Canada's Cup

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The Canada's Cup is a perpetual trophy awarded to the winner of a sailing match race between a yacht representing a Canadian yacht club and a yacht representing an American yacht club.

The Canada’s Cup is a silver trophy, deeded in perpetuity to be awarded to the winner of a series of match races between a yacht representing a Canadian yacht club and one representing an American club, both to be located on the Great Lakes.[1]

Until 2001, the Cup matches were a test of the challenger’s and the defender’s abilities to design and build a yacht to the prevailing measurement rule, and to sail that yacht to victory. Since 2001, Cup challenges have been sailed in Farr 40 one-design yachts and Eight Metre yachts, so the competition is centred on sailing skills and tactics.

In 2018 the RCYC committed to a schedule of three competitions, in 2020, 2022 and 2024, to be sailed in Melges IC37 class yachts.[2][3]

The Cup is a unique trophy, approximately 30 cm (12 inches) high excluding base, specifically crafted for a cross-border sailing competition in 1896, and is an engraved bowl, gilt inside, whose richly embellished supporting pedestal depicts a lion and an eagle.


In 1895, the Lincoln Park Yacht Club of Chicago[4] challenged the Royal Canadian Yacht Club of Toronto (RCYC) to a series of races, to be held on “neutral” waters in the summer of 1896. As yacht racing was then a popular spectator sport, several cities competed to have the competition held in their waters; the winner was Toledo, Ohio, which put up a silver trophy made by Tiffany & Co. along with a cash prize of $1,500 (over $31,000 in today’s purchasing power[5]) – a customary practice in those days.

The yacht Canada (left) skippered by Aemilius Jarvis crosses tacks with Vencedor on Lake Erie near Toledo, Ohio, in the 1896 Canada's Cup match-racing series from which Canada emerged the victor.

The American yacht, Vencedor, already in build at the time of the challenge, was a 63-foot cutter drawn by Thorwald S. Poekel, the former chief draughtsman at the renowned Herreshoff Manufacturing Company. The Canadian response was a 57-foot cutter designed by William Fife and named Canada. In the summer of 1896, both yachts sailed in company to Toledo, racing against other yachts along the way and building excitement along their respective voyages.

Canada won the first race in moderate weather. The following day brought high winds and rain; not wanting to expose a prized mainsail to high wind and rain, Vencedor's skipper asked for a lay day.[6] Realizing how disadvantaged his vessel would be in heavy weather, Canada's skipper, Aemilius Jarvis, agreed to the postponement. The following day, the weather moderated and Canada took the series with two straight wins, collecting the cash and the trophy.

Jarvis and his syndicate then deeded the Cup to RCYC “as a perpetual challenge cup for friendly competition between representatives of yacht clubs of the two nations bordering on the Great Lakes.”[7] Jarvis would sail for the Cup four more times, as defender and challenger before relinquishing the helm to another RCYC member.

Defiant and Heartbreaker cross tacks in the 2003 Canada's Cup match, closely followed by umpire boats.

Conditions For Competition[edit]

A challenge must be cross-border (a US club may not challenge a US club nor a Canadian club another Canadian club), but other than that restriction, any yacht club on the Great Lakes may issue a challenge to the current holder. Once the challenge has been accepted, the defending club must select a defender from within the club. The challenger, however, must open its selection to any yacht from its own side of the border. In some years, the result has been an intense round of races on both sides to select the boats for the final series.

In theory, choice of the type of yacht is the sole prerogative of the challenger; in practice, it is the subject of negotiation, not only to accord with the current appreciation of what constitutes an appropriate vessel for competition at this level, but to leaven the considerable expense with a design that would have a respectable service life after the contest. Accordingly, yachts have been designed to whatever leading-edge but acceptably stable rating rule was in force at the time. Canada and Vencedor were designed to the Seawanhaka rule. Subsequent vessels have been built to the Universal Rule, Girth Rule, The International Rule and Cruising Club of America Rule, then the International Offshore Rule and MORC. From 2001 until 2011, the Farr 40 one-design yacht was used. Choice of this design not only assured owners of having a useful boat at the end of the series, it had the effect of focussing the competition on crew and tactical skills. In preparations for the 2016 challenge, the guiding committee found both potential challengers and defenders reluctant to compete with this boat. As no suitable contemporary one-design production boat met the twin criteria of performance and prestige, the committee anointed the 8-Metre, an International Rule type used in the 1930, 1932, and 1934 challenges and last sailed for Canada's Cup competition in 1954.[8] Modern 8-Metres are powerful and sophisticated vessels well suited to match racing. The choice was successful, inasmuch as three boats sailed for the right to challenge and three boats sailed to be chosen as defender.[9] The 8-Metre World Cup in Toronto three weeks before Canada's Cup competition helped generate an unusual level of media interest for both events.


