A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SUSAN HOOD TROPHY RACE
by John Weakley
A long time ago (back in the 50’s), the vast majority of what we now call Racer/Cruiser yachts were custom built, usually of wood, and at the west end of Lake Ontario the only measurement handicap system was the Cruising Club of America (CCA) Rule. There were two major drawbacks to this rule: you had to have your yacht weighed, and in almost all cases you had to have a set of plans. There were several other performance rules in which your handicap changed each time you raced (just like your golf handicap) but as Doug Hood said “That was fine if you were a golfer, but the losers kept winning.”
In the spring of 1955, Doug Hood, a member of Port Credit Yacht Club, approached George Cuthbertson (the big George of C&C) and offered to put up a trophy if someone would produce a simple measurement system for handicapping custom built yachts. Big George told Doug of the “Gruthbertson” Rule that he and Colonel Grant had designed and that had been tried in Kingston. (Col. Grant was a professor at RMC and very active in sailing). Under this Rule, the yacht was measured in the water and not weighed. They decided to try it out with Doug donating the trophy named after his brand new bouncing baby daughter Susan. Approximately 25 boats were measured and the first race was held in early June. The course was Port Credit to Oakville to Port Dalhousie and back to Port Credit. In spite of a fire on one yacht, very little wind, and Doug winning his own trophy (in a Cruising 6 Metre “Junge”), the race was a great success.
The rule became known as the Lake Ontario Rule and an organization was formed to issue rating certificates. For the next 35 years LOR was the most popular handicap system on the lake until it was replaced by PHRF, a handicap system that in most cases only requires the measurement of sails.
Today, the Susan Hood Trophy is presented to the yacht winning PHRF overall, with other trophies for the division winners. It is believed that this is the only case where the title trophy is not awarded to the winner of the “Grand Prix” class (CCA, IOR, and now IMS), although there are trophies for those divisions as well.
“Excerpted from an article entitled “Susan Hood Has A Birthday Coming” which appeared in the May 1994 edition of the PCYC Newsletter “Credit Notes”. That article was based on a conversation with Doug Hood.”