PRINCESS II postcard with her namesake added, actress Margaret Sylvia. Postcard from the William & Carl Bernard Collection.
The internet tells me that the ancient Greeks get credit for the tradition of boat-naming, a custom that iceboat builders continued. Growing up iceboating, all Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club classes carried names, even DNs. (In present times, the Estonians seem to be the only DN fleet that consistently attaches a name to a boat.)
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Madison’s Fuller opera house hosted the latest touring plays and operas of the day. One actress made such an impression on Emil Fauerbach that he named his grand William Bernard-built ice yachts after her. All three of Fauerbach’s PRINCESS boats owe their name after Margaret Sylvia, who starred in the comic opera Princess Chic.
We don’t know if Ms. Sylvia ever knew the local fame bestowed upon her or that her namesake won several prestigious regatta titles, including the Hearst. Who knows, maybe one of the reasons William Randolph Hearst, who was well known for his admiration of actresses, donated the Hearst trophy was because Ms. Sylvia told him that a Madisonian had named his iceboat in her honor.
“The PRINCESS is named for Margaret Sylvia who stars in the Princess Chic and has played at the Fuller opera house. This is the second Madison ice yacht to be named in honor of an actress, the first one being the MAY BRETTON, owned by the Spooner Brothers.” Wisconsin State Journal, October 30, 1903
On March 16, 1914, Madisonians Emil Fauerbach and William Bernard brought the Hearst Trophy to Madison, one of the most sought after titles in ice yacht racing.
UPDATE 3-18: The original photo that was posted was incorrect. See more below.
Previous: Throw Back Thursday, Meet Emil Fauerbach
Emil Fauerbach, born 1870, grew up on Lake Monona near his family’s brewery and was obsessed with the beautiful ice yachts he saw flying around the lake, considered the fastest vehicles in the world at the time. One mile away from the brewery on the other side of Madison’s isthmus, William Bernard was born the same year and grew up immersed in his father’s boat livery on Lake Mendota, where he fulfilled his dream of building and designing iceboats.
Fauerbach and Bernard joined forces and chased one of the most prestigious ice yacht racing titles, the Hearst trophy. Newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst donated a gold-lined silver cup at the behest of the Kalamazoo Ice Yacht Club in Michigan in 1903. Emil’s idea was to challenge for the prestigious Hearst trophy, but in 1904 Emil sailing a Bernard-built boat, returned to Madison from Gull Lake, Michigan, without the title.
Fauerbach and Bernard’s obsession with the Hearst resulted in a new ice yacht explicitly designed to win the coveted cup. Bernard completed Princess II for Fauerbach in January of 1906. Princess II carried 426 square feet of sail, weighed 1500 pounds, and made of the finest white oak and spruce. Between 1904 and 1914, the two determined men traveled six times to Gull Lake, Michigan, trying to win the Hearst. Fauerbach was considered Madison’s “Sir Thomas Lipton,” after the British millionaire yachtsman famous for his five unsuccessful bids to win the America’s Cup.
1914: The Hearst Cup Finally Comes to Madison
PRINCESS II won the Northwest regatta Class A championship in 1914. Shortly after the win, Emil Fauerbach, PRINCESS II, and his crew of Andy Flom, William Bernard, and Hiram Nelson took the train to Michigan.
Fauerbach’s resolve to capture the Hearst for Madison was so great that he put aside his ego and stayed off the boat, turning over control to superior sailor Andy Flom. On March 16, 1914, Emil watched from the finish line as Flom, Nelson, and Bernard finally wrested the Hearst away from the Kalamazoo Ice Yacht Club. They were bringing the elegant trophy to Madison.
When the news of the victory reached Madison, the citizens were ecstatic. Henry Fauerbach, interviewed at Chicago’s Illinois Athletic Club, declared that his brother’s victory would be a good motivation for ice-yacht racing throughout the whole Northwest. In an understatement, Mendota Yacht Club Commodore Lew Porter told the Wisconsin State Journal, “it is possible that the Mendota Yacht Club will hold some sort of jollification as a result of the victory of the PRINCESS II.” The paper went on to write, “PRINCESS II, sailing the colors of the Mendota Yacht Club, has won for Madison the highest honors in this year’s leading American ice yacht regatta…Madison is particularly gratified at the splendid success of Emil Fauerbach’s iceboat because the game Badger skipper has tried several times to lift the cup.” Fauerbach’s win put Madison on the map as an iceboating community.
Sadly, Emil Fauerbach had only a short time to revel in the Hearst trophy’s prestige and honors. Fifteen months after he won the Hearst, Madisonians read the shocking news that their most famous ice yachtsman had passed away. Emil Fauerbach died on May 22, 1915, at 45, from complications of a stomach operation.
Misidentified as “Emil Fauerbach and possibly Andy Flom on PRINCESS I in front of Fauerbach Brewery on Lake Monona, Madison, WI, c.1905. Courtesy of Byron Tetzlaff.” Erich Schloemer pointed out that this boat isn’t a Madison-style boat as all PRINCESS boats were, but instead could be a John Buckstaff-built boat, possibly DEBUTANTE B. Stay tuned for more.
The 4LIYC and Mendota Yacht Club have been actively promoting wooden boats in Madison since the late 1800s.
Another summer milestone is here, meaning we are nearer to December’s hope for ice.
Glacier Lakes Chapter
The Madison Area Antique & Classic Boat Cruise
August 3rd and August 4th 2018
Stop over to the Edgewater Hotel tomorrow (Friday, August 3) around the noon hour for a look at some of these wooden beauties. Our Commodore Don Anderson will be there with a couple of his classics. Instead of a static boat show on Saturday, the group will cruise around Lakes Waubesa and Monona. 4LIYC Renegader Andy McCormick is one of the program directors for the Glacier Lakes Chapter. More information at the link above.
The photo above from 1914 is posted on the Wisconsin State Historical Society website.
“Elevated view of the Wisconsin State Capitol building, showing steel work of North Wing under construction. Crowds of people are gathered on the lawn for the Fall Festival. More people are gathered on the roof of the Capitol building just below the dome. Two boats are on display in the foreground near a sign that reads: “Mendota Yacht Club ‘Boost Madison Lakes.'” The iceboat on the right is the Princess II and the sailboat on the left is the Neireid. The Neireid was owned by Henry Fauerbach (an uncle of our own Peter Fauerbach) and Lew Porter.”