Year Victor Club Skipper Defeated Club Skipper Venue
1896 Canada Royal Canadian Yacht Club Aemilius Jarvis Vencedor Lincoln Park Yacht Club* Captain J. G. Barbour Toledo
1899 Genesee Chicago Yacht Club C. G. Davis Beaver Royal Canadian Yacht Club Aemilius Jarvis Chicago
1901 Invader Royal Canadian Yacht Club Aemilius Jarvis Cadillac of Detroit Chicago Yacht Club W. M. Hale Thompson Chicago
1903 Irondequoit Rochester Yacht Club Jas. Barr Strathcona Royal Canadian Yacht Club Aemilius Jarvis Toronto
1905 Iroquois Rochester Yacht Club L. G. Mabbett Temeraire Royal Canadian Yacht Club E. K. M. Wedd Rochester
1907 Seneca Rochester Yacht Club Addison G. Hanon Adele Royal Canadian Yacht Club Aemilius Jarvis Rochester
1930 Thisbe Rochester Yacht Club W. P. Barrows Quest Royal Canadian Yacht Club N. R. Gooderham Rochester
1932 Conewago Rochester Yacht Club Wilmot V. Castle Invader II Royal Canadian Yacht Club Walter Windeyer Rochester
1934 Conewago Rochester Yacht Club Wilmot V. Castle Invader II Royal Canadian Yacht Club Walter Windeyer Rochester
1954 Venture II Royal Canadian Yacht Club David Howard Iskareen Rochester Yacht Club Howard Klitgard Rochester
1969 Manitou Royal Canadian Yacht Club P. R. Connolly & Gordon Fisher Niagara Cleveland Yachting Club John Lovett Toronto
1972 Dynamite Bayview Yacht Club Lloyd Ecclestone Mirage Royal Canadian Yacht Club Gordon Fisher Toronto
1975 Golden Dazy Bayview Yacht Club Don Criner Marauder Royal Canadian Yacht Club David Howard Detroit
1978 Evergreen Royal Hamilton Yacht Club Don Green Agape Bayview Yacht Club Terry Kohler Detroit
1981 Coug Royal Hamilton Yacht Club Tony Ronza Black Magic Bayview Yacht Club Mike Thompson Hamilton
1984 Coug II Royal Canadian Yacht Club Tony Ronza Stars and Stripes Bayview Yacht Club Bill Martin Toronto
1988 Challenge 88 Bayview Yacht Club John Uznis Steadfast AT&T Royal Canadian Yacht Club Fred Sherratt Toronto
1994 Champion Eagle Bayview Yacht Club Wally Cross Absolute Royal Canadian Yacht Club Hans Fogh Detroit
2001 Defiant Royal Canadian Yacht Club Terry McLaughlin Saturn Bayview Yacht Club Robert Hughes Detroit
2003 Defiant Royal Canadian Yacht Club Terry McLaughlin Heartbreaker Macatawa Bay Yacht Club Robert Hughes Toronto
2007 Heartbreaker Macatawa Bay Yacht Club Robert Hughes Honour Royal Canadian Yacht Club Alec Krstajic Toronto.
2010 Convexity Chicago Match Race Center Don Wilson Vincere Port Credit Yacht Club Grant Hood Chicago
2011 Vincere Royal Canadian Yacht Club Grant Hood Heritage Macatawa Bay Yacht Club Robert Hughes Macatawa Bay
2016[10] Hollandia Royal Canadian Yacht Club Bryan Gooderham Yquem Youngstown Yacht Club Adam Burns Toronto
  • Merged with Chicago Yacht Club, 1920 [11]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Annals of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Vol. III, 1955-2000, ISBN 1-895244-01-3 (v.3) pp 379-416
  2. ^ " RCYC launches new Canada’s Cup program",
  3. ^ "New Era for Canada’s Cup",
  4. ^ Merged with the Chicago Yacht Club, 1920
  5. ^ The Bank of Canada ( ) and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( ) on-line inflation calculators go back only to 1914 and 1913, respectively, but give a 2012 value for this sum of $30,889.83 and $34,712.73.
  6. ^ A colourful and entertaining account of the Toledo series, retrieved 26/8/12.
  7. ^ Deed of Gift, Royal Canadian Yacht Club Archives.
  8. ^ Private communication with Canada's Cup committee members.
  9. ^ The Wikipedia article focusses on Classic boats; from a match-racing point of view, the principal difference lies in manoeuvrability conferred by the Modern boats' short-chord, bulbed and winged keels.
  10. ^ "Canada’s Hollandia wins the 24th Canada’s Cup Championship", Sept 21, 2016
  11. ^