U.S. Women's Championship
What is believed to be "the first women’s championship ever held in the world" - surely the first in North America - was for the Hodder Cup placed in competition by Rear Commodore James R. Hodder of the Boston Yacht Club in 1924. The first competition was held at its Hull Station with crews of two girls of 12 years or over in 14-ft Marconi catboats. Listed on the Notice of Race were William Upham Swan as "Originator of Women’s Sailing Contest". He was Yachting Editor of the Boston Globe and Secretary of the Boston Dinghy Club, and listed under him was Leonard M. Fowle, who succeeded him on the Globe and who as Executive Vice-President of the Intecollegiate Yacht Racing Association took intercollegiate sailing continental. The Cup, immediately retired by Ruth and Esther Sears of the Cohasset Yacht Club, was replaced the next year with a trophy presented by Charles Francis Adams, II in honor of his wife. It was retired in 1929 by the Cohasset Yacht Club after winning it three times. Mrs. Adams replaced it with one referred to as Trophy ‘A’ to become the property of the Yacht Club first winning it three times and Trophy ‘B’ to become, on ‘A’s being retired, a perpetual challenge trophy. This occurred in 1934 when the Indian Harbor Yacht Club on Long Island Sound won it for the third time with Lorna Whittelsey at the helm. She later became a distinguished sailor in both one-designs and offshore boats.
In order to relieve the Cohasset Yacht Club of its obligation to conduct the championship - it had done so for nine years - NAYRU was asked to take over. It appointed three Trustees, Mrs. Leonard B. Colt, Mrs. Katharine Stone Hoyt and Mrs. Willis D. Wood. When the Trophy was lost in 1951 during the conflagration of the American Yacht Club on Long Island Sound, Commodore Henry S. Morgan, son-in-law of Mrs. Adams and President of NAYRU, and assisted by the American Yacht Club and the Women’s National Sailing Association (founded in 1933 and became part of NAYRU with Mrs. Willis (Nan) Wood as chairperson until 1950), provided a replacement - the current Adams Trophy. ‘Aunt Nan’, as she was affectionately known to both young and old, also presented to NAYRU a runner-up trophy which bears her name. Further, she started a tradition by providing Ship Shape Prizes for the crew that takes the best care of its boat(s). The practice has spread to other Championships and become an inducement for owners to lend their boats since they often are returned in better condition than when loaned. Third place team receives the Alexander P. Gest Trophy presented by Gest who was frequently involved in the conduct of eliminations and finals of Adams Trophy events. The event is a ladder series starting at the club level. In honor of ‘Frannie’ McElwain Wakeman (noted below as a four-time winner of the Adams Trophy) Committee Member Glenn Lattimore has presented the Francis McElwain Wakeman Sportsmanship Award for the team displaying outstanding sportsmanship.
From 1927 until 1959 racing was in keelboats by which time a centerboarder was reintroduced, and Gold Cup courses were in use. In 1963 the Women’s Committee became the Adams Cup Committee, and its Chairman in 1974, Helen Ingerson, had the distinction of being the first woman elected to the USYRU Board of Directors. Beginning in 1993 the Men's and Women's Championships were held together in alternate years; beginning in 2009, the two merged permanently and their committees blended. . The two fleets use the same race course, sail different classes of boats and enjoy social events together. The joint events have sometimes been hosted by two cooperating, nearby clubs – otherwise by a single club.
In the history of the Trophy four skippers were particularly outstanding: Francis McElwain with four straight wins for the Cohasset Yacht Club, Lorna Whittlesey Hibberd with five wins under the burgee of the Indian Harbor Yacht Club, Allegra Knapp Mertz with four for American Yacht Club and Sylvia Shethar (Rusty) Everdell with four representing the American Yacht Club and one for the Duxbury Yacht Club. ‘Leggie’ Mertz also served many years on the Women’s Championship Committee as well as being President of the Blue Jay Association - a role that made her a linchpin for junior sailing.