Many will recognise that the Frederick Challener murals in the Billiard Room depict the hobbies and pursuits of the McLaughlin Family. A favoured among our guests is the painting above the snooker score board, an image of Lake Ontario by the Scarborough Bluffs with one of the McLaughlin family yachts, the Eleanor, out for a sail. Rarely have I spent much time musing on the other crafts depicted, which is my oversight, because knowing RS McLaughlin and his commission of Challener to capture family interests and the like, I should not have been surprised when I happened to stumble upon an interesting find the other day, the identity of the lapstrake motorboat, otherwise known as a gentleman’s runabout in front of the Eleanor.
According to a 1926 Globe article, “Some Unique Painting for McLaughlin Home“, which provided the epiphany of identity, we are viewing the Rainbow IV, “Built in 1924, she had a most distinguished, if controversial, racing career, having won the 1924 Gold Cup race, only to be disqualified by the APBA” (Mark Howard, Early Lakes Region Boating). I should also state that the Rainbow IV was designed by George Crouch, identified in my research, as one of the greatest authorities on speedboat design in the world circa 1924.
The Rainbow IV was built by Ditchburn Boats a manufacturer of wooden pleasure craft launches and racing boats located in Gravenhurst. At one time the company was the largest boat manufacturer in the Great Lakes region. Ditchburn is particularly known for producing high quality mahogany launches which have become highly prized by collectors in recent years. Ditchburn was in operation from 1871 to the 1930s, becoming victims of the Great Depression. It surfaced after and contributed to the war effort, but the days of the mahogany ‘get- abouts’ was over.
The Rainbow series of motorboats was commissioned by Hamilton native, and industrialist, known ashis originality resulted in the development of a hydroplane, which made boating history. As his enthusiasm for the sport grew, his true talent began to shine. He rocked the power boat word in the Roaring Twenties, shattering world records for speed and endurance. His active racing career dated from 1904 to 1929, but his contribution to the sport through various associations and governing bodies continued for many years.”
the father of Canadian Powerboat Racing, Harry B Greening. According to the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame, “
Greening liked to compete powerboats in the APBA Gold Cup Races, part of the mecca for power boat racing, the Detroit Gold Cup Regatta. The Gold Cup being the oldest active trophy in motor sports, hydroplane racing. In fact, the first major race to be run on the Detroit River was the 1916 APBA Gold Cup, which saw both American and Canadian crafts in the mix.
The 1924 Gold Cup Controversy
Greening’s Rainbow IV had apparently won the race but was seen by some as being a hydroplane rather than a displacement hull. And so, a protest was filed.
The craft’s bottom was of lapstrake construction, which was technically permitted by the rules. The APBA decided, however, that the strakes had been installed for the express purpose of achieving a hydroplane effect. In other words, Greening had followed the letter of the rules but not the spirit of them.
As a result, Rainbow IV was disqualified and Caleb Bragg’s Baby Bootlegger was moved from an overall second to first position. This action effectively ended the Gold Cup career of Harry Greening. He never raced for the cup again.
However, Greening did not shrink away, and from all the articles that I have subsequently read about the Commodore, which is what he is called in “polite circles” ( Robert H Combs, Breaking World’s Record, 1925), Greening was a tenacious fellow. He set out to beat a world record which he already held, the following references Greening breaking the world record from The Canadian Magazine, May 1926;