Sheridan PrizeSheridan Prize close-up

It has been called the great race of our club. From the start, even before there was a beautiful trophy or an official Yacht Club, the Sheridan Race generated enthusiasm among competitors, boat owners, and the townspeople from around Geneva Lake who lined the shore. The colorful story of this event begins on August 31, 1874, when Lieutenant General Philip H. Sheridan, the Civil War hero then stationed in Chicago, visited Lake Geneva. To celebrate the occasion, his hosts and friends planned a regatta in his honor and collected $200 for a trophy. Seven boats—they were known as sandbaggers—competed in the Sheridan Race that day, and the winner on corrected time was the 21-foot topsail sloop Nettie, sailed by Billy Woods and owned by Julian S. Rumsey, a successful grain merchant in Chicago and that city’s former mayor. In the year that followed, Chicago silversmiths Giles, Brother & Company created a handsome trophy, a 10-inch silver model of the Nettie on a flat oval surface that is inscribed “Sheridan Prize Sailed for Annually on Geneva Lake the Last Saturday in August.” These words are surrounded by the engraved names of the winners, which continue on the base and on rows of silver bands added over the years.

To ensure responsible management of the event and its trophy, the General’s friends drafted a Trust Agreement and appointed trustees to oversee and “control all questions relating to this prize.” The first trustees were George L. Dunlap and N. K. Fairbank. (The LGYC centennial book also includes General Sheridan’s host, Charles Wilson, as a trustee.) The current Sheridan Prize trustees are Commodore F. Terrence Blanchard, Michael K. Keefe , and Charles R. Lamphere.

Initially, the only yachts eligible to compete for the Sheridan Prize were the open sandbaggers on Geneva Lake. At a meeting of the Yacht Club on August 21, 1899, with the sandbagger type on the wane, the members, “with the consent of Mr. N. K. Fairbank, Trustee,” changed this requirement to read that “All yachts competing for the Sheridan Prize must be eligible to Class A of the Inland Lake Yachting Association.” The boats also had to belong on Geneva Lake. At a Yacht Club meeting on April 26, 1952, the officers and trustees agreed that the race “is to be open only to yachts belonging to Bona Fide Regular Members of the Lake Geneva Yacht Club.” The Trust Agreements from 1936 and 1969 state that “There must be a race once each year for Class A yachts, same to be for the Sheridan Prize, from the City of Lake Geneva to Fontana and return with a time limit of five hours. The race, if possible, should be sailed on the last Saturday of August each year, subject to the approval of the Trustees.” There have been other adjustments to the terms. From 1975 to 1978, for example, when the A fleet was all but dormant, the trustees invited Class E boats to race. The course has varied, too. Some regatta announcements stated that the race for the Sheridan shall “every alternate year, start from the City of Lake Geneva.” In March 2013, the Sheridan Prize trustees added an amendment to the 1969 Trust Agreement covering the Sheridan Prize as follows: “The Sheridan Prize shall be sailed for annually on the last Saturday in August, unless otherwise re-scheduled or re-sailed at the discretion of the trustees. The race shall be sailed in One Design Class A Scows, as defined by the National Class A Scow Association. It is open only to yachts whose owners and skippers are members in good standing of the Lake Geneva Yacht Club and are eligible to race under its Bylaws. The race will start at the Yacht Club with the fleet sailing a windward course, if possible, to either Fontana or Lake Geneva, then to a mark at the other end of the lake, and then back to the Yacht Club to finish. The time limit for the first yacht to finish is six hours. A single boat starting and completing the race within the time limit constitutes an official race.”

The owner of the winning yacht receives a three-inch replica of the Nettie, and crew members receive commemorative pins. After the 1894 race, the winning crew received gold scarf pins, and the second- and third-place crews received cash prizes.

