Our grandest trophy, purchased in 1906 by subscription among club members, it is often referred to as “The Canoe”. This was the only permanent trophy for the Mackinac Race until 1927.
What the various scoring rules were that applied over the years as qualifications for determining the winner has been blurred by the passage of time but the clarity of the engraving recognizing the winners endures. Vencedor, Mistral, Vanadis, Valmore, Malvorneen and Olympian are the classic names of the early winners. Tradition over the years has been for the winner to serve champagne from “The Canoe” to all attending competitors at the annual Mackinac Race awards dinner held in the fall following the race. The days of the winner taking “the Canoe” home or perhaps to their club after posting bond of suitable amount are long over but perhaps this explains some of the minor wear on the vessel.
Awarding the Mackinac Cup to a single winner simply could not last in the sport of yacht racing. In keeping with the same traditions we follow today, starting in 1927 the Mackinac Cup was assigned alternatively to the Universal (Racing) Division or the Cruising Division of the time. In 1952 the divisions were referred to as the First Division and the Second
Division, which was determined primarily on yacht size, however, the trophy was alternated as before. Not to leave a simple pattern of alternation alone, in 1971 the Mackinac Committee chose to offer four divisions with no overall award so the Clinch and Ritchie Trophies were called up as division trophies until 1977 when the race reverted to two divisions for most years through 1986.
As the listing of winners shows, the Mackinac Cup was awarded to one of two divisions on an alternating basis since 1987. Divisions have had various names such as IOR, MHS, IMS, PHRF, Americap, ORR, and even One Design over the recent years. Presently, it is alternated between the larger and the smaller monohull yacht divisions under ORR.
A trophy so grand could not be without controversy at some point and it did not take but five years to occur. The gale of 1911 which was credited with the sinking of George Tramel’s schooner Vencedor on the rocks off Fisherman’s Island, west of Charlevoix and east of Grand Traverse Light, was a turning point for the Mackinac Race. Faced with criticism of running a race through the more dangerous northerly portion of Lake Michigan including the hazardous practice of cutting the corner at Waugoshance Point, a slim majority of a highly divided board voted to accept an invitation from Little Traverse Yacht Club to run the race to Harbor Springs. This was much to the consternation of then twice Past Commodore Dr. William L. “Billy” Baum who was the last surviving donor of the Mackinac Cup. Billy declared that the Mackinac Cup should not be awarded for a lesser race and that “it should remain on the shelf” until the Mackinac Race resumed. It did. However, the very generous Little Traverse Yacht Club provided an elegant trophy as substitute for the Mackinac Cup for two years of racing to Harbor Springs. Readers are invited to peruse subsequent interwoven chapters of this tale which follow as narratives for the Harbor Springs Trophy and the Warrington Trophy below.
With a certain amount of artistic license, the Mackinac Cup is fashioned in the shape of a Native American canoe. The detailing is exquisite.