The folks up in Canada take their vintage hydroplane history very seriously. A few weeks ago Woody Boater ran a story about the historic Greavette hydroplane named “Miss Canada IV”. In early July the unique 1949 33′ two-step design by Douglas Van Patten was relocated back to her original home in Gravenhurst, Ontario to be restored for her film debut in “Harold and Lorna.” The upcoming television docudrama is about the lives of its original owner/driver Harold Wilson, his racing mechanic wife Lorna and the amazing racing dynasty spearheaded by Harold’s father Ernest Wilson.
The Town of Gravenhurst hosted a “Welcome Home” event for “Miss Canada IV” in conjuction with the Toronto Chapter ACBS Antique & Classic Boat Show and proclaimed it as “Miss Canada IV Day.” (To see the “Miss Canada IV” story on Woody Boater you can click here)
After Harold & Lorna Wilson retired from competitive racing in 1950, the Wilson family sold “Miss Canada IV” to J. Gordon Thompson of Sarnia, Ontario. “Miss Canada IV” was then raced by the Thompson’s as the original “Miss Supertest” in 1952 & 1953. This was the first of three legendary hydroplanes to race under the name of “Miss Supertest” campaigned by J. Gordon Thompson.
“Miss Supertest III” was undefeated in the four races that she entered, the 1959 Detroit Memorial Regatta and the 1959-60-61 Harmsworth Trophy races. With Bob Hayward driving, “Miss Supertest III” started in ten heats, finished first in eight of them and placed second twice, a remarkable record for the period.
On August 6,7,& 8 the Prince Edward Chamber of Tourism & Commerce in Picton, Ontario has organized a three day event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Miss Supertest III”. To help make this event even better, the Toronto Chapter ACBS has joined forces with the Trent-Severn Antique and Classic Boat Association and the Manotick Boat Club for a Rendezvous in Picton on August 6th and 7th, 2011.
Kathy Rhodes the Editor of Classicboat Magazine (the Toronto Chapter ACBS quarterly publication) sent us this great article on “Miss Supertest III” written by Terry Clifton for Classicboat magazine.
Canada Post will Honour the Legendary Race Boat Supertest III – Join us August 6 & 7
This August, 50 years since her last visit here, Canada’s most famous race boat “Miss Supertest III” will once again make waves in Picton, Ontario. Canada Post is marking the 50th anniversary of her international racing victories on Monday, August 8, 2011 with the release of a commemorative stamp at the conclusion of a celebration weekend in Picton. The community was the site of two of the legendary unlimited hydroplane’s greatest victories in 1960 and 1961.
The launch of the stamp is part of a weekend of events celebrating this Canadian sports achievement, the members of the Thompson family, who owned and designed the three Miss Supertest boats, and the late Bob Hayward, the boat’s popular driver, who died tragically during a race on the Detroit River in Miss Supertest II just weeks after his last Harmsworth Trophy at Picton. Following his death, the Supertest boats were retired.
The last of them, Miss Supertest III faded from view after being on display at the Ontario Science Centre, with only occasional public appearances. This will be a chance for a whole new generation to discover this Canadian icon as well as many other vintage racing boats expected to be on display that weekend in Picton.
In 1957, Miss Supertest l set a world water speed record of 184.494 M.P.H. (still a Canadian record) piloted by Art Asbury. In 1959, 1960, and 1961, Miss Supertest, driven by Bob Hayward, thrilled dignitaries and tens of thousands of enthusiastic spectators as she raced to victory against her American competitors for the international Harmsworth Trophy.
Powered by a 2000 H.P. V12 Rolls Royce Griffon engine originally used in the late model versions of Britain’s legendary Spitfire aircraft during the Second World War, this boat was built for speed and to break the American domination of the sport.
Her first victory in the Detroit River in 1959 ended a string of American racing successes that stretched back unbroken for 39 years. Miss Supertest III will be the centrepiece of a weekend of events August 6, 7, 8 at Picton. An antique boat show is planned together with a memorial service for Bob Hayward, the postage stamp release, and the showing of a new documentary about the famous Canadian boats.
Don’t miss your opportunity to be part of this historic event.
By Terry Clifton / Classicboat Magazine
Thanks to Terry Clifton and Kathy Rhodes of Classicboat Magazine for sharing this story with us.
Below is the event poster provided by Diane Stuart Denyes-Wenn and the Prince Edward Chamber of Tourism & Commerce. For more information on the upcoming “Miss Supertest III” Celebration, you can go directly to their web site by clicking here. You can click on the poster below to slightly enlarge the image.
The images & YouTube Video for this story are courtesy of the Mariners Park Museum / Thompson Family Collection in Milford, Ontario.
If you are planning to be in the Southern Ontario area in a few weeks, plan to stop by and support all the folks and organizations who are working hard behind the scenes to make this event a success.