The Duke of York Trophy
(the basis for this article was taken from Embassy Grand Prix Programme 1977)
Soon after WWI, under the unrealistically costly shadow of building and entering unlimited engined boats for the Harmsworth Trophy, a small group of enthusiasts decided to develop a class of boat costing no more than £300, by limiting the engine capacity to perhaps, 1.5 litres.
In 1922, Mr Jack Brooke of Lowestoft (uncle to Tom Percival) built the world’s very first 1.5 litre powerboat – a 30hp, 15ft hydroplane called Mr Poo with a maximum speed of 28.25 knots.
Then in 1923 the International Motor Yachting Union (forerunner of the UIM), based in Brussels officially recognised the 1.5 litre powerboat, calling it the Z/K Class – which soon became nicknamed the “Mosquito” Class.
In April 1924, it was officially announced that the Duke of York’s International Trophy was to be offered for 1.5-
One day, a wealthy millionaire by the name of John Edward Johnston-
During the 1926 contest for the Duke of York Trophy, the Duke himself was present, and by way of showing his practical interest in the proceedings, he asked for a cruise over the River Thames course. I had Miss Betty standing by and he asked to come on board, so I took him down the course, with my wife sitting next to him in the stern.”
In 1929 the fastest 1.5 litre, 100-
By 1971 there were few, if any, inboard powerboats, and the majority of outboard engines were made in America. If the ‘Deed of Gift’ remained unaltered there would not be a British competitor. The Queen Mother (see letter) graciously agreed and for the next five years the trophy was hotly contested for at the Windermere Grand Prix, the last big Grand Prix of the racing season.
In 1971 the Italian ace and current World Formula 1 champion, Renato Molinari, won the trophy, with Britain’s Bob Spalding winning it the following year. 1973 saw the first mighty unlimited Rotary engines from OMC, and it was with one of these that the American team of Mike Downard and Tom Posey captured the trophy. It returnd to British hands in 1974 when Clive Hook and his South African co-
In 1977 this most coveted of awards was presented by Count Johnston Noad to Renato Molinari, the Formula 1 winner at the Embassy Grand Prix.
The trophy was won in following years by:
Original drawing for Duke of York trophy Underground poster. (date and designer credit needed).
Below is a series of photos taken for WD and HO Wills in 1980.
Above: Copy of letter from Clarence House.
Below: Valuation letter for the Duke of York Trophy, dated May 16, 1980.
Below: Duke of York Press Release dated, 5.1.77.