The little country that could

Miss Supertest III

Mar 25, 2021

Ah yes, Miss Supertest III. As those wonderful Kiwis walked over their competitors to win the America’s Cup, I was reminded of Canada’s almost comparable win of the 1959, 1960 and 1961 Harmsworth Cup.

New Zealand’s win is remarkable. Our cousin NZ is a tiny country even compared to ours with a small population (but a lot of sheep.)  How did they outperform Italy, England and even, yes, the USA?  Stout hearts, great technology and perhaps some luck.  No matter, they remain the champs and showed it.

Hydroplane racing isn’t foiled AC75 sailing but the competition was similar in many ways.  Boat racing is obviously considerably bigger in the US, but Miss Supertest III was an all-Canadian success story, a triumph of engineering, design, and driving. And speed. Built in London, Ontario and driven by Bob Hayward, a farmer-mechanic from Ingersoll, it beat the best boats the American racing world could produce and did it so often that eventually the Harmsworth Cup was retired for 16 years: there were no challengers that could beat it.

This was, reportedly, because Miss S was powered by a superior Rolls Royce engine, (the foil design advantage of its day). The engines were leftover from WWII and the always -patriotic Americans used their homegrown Allison engines, which turned out to be no match for the ultimate World Champion hydroplane, our own Miss Supertest III. Here’s a link to a CY story remembering our champ when it moved to Muskoka in 2019

The Miss Supertest boats were retired following the death of driver Hayward, who was killed while racing predecessor Miss Supertest II about a month after winning the 1961 Harmsworth Cup.

The win was huge news at the time and has inspired quite a number of accounts.

Canada Post issued a commemorative stamp in 2011 honouring Miss Supertest III. She is also featured in a Heritage Minute!

Sixty years later, possibly with more publicity and prominence, (although hydroplane fanatics from six decades ago might correct that), New Zealand has accomplished much the same thing.  Good on ‘em!

John Morris

Online Editor


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