Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Original Trophy Is Missing

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Original Trophy Is Missing

Article excerpt

In two weeks, some 300 sail-racers will be competing for the DuPont Cup trophy in the Epping Forest Yacht Club's annual DuPont Regatta.

What most people don't know is that this Cup, which is awarded to the first boat in the overall PHRF fleet, is a johnny-come-lately.

The first DuPont Cup was established in 1936, and unlike the one that'll go to the winner of the March 13 regatta, it was awarded to the high-points racer annually.

It was named for Albert I. DuPont by his wife, Jesse Ball DuPont. Albert, of course, built the magnificent estate at Epping Forest which now serves as the EFYC clubhouse.

Leland Bell -- who with other Jacksonville sailors like R.M. Fortson, Billy Arnold, George Gibbs Sr. and Jr., and Lyle Vernier, started organizing sail-racing on the St. Johns River in 1937 -- remembered that the cup was magnificent.

"It was a huge, tall silver cup, a beautiful thing," Bell, an 88-year-old retired paper salesman and World War II Navy Reserve officer, said in the den of his home on River Road in San Marco.

"There were trophies for each regatta, of course, but the DuPont Cup was to be awarded to the sailor who compiled the most points during the whole year," he said.

The scanty records indicate that the Cup was first awarded to then 17-year-old Billy Arnold in 1938, sailing a gaff-rigged sloop. Arnold won seven of the summer races and finished second in the other.

Whether or not the trophy was awarded in 1939-41 is open to question, but in any event World War II ended recreational sailing in the area when most of the racers were called up for the war.

The present whereabouts of the elegant first DuPont Cup is unknown, but the Epping Forest YC would like to know where it is.

"I went away to the war, like everyone else, and we don't what happened to it," Bell said. …

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