Tattler winning the Sheridan Prize in 1892

Tattler winning the Sheridan Prize in 1892

  • 1874 Nettie, Julian S. Rumsey/Billy Woods, skipper
  • 1875 Nettie, Julian S. Rumsey
  • 1876 Geneva, General Arthur Charles Ducat
  • 1877 Whisper, N. K. Fairbank
  • 1878 Whisper, N. K. Fairbank
  • 1879 Geneva, Miss C. L. Ford
  • 1880 Whisper, N. K. Fairbank
  • 1881 Ethel, Ed. E. Ayer
  • 1882 Ethel, Ed. E. Ayer
  • 1883 Blossom, L. Z. Leiter
  • 1884 Whisper, N. K. Fairbank
  • 1885 Whisper, Kellogg Fairbank
  • 1886 Whisper, Kellogg Fairbank
  • 1887 Whisper, Kellogg Fairbank
  • 1888 Viking, William Napper
  • 1889 Viking, H. H. Porter Jr.
  • 1890 Whisper, Kellogg Fairbank
  • 1891 Expert, Julian M. Rumsey
  • 1892 Tattler, O. W. Norton
  • 1893 Precept, W. L. Hodgkins
  • 1894 Lorna, Julian M. Rumsey (owner and skipper)
  • 1895 Lorna, Julian M. Rumsey
  • 1896 Lorna, Julian M. Rumsey
  • 1897 Lorna, C. K. G. Billings and W. S. McCrae
  • 1898 Lorna, Julian M. Rumsey
  • 1899 Algonquin, Benjamin Carpenter, Fairbank, Heyworth, and Porter
  • 1900 Mahoohoo, H. H. Porter Jr.
  • 1901 Mahoohoo, H. H. Porter Jr.
  • 1902 Hostess, Frank B. Wood
  • 1903 Peshtigo, George Sloan, Olin Burton, and C. E. Rollins Jr.
  • 1904 Buccaneer, George P. Braun Jr.
  • 1905 Warrior, Frank J. Graham
  • 1906 White Heather, David P. Stearns
  • 1907 Black Point, Dr. O. L. Schmidt, Albert F. Madlener, and William C. Seipp
  • 1908 Black Point, Dr. O. L. Schmidt, Albert F. Madlener, and William C. Seipp
  • 1909 Widgeon, Fred Clifford
  • 1910 Geneva, James A. Holden
  • 1911 Masquerader, Byron Boyden
  • 1912 Kishwauketoc, Marquette A. Healy
  • 1913 Senta, Dr. O. L. Schmidt
  • 1914 Senta, Dr. O. L. Schmidt
  • 1915 Senta, Dr. O. L. Schmidt
  • 1916 Senta, Dr. O. L. Schmidt
  • 1917 Anacoma, Healy Brothers
  • 1918 Senta, Dr. O. L. Schmidt
  • 1919 Tomboy, Mogg Brothers
  • 1920 Senta, Dr. O. L. Schmidt
  • 1921 Tomboy, Mogg Brothers
  • 1922 Viking, Henry H. Porter and Ralph N. Isham
  • 1923 La Belle II, Col. William Nelson Pelouze
  • 1924 Tomboy, Mogg Brothers
  • 1925 Viking III, Henry H. Porter
  • 1926 Viking III, Henry H. Porter
  • 1927 Bottoms Up, James N. Rawleigh
  • 1928 Viking III, H. H. Porter
  • 1929 Viking III, H. H. Porter
  • 1930 Viking III, H. H. Porter
  • 1931 Viking III, H. H. Porter
  • 1932 Sweepstakes, Fred G. Wacker
  • 1933 Little Smoke II, H. N. Gifford/John F. Perrigo, skipper
  • 1934 Black Point III, Ernst C. Schmidt
  • 1935 Big Foot, A. F. Gartz Jr.
  • 1936 Big Foot Too, A. F. Gartz Jr.
  • 1937 Big Foot Too, A. F. Gartz Jr.
  • 1938 Big Foot Too, A. F. Gartz Jr.
  • 1939 Enterprise, Robert G. Ferris and Henry H. Porter
  • 1940 Chief Big Foot, A. F. Gartz Jr.
  • 1941 Little Smoke III, H. N. Gifford/John F. Perrigo, skipper
  • 1942 Chief Big Foot, A. F. Gartz Jr.
  • 1943 Little Smoke III, H. N. Gifford/John F. Perrigo, skipper
  • 1944 Quest, Melville C. Jones
  • 1945 Quest, Melville C. Jones
  • 1946 Little Smoke III, Perrigo Brothers/John F. Perrigo, skipper
  • 1947 Quest, Melville C. Jones
  • 1948 Junior, Arthur W. Wakeley/ Jack Vilas Jr., skipper
