On Friday, July 27th, we celebrated one of the oldest and longest sailing members of the Chester Yacht Club fleet! Hayseed IV (ex Michicago) celebrated her 100th Birthday this year. Hayseed has called Chester Yacht Club and the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron her home since 1922, all but the first 10 years of her life!
A bit of history of Hayseed for those who don’t know:
Hayseed was designed by William Gardner who was Herreshoff’s great rival and the designer of the schooner Atlantic, which held the transatlantic record until it was broken by Eric Taberly in 1980 on the Trimaran: Paul Ricard. Hayseed was built for a syndicate from the Great Lakes by Wood and McClure in City Island NY, launched in 1912, and christened Michicago.
Hayseed’s first mission was to compete for the Manhasset Bay Challenge Cup as Michicago. The Manhasset Bay Challenge Cup is the oldest yachting trophy competed for annually in the United States. Only the famous America’s Cup and the Brooklyn Cup precede it, and they are competed for at longer intervals. Since 1902, the Challenge Cup has been won by 26 different clubs from Chicago, to Marblehead, to Bermuda. Hayseed IV won the cup shortly after her launching in 1912 and defended it in 1913. As a bit of trivia, CYC’s Seneca also won this cup in 1908.
After a short time, she was bought by oil tycoon Herbert L Bowden and rechristened Hayseed IV and moved to Marblehead MA. Bowden was fiercely competitive. He was in the habit of buying the boats that beat him and renaming them Hayseed. There were nine of them in all. We are aware of only two others that may still be in existence.
Shortly Hayseed IV changed hands yet another time. In 1922 she was bought by C. M. (Cliff) Jack of Halifax Nova Scotia. She promptly won two of the most prestigious cups in Atlantic Canada, the Coronation Cup and the Prince of Wales Cup. This epoch ended with a blood money match race for "pink slips" between Hayseed IV and Windward (another Gardner designed P). The event was a best of seven series which she won in the last race by less than a minute. Having won it all, Cliff Jack lost interest and abandoned Hayseed on Freda’s beach just south of the Chester Yacht Club.
In 1924 she was bought by Mrs. Charles S. Wurts as a gift to her sons Stewart and John. She again won all the prestigious cups in Chester and Halifax including the Prince of Wales trophy. During WW2 she was laid up and afterwards was no longer competitive although actively sailed by General Wurts and his sons John W Wurts Jr and Clarence (Bink) Z Wurts along with many great friends and extended family. Her peers were: The High Tide, The Linett, The White Heather, the various Chester "C"s: Eclipse, Ripple, Ohop, Sajoda, Whim, Mistral, The Benjamin A, etc.
In 1974 at the ripe young age of 54 years old, she was acquired by Albert Walker of Halifax. He campaigned her seriously, eventually giving her a major face-lift: modern rig, synthetic sails and all the go-fast gadgets one can imagine. Once again she won it all but was eventually relegated in the late 1980s to the “hard” at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.
In 1998 she was rediscovered by (Chris)Topher Wurts, the great grandson of Mrs. Charles S Wurts, who convinced the Wurts Family to form a syndicate (made up of family members and Mr. Sifford Pearre to buy her back. Again she resumed her winning ways, and won, among others, the Prince of Wales in 2000 and various Chester Race Weeks.
Quite uniquely, her name appears on a myriad of cups multiple times, over multiple decades and generations, under multiple ownerships.
Today she reigns as the oldest active Chester and Halifax based member of the Chester Classic Fleet.
Hayseed is still actively raced in a fleet of other universal rule P and Q class yachts, along with Chester C’s, Roues, IOD’s and other Heisler design yachts.
Hayseed, along with the other members of the classic fleet will be partaking in the Chester Classics Cup and Chester Race Week, which is one of the largest keel boat regattas on the east coast later this month. Happy Birthday to the ol’ girl! – Anarchist Graham.