable. There are “orders of the day” which may be delightfully ignored if any one finds them irksome and enough discipline to prevent too much uproariousness. All the resources of a great summer resort are within easy, but not too easy reach, while the Thousand Islands with their manifold beauties of wood and water present all of the attractions of wilderness with only a suspicion of savagery.
The camp this year had an especial attraction in the presence for the first time of transatlantic canoeists. It has long been the wish of the fraternity on both sides of the ocean to test the relative merits of English and American Canoes and Canoemanship, but although the Royal Canoe Club has long offered prizes open to foreign competitors, no distinct effort was made to bring about a meeting until last fall when the New York Canoe Club opened a correspondence and offered an international challenge cup to be held as a perpetual trophy and raced for from year to year. This action was promptly seconded by the American Canoe Association and as a result of the correspondence the Secretary of the Royal Club officially challenged for the two cups, one to be raced for at the annual meet of the American Canoe Association, and the other whenever the cup may chance to be held.
The two recognized champions of English canoeing, Messrs. W Baden-Powell, and E.B. Tredwen consented to come over and if po0ssible carry back American Silver for ballast, or at least decorate their club-house at Kingston on the Thames.
The death of Mr. Tredwen’s father prevented his coming, but a worthy substitute appeared in the person of Mr. Walter Stewart, R.C.C. who came over three weeks ago, and was followed a week later by Warington, Baden-Powell. National peculiarities in build and rig
are apparent in canoes as well as ion the big sloops and cutters that are making ready for their more conspicuous contest, but the canoeing fraternity is rent by no differences as to centre-boards and ballast. The English and American sailing rules are practically identical. The main differences are in the greater weight of the English boats in the larger amount of ballast usually carried and in the habit of English canoeist have of “going below” when under sail, while Americans sit well up on the weather gunwale, and use their own persons as shifting ballast when a small squall strikes. Another peculiarity, and a manifest advantage claimed for the English canoes, is that they are quicker “in stays” than their American sisters. This has been induced by the necessary narrow waters in which their sailing is mostly done, necessitating short tacks and a great many of them. In windward work this was expected to tell heavily against American craft. On the other hand, the Englishmen have recognized the advantage of having the crew on the weather gunwale instead in the hold, and both the visitors have been conscientiously practicing “climbing out to windward” in view of possible emergencies. Mr. Baden-Powell says that when the first photographs of American canoeist in the windward position reached the other side, they were regarded as a practical joke. It was suspected that the canoes had been artificially fixed in that position, and photographed for the deception of innocent foreigners.
The first of the international races at Grindstone Island was held on the 25th ultimo, the course being five times round a one and a half mile course. This gave the Englishmen every advantage of their alleged superior quickness in stays, because of the numerous tacks that had to be made in turning the buoys, besides whatever windward work was necessary in making the courses. Apparently however this was of no avail, for at the finish Baden-Powell’s Nautilus was number eight, and Stewart’s Pearl close behind him. The wind was not quite as fresh as the orthodox Englishmen might wish, and under the conditions that often exist in New York Bay in September, they may fairly hope for a more successful showing. As it is, they have the satisfaction of knowing that the cup was won by an Americanized Englishman, namely R.W. Gibson, of the Mohican Club, Albany. The second to cross the line was E.H. Barney if the Springfield Club, in his curious three masted canoe Pecowsie, and number three was C.B. Vaux of the New York Canoe Club, in his Lassie.