  • 1949 Black Point III, Ernst C. Schmidt/Buddy Melges, skipper
  • 1950 Val-Lo-Will, William C. Grunow, Harry C. Melges, skipper
  • 1951 Val-Lo-Will, William C. Grunow Jr.
  • 1952 Idiyacht’s Delight, Hal S. Gefvert
  • 1953 Black Point IV, Ernst C. Schmidt/Buddy Melges, skipper
  • 1954 Val-Lo-Will, Wiliam C. Grunow Jr.
  • 1955 Black Point IV, Ernst C. Schmidt/Buddy Melges, skipper
  • 1956 Val-Lo-Will, William C. Grunow Jr.
  • 1957 White Heat, Harry C. Melges
  • 1958 Senta III, Ernst C. Schmidt
  • 1959 No race
  • 1960 Sabre Jet, Jack Vilas
  • 1961 No race
  • 1962 Don Quixote, Donald P. Frankel and Eugene W. Simon
  • 1963 Don Quixote, Donald P. Frankel and Eugene W. Simon
  • 1964 O’Dolly, Harry C. Melges/Bill Bentsen, skipper
  • 1965 Don Quixote, Donald P. Frankel and Eugene W. Simon/Bill Bentsen, skipper
  • 1966 Compoz, William H. Sills III
  • 1967 Compoz, William H. Sills III
  • 1968 Pintail, Buddy Melges
  • 1969 Pintail, Harry C. Melges
  • 1970 Poseidon, Ronald L. Schloemer
  • 1971 Compoz, William H. Sills III
  • 1972 Scotch Foursome, Gerald Schloemer
  • 1973 Compoz, William H. Sills III/Melville C. Jones, skipper
  • 1974 Compoz, William H. Sills III/George Beukema, skipper
  • 1975 Squall, Clayton R. Gaylord (Class E)
  • 1976 Hare, William C. Allen (Class E)
  • 1977 Shypoke, John E. Gluek Jr. (Class E)
  • 1978 Tomahawk, Jeff Colman, Charles Colman, Walter Colman/Jeff Colman, skipper (Class E)
  • 1979 Excalibur, Martin W. Ford and Dennis Menasco
  • 1980 Invader, Gene Trepte/John Porter, skipper
  • 1981 Invader, Gene Trepte/Katie Freytag, skipper
  • 1982 Invader, Gene Trepte/John Porter, skipper
  • 1983 Pintail, Buddy Melges, Steve Miller, Robert Novak/ Robert Novak, skipper
  • 1984 Invader, Gene Trepte/John Porter, skipper
  • 1985 Phoenix, William H. Sills III/George Beukema, skipper
  • 1986 Phoenix, William H. Sills III/George Beukema, skipper
  • 1987 Invader, Gene Trepte/John Porter, skipper
  • 1988 No race
  • 1989 No race
  • 1990 Pintail, Buddy Melges
  • 1991 Pintail, Buddy Melges
  • 1992 Invader, Gene Trepte/John Porter, skipper
  • 1993 Kanza, William Koch/ George Beukema, skipper
  • 1994 Vanguard, Peter Nauert/Brian Porter, skipper
  • 1995 Afterburner, Erich Schloemer
  • 1996 Afterburner, Erich Schloemer
  • 1997 Full Throttle, John Porter
  • 1998 Kanza, Bill Koch/ Buddy Melges, skipper
  • 1999 Full Throttle, John Porter
  • 2000 No name on trophy
  • 2001 Full Throttle, John Porter
  • 2002 Full Throttle, John Porter
  • 2003 Eagle, John Anderson and David Weinberg/Buddy Melges, skipper
  • 2004 Full Throttle, John Porter
  • 2005 G-Force, Tom Whowell/George Beukema, skipper
  • 2006 White Magic, Chuck Lamphere
  • 2007 No name on trophy
  • 2008 Mad Cap, Tom Freytag and Ken Wruk/Tom Freytag, skipper
  • 2009 Eagle, John Anderson/Buddy Melges, skipper
  • 2010 Eagle, John Anderson/Buddy Melges, skipper
  • 2011 Eagle, John Anderson/Buddy Melges, skipper
  • 2012 White Magic, Chuck Lamphere
  • 2013 White Magic, Chuck Lamphere
  • 2014 Eagle, Ryan Fitzgerald/Vincent Porter, skipper
  • 2015 Mad Cap, Thomas Freytag