Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hales Trophy Dispute

The Hales Trophy was commissioned by Harold K. Hales in 1935 to embellish the Blue Riband - the honorary title for setting the transatlantic speed record - with an actual prize. Italy's Rex took it first, followed by France's Normandie. The Queen Mary subsequently won the award, but her owners refused to accept it. It was not until 1952 that the trophy would be awarded again; this time to the SS United States.

The Big U would remain unchallenged for the next 38 years - until 1990 when the catamaran Hoverspeed Great Britain claimed the transatlantic record with a time of 3 days and 7 hours. When her owners tried to obtain the old Hales Trophy, however, a controversy erupted.

The award had been set up specifically for passenger liners; the United States Lines American Merchant Marine Museum - which displayed the prize - refused to relinquish the trophy. The Hoverspeed Great Britain had not carried any passengers on this crossing, which was considered a key requirement for the award. It had been an eligible contender, however, as the award's British trustees approved the attempt.

The Americans were ready to take their claim to court, but ultimately decided against it. Carnival Cruise Lines would later give the American Merchant Marine Museum a replica of the Hales Trophy.

References: Barbara Lloyd, "YACHTING; Suit May Be Filed Over Hales Trophy," The New York Times, July 15, 1990, Sports section.

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