Peter J. Fisher Memorial Trophy

During the 1983 Port Huron to Mackinac Singlehanded Challenge Peter Fisher died of a heart attack. The Fisher family in his memory commissioned an artist to design and cast a likeness of his boat Pelican, and created this award. First awarded in 1984 it has come to represent the pinnacle of achievement for Great Lakes singlehanded sailors.

The GLSS Board of Directors follow pre-determined selection criteria, which is based on years of participation as well as competitive standing. These two elements account for the basis, continuation and spirit of this Great Lakes challenge.

Recipients and Trophy Details
Text of the 1998 Award Presentation

President’s Challenge Cups


The Great Lakes Singlehanded Society hereby creates the President’s Challenge Cups. These trophies are intended to recognize the outstanding effort of a skipper completing his or her first Solo Challenge.  Separate trophies will be awarded to the first time finisher with the fastest corrected time in both the Port Huron and Chicago to Mackinac Solo Challenges, the Sault Ste. Marie to Duluth Solo Challenge, the Lake Erie Solo Challenge, or the Lake Ontario 300 Solo Challenge.  These awards are intended to increase the number of first time skippers in any of the Membership-granting Solo Challenges.


The President’s Challenge Cup shall be awarded to a first time skipper in the Port Huron to Mackinac Solo Challenge, Chicago to Mackinac Solo Challenge, Sault Ste. Marie to Duluth Solo Challenge, the Lake Erie Solo Challenge, or the Lake Ontario 300 Solo Challenge with the fastest corrected time in a monohull boat. The winning skippers will have been certified by the Board of Directors to have completed the Port Huron or Chicago  to Mackinac Island Singlehanded Challenge, the Sault Ste. Marie to Duluth Singlehanded Challenge, the Lake Erie Solo Challenge, or the Lake Ontario 300 Solo Challenge within the rules set forth by the Race Committee. Once a skipper has completed a Singlehanded Challenge and has been granted membership in the Society, he or she is no longer eligible to receive a President’s Challenge Cup on any other lake.

The Trophies

The trophies will be engraved with the name of the recipient and year of the award. They shall be kept on display at the Great Lakes Yacht club of the winning skipper. The Yacht Club or skipper must guarantee the return of the award prior to the annual awards ceremony on Mackinac Island the following year, to Duluth following the completion of the subsequent Trans Superior Solo, to Erie, PA for the Lake Erie Solo Challenge awards ceremony, or to the Lake Ontario 300 Race Committee. The trophies will remain the property of the Great Lakes Singlehanded Society and their display is solely at the direction and within the control of its Board of Directors. The trophies shall only be removed from their places of display for the purposes of engraving, cleaning, and presentation at an award function. At the discretion of the governing body, recipients may receive a small keeper trophy.

Governing body

The ownership and governing body of the trophies shall be the Board of Directors of the Great Lakes Singlehanded Society who alone, based upon a popular vote, may select recipients and who alone, based upon a two thirds majority, may amend this Deed of Gift.

President’s Challenge Cups – Details & Recipients 

Mike Silverthorne Memorial Trophy

Lake Michigan solo sailors are fond of saying that “It takes a pair to do it alone.” More often than not, Mike, known to his close friends as “Laughing Gull” found himself half of the pair; he was constantly assisting his fellow singlehanders whenever and wherever it was needed. In 2002, our good friend and veteran singlehander died while competing in the Lake Michigan Solo Scramble. The following year, the Mike Silverthorne Memorial Trophy was created to honor Mike’s memory.  It is awarded to the skipper who best embodies the exemplary spirit of Mike Silverthorne and Solo Sailing. As such, it is only presented upon by a committee of past Mike Silverthorn Trophy recipients’ recommendation after consideration of the candidate’s significant contribution and merits.

Trophy Details and the Recipients of the Mike Silverthorne Memorial Trophy 

Ralph Eilberg Award for Outstanding Seamanship

Ralph Eilberg was one of the Founding Fathers, Charter Member, and past President of the GLSS. Ralph attended Penn State University, and completed his Ph.D. studies there. While at Penn State, Ralph was ranked as one of the top ten U.S. collegiate marathon runners. After college, Ralph continued to run – on his 50th birthday, he became an ultra marathon runner by virtue of completing an 80 mile run! Ralph was a professor of BioChemistry at the University of Detroit Dental School, and in addition to being a valued member of the staff, held various patents on biochemical items related to dentistry. Sailing was one of Ralph’s greatest loves, and he sailed extensively including a Bermuda roundtrip prior to moving to Michigan. After bringing his boat through the Erie Canal into the Great Lakes, Ralph could be found cruising the lakes every summer, and was a full time liveaboard on his boat in Gibralter, Michigan. In addition to being one of the Founding Fathers of the Society, Ralph established the Port Huron to Chicago Solo Challenge in 1981. Ralph completed the inaugural Challenge that year, and to this date, it is the second longest freshwater solo sailing venue in the world (only the Super Mac and Back is longer). Tragically, Ralph was involved in an automobile accident in 1984 and was nearly killed. He was left incapacitated as a result of the accident and was unable to sail thereafter. In 1985, the Ralph Eilberg Award was established, largely through the efforts of GLSS member Phil LePage. One of Ralph’s friends, Ralph Ridge, funded the construction of the trophy, and it was hand-built by Phil. The trophy is awarded only to those skippers who have demonstrated remarkable feats of seamanship upon the high seas world wide.

Trophy Details and Recipients of the Ralph Eilberg Award

Commodore Perry Award


The Commodore Perry Award is awarded to an individual(s), a group, an organization, etc. who has made a substantial contribution to the Lake Erie Solo Challenge (LESC). The following guidelines should guide the LESC Race Committee in determining who, if anyone, will receive the award in any given year:

  • The decision to confer, or not confer, the award will be made by the LESC Race Committee each year,
  • The recipient(s) may display it for a period of one year in a manner consistent with the stature it represents, and agrees to return it to the next year’s Race Committee,
  • The recipient(s) may, or may not, be a GLSS member(s),
  • It may be awarded for on-the-water sailing performance or for other significant, non-Challenge related contributions to the LESC.

Trophy Details and Recipients of the Commodore Perry Award

Founders’ Award

The Founders’ Award goes to those who give of themselves for the betterment of the GLSS through their efforts in any of the following areas: Education and Development of solos sailing skills, promotion of the society, serving on race committees, organization of challenges and events. Ken Verhearen led the effort to create this award and Brent Hughes is the first recipient. Brent has done an outstanding job of promoting our society on Lake Ontario.

Mac Challenge Chairman’s Award

The Mac Challenge Chairman’s Award was created to recognize those skippers who have completed either 15 or 25 Solo Mac Challenges. As the Society has grown, skippers now have the opportunity to compete in multiple events each year – this award reflects the commitment shown to participate in the Macs over a significant period of time. This award was established in 2006.

Trophy Details and Recipients of the Mac Challenge Chairman’s Award