Ishkoodah History

The Ishkoodah

The first regatta at the west end of Lake St-Louis was held in 1897 when W.E. Bolton presented a cup for a race sailed off Thomson’s Point (Beaurepaire). Three boats took part in this race,the Ishkoodah, the Vixen, and the Molly Brown.The race was very close and it was won by R.R. Stevenson, a resident of our area. The name of his boat “Ishkoodah” has been preserved for posterity in the oldest continuing regatta in Canada, the Baie-D’Urfé-Beaurepaire Regatta.

 ishkoodah

“In 1897, three yachts from the Royal St-Lawrence Yacht Club challenged one another to a race at the west end of Lake St-Louis. Their owner’s goal was to not only prove the supremacy of their craft and crew, but to encourage sailing at the far end of the lake. The competitors raced along a rather unique T-shaped course, which is still sailed today. One of the great names in Montreal’s sailing community, R.R. Stevenson won the first race in his yacht the Ishkoodah. Wanting to perpetuate the regatta, Mr. Stevenson generously donated a sterling silver trophy, to be competed for on a handicap by all yachts entering the event. It was named the Ishkoodah Cup, after his yacht. With that, the Bayview and-Beaurepaire Regatta quickly established itself as one of the biggest regattas of the Lake St-Louis sailing season. Originally it was sailed at the end of the summer and marked the finish of the local racing calendar.

“In the early years there were four classes, twenty-twos, four raters, knockabouts and dinghies. In more modern times the number of classes grew, particularly with the advent of fibreglass boats in the sixties. From four classes and twenty to thirty entries, the regatta continued to expand in popularity, peaking in the sixties and seventies when it was not uncommon to have two hundred to two hundred and fifty entries competing in ten or more classes. With the decline in the racing scene on Lake St-Louis the number of entries has dropped, but the regatta still attracts fifty or more boats each year.

“While the regatta is commonly referred to as the Ishkoodah Cup, its official name is the Baie d’Urfe-Beaurepaire Regatta. The Ishkoodah Cup is awarded to the one design keelboat (Sharks, Tanzer 22s, J24’s etc.) with the best, corrected time. But there are many other beautiful and historic trophies awarded each year. The Yawl Cup is a stunning sterling silver masterpiece that causes the America’s Cup to pale. It goes to the fastest yacht in the PHRF 1 & 2 and open keelboat classes. Other trophies of note are the Duggan Planning Cup and the Beaurepaire Cup, both awarded to dinghy classes and the Catamaran Cup. Of special note is the Lake St-Louis Cup, which is awarded to the member of a junior squadron with the best, corrected time.

“This wonderful old regatta is unique for a number of reasons, first the location and the course. Our friends at Baie d’Urfe and Ile Perrot Yacht Clubs are regular sailors at the west end of the lake. But, the rest of us may seldom venture to the far side of Dowker’s. Second, the original T-course is stilled sailed regardless of wind direction, making for interesting starts some times, and always challenging tactics. Third, the regatta attracts many different boats that you do not normally see on a racecourse these days, a trimaran, a beautiful mahogany Dragon and others. But what is really unique about the “Ishkoodah Cup” is that it is not hosted by a yacht club. Rather it is organised by the Baie d’Urfe Beaurepaire Regatta Committee. Originally the committee members had to be residents of Baie’ d’Urfe or Beaurepaire, in accordance with the deed of gift for the Ishkoodah Cup. Today’s committee members reside in a number of West Island suburbs and hail from RSTLYC, PCYC, BYC, BDYC, IPYC and HYC.”

By Tony McBride