The Expert Challenge Cup (The Expert Trophy)

The Expert Challenge Cup (in recent decades known as the Expert Trophy) is an ornate sterling-silver pitcher, 8-1/2 inches tall, that Julian M. Rumsey donated in 1892 to what was then called the Geneva Lake Yacht Club. (Julian M. was the son of Julian S. Rumsey who owned Nettie, the first Sheridan Prize winner.) Rumsey named the trophy after his sloop Expert, winner of the Sheridan Prize in 1890, and he designated it for challenge racing between cat-rigged sandbaggers in the 18- to 21-foot class. Decoration on the silver pitcher includes a faint swallowtail burgee on the handle (perhaps a private signal) and a heavily embossed design (a dogwood blossom, leaves, other flowers) that twines beneath the trophy’s name and those of its first three winners. Engraved on every surface, even the bottom, are the names of winning skippers up to the 1990s. Currently missing is a new wooden base that bore the names of the most recent winners. Starting in 2012, the winner of the Expert Challenge Cup received for one year a plaque with a drawing of Nettie at the top by the late Ted Brennan and the names of the winners since 1996.

On August 27, 1892, John Johnston Jr. won the first of the match races for the Expert Challenge Cup; on September 25, challenger C. F. K. Billings won the trophy; in 1897, Byron Boyden finished first with Walter Jewell at the helm. Within a few years time, Boyden transferred his boat and her equipment (and the trophy) to L. H. Stafford, and competition for the Expert Challenge Cup stopped for close to three decades. Records suggest that the trophy’s return to the Yacht Club in 1927 was facilitated by the efforts of Walter Jewell, Henry H. Porter, and convincing correspondence from Commodore William Nelson Pelouze, Colonel of the First Infantry, Illinois Reserve Militia.

In an effort to restore challenge racing “to the high place it occupied when such historic yachts as Nettie, Vanadis, Whisper, Sphinx, and others competed for the championship of the lake,” LGYC’s officers revised the procedures for challenge racing and selected the relatively new Class E to compete for the trophy. The first match in Class E was in 1927, and the winner was Herb Taylor, a former Olympic swimmer and later the instructor of the Yacht Club’s fledgling Sailing School. In April of 1929, club officers abolished the challenge-cup system and designated the Expert Challenge Cup for fleet competition, as is the case today.

  • 1892 John Johnston Jr. (August 27 challenge race)
  • 1892 C. K. G. Billings (September 25 challenge race)
  • 1897 Byron Boyden/Walter Jewell, skipper (August 13 challenge race)
  • 1927 G. Herbert Taylor (July 3 challenge race)
  • 1927 O. P. Curran Jr. (July 10 challenge race)
  • 1928 O. P. Curran Jr. (August 12 challenge race)
  • 1929 O. P. Curran Jr.
  • 1930 Winfield Craven
  • 1931 Ralph Isham
  • 1932 I. L. Ellwood
  • 1933 I. L. Ellwood
  • 1934 Harold R. Hough
  • 1935 Bruce P. Adams
  • 1936 Bruce P. Adams
  • 1937 Bruce P. Adams
  • 1938 Clarence W. Sills Jr
  • 1939 Colman Brothers
  • 1940 Clarence W. Sills Jr.
  • 1941 Tom Courtney Jr.
  • 1942 Harold R. Hough
  • 1943 Harold R. Hough
  • 1944 Clarence W. Sills Jr./John Clifford, skipper
  • 1945 Harold R. Hough
  • 1946 Clarence W. Sills Jr.
  • 1947 George H. Kiefer Jr.
  • 1948 No race
  • 1949 George H. Kiefer Jr.
  • 1950 George H. Kiefer Jr.
  • 1951 No race
  • 1952 William C. Grunow Jr.
  • 1953 No race
  • 1954 Tom Ferris
  • 1955 Tom Ferris
  • 1956 Tom Ferris
  • 1957 Tom Ferris
  • 1958 William H. Freytag Jr./John R. Perrigo; William H. Freytag Jr., skipper
  • 1959 William H. Freytag Jr./John R. Perrigo; William H. Freytag Jr., skipper
  • 1960 Buddy Melges
  • 1961 Robert E. Pegel
  • 1962 Robert E. Pegel
  • 1963 Robert E. Pegel
  • 1964 Ed Smith
  • 1965 Buddy Melges
  • 1966 Robert E. Pegel
  • 1967 Bob and Jane Pegel
  • 1968 Bob and Jane Pegel
  • 1969 Bob and Jane Pegel
  • 1970 Bob and Jane Pegel
  • 1971 Robert E. Pegel
  • 1972 Kay Larkin
  • 1973 Bill Allen
  • 1974 Bill Allen
  • 1975 Clayton Gaylord
  • 1976 Dave C. Williams/Tom P. Heskith
  • 1977 Bill Allen
  • 1978 John Gluek
  • 1979 No race
  • 1980 Jim McGinley
  • 1981 Jim McGinley
  • 1982 Brian Porter
  • 1983 Brian Porter
  • 1984 Brian Porter
  • 1985 Brian Porter
  • 1986 Robert R. Harring
  • 1987 Jim McGinley
  • 1988 Brian Porter
  • 1989 No race
  • 1990 No race
  • 1991 Jeff Colman
  • 1992 Eugene Wittenstrom
  • 1993 Brian Porter
  • 1994 Brian Porter
  • 1995 Brian Porter
  • 1996 Brian Porter
  • 1997 Brian Porter
  • 1998 Brian Porter
  • 1999 Buddy Melges
  • 2000 J. Wendell Sherry
  • 2001 J. Wendell Sherry
  • 2002 No race
  • 2003 Peter Wall
  • 2004 Scott H. Ripkey
  • 2005 Scott H. Ripkey
  • 2006 Ken Wruk
  • 2007 Brian Porter
  • 2008 Ken Wruk
  • 2009 No race
  • 2010 Frank A. Davenport
  • 2011 Brian Porter
  • 2012 Vincent Porter
  • 2013 Ken Wruk