Welcome to iceboat.org, the website of the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Summer is our off season here when we catch up on iceboat history, building, and sharing anything related to the sport. We hope to see you on the ice next December!
Today’s vintage postcards come from the Geneva Lake area with commentary from Skeeter Iceboat Club member, Jane Pegel. Thank you, Jane, for sharing your memories and providing historical context for these cards.
Chris Goes has confirmed the history of the boat.
The boat with the “P” on the sail is Pike. This is an open-back Walter Beauvais built “Beau” Skeeter that won the Northwest regatta, season 1934-35, with Harry Melges, Sr., as skipper. That regatta was at Gull Lake, MI. and was the first time that the Skeeters had their own division at the Northwest. In subsequent years, the Beau Skeeters had closed backs.
This photo, in front of Lake Lawn resort on Delavan Lake, was taken when the boat was owned by Cuppy Goes. Cuppy also raced a conventional cockpit A division Skeeter and was a Life Member of the Skeeter Ice Boat Club (an honorary status given to members who actively contributed to the Club for a number of years).
Cuppy was also a champion C scow sailor and former Commodore of the Lake Geneva Yacht Club. Cuppy’s oldest son, Chris, now owns Pike and sails it on Delavan Lake when conditions permit. Chris is a current member of the Skeeter Ice Boat Club, as are his three sons, Charlie, Eric, and Nels. Eric Goes sails a Nite. Chris also has a gaff rigged stern steerer to sail on Delavan. They all sail at the Delavan Lake YC in the summer and Eric sails Cuppy’s former C scow, also named Pike. The significance of the name Pike is that it was the nickname of Cuppy’s father. Generations of the Goes family power boats, sail boats, and ice boats have been named Pike. The next generation of Goes sailors is just beginning at the Delavan Lake Sailing School.
I-44 was John Clifford. A number of members of the Clifford family were members of the Club in the thirties and forties. each owning a boat. In Club minutes, I learned that the club was organized in March, 1933, as the Beau Skeeter Iceboat Club of Southern Wisconsin. A couple of years later, and for several meetings, changing the name was a topic discussed, with many motions that did not pass. Finally in December, 1938, the name of the club was changed to Skeeter Ice Boat Club.
Click here to see 3 more postcards.
Of particular interest is I-110, owned by Bill Parks. a former Commodore of the Skeeter IBC. Bill’s boat was a 20 ft. Mead that was modified. Bob Pegel was introduced to iceboating by Bill Parks, and everyone knows the rest of that saga. Gloria Wenzel was crewing for Bill in a Star class regatta in Chicago. This was Buddy Melges’ first Star regatta. That is how Bud and Gloria met, and everyone knows the rest of that saga. Bill Parks passed away a few years ago. He was an Olympic bronze medalist in the 1960 Rome Olympics, sailing in the Star Class. Bill was Commodore of Chicago Yacht Club and chairman of the Governing Committee of the International Star Class Yacht Racing Assn, and held a number of offices of distinction in the United States Yacht Racing Union and US Sailing.
In the photo with Bill Parks, I-7 is Harry Melges, Sr., Mickey Finn. I-51 is Don Krause’s boat. Don lived in Williams Bay and had a succesful excavating business. Don raced successfully and Buddy Melges also won some titles while sailing Don’s boat.
The Calamity Jane was a 20 ft. Mead that was upgraded with springboard, 21 ft, mast, and 17 ft. runner plank. in 1948 my father bought that boat for me from Don Campbell. The name of the boat was Holy Smoke and originally had a 13.5 ft. plank and 19 ft. mast. I was a high school student at the time. While competing in the 1956 ISA in Hamilton, the upgraded hull broke just aft of the springboard. The hull was scraped and the parts sold. The following season (1956-57) I began racing a DN. Sailed my last DN race on March 14, 2014.
These gaff riggers were before Jane’s time but are a reminder of when wealthy Chicagoans like the Wrigleys (of chewing gum fame) had ice yachts on Geneva Lake. A few years ago, a Stern Steerer from the Wrigley estate was purchased and restored by three men who sail her on White Bear Lake in Minnesota. Another old Wrigley Stern Steerer sails on the Hudson River. Read more about that on White Wings and Black Ice, truly the best website devoted to historic North American ice yachts around.
Let’s head west for the next set of vintage iceboat postcards. The most unusual of this series is the card from Middle Des Lacs Lake in Kenmare, North Dakota, 30 miles from the Canadian border as the crow flies. A long and narrow lake, Middle Des Lacs is only .5 mile wide by 2.5 miles long. The wind would have to be just right for a Stern Steerer sail on that lake!
Iowa has a well documented history of ice sailing. Traveling ten hours southeast from Kenmare, our next stop is Spirit Lake, Iowa, home of the Okoboji Yacht Club. Our Iowan tour continues two hours east of Spirit Lake to Clear Lake, Iowa home of the Clear Lake Yacht Club.
This postcard trip concludes on Wisconsin’s west coast (or Minnesota and Iowa’s east coast), Lake Pepin.
A new summer series begins today featuring the original “Short Message Service”, vintage postcards from around the world. Let’s start right here in the Four Lakes area of Madison, Wisconsin with these five postcards.
Bernard’s Fleet recalls the time when the Bernard family kept a rental fleet of Stern Steerers on Lake Mendota. “Princess” World International Racer was a famous Stern Steerer built by William Bernard for Emil Fauerbach (Peter Fauerbach’s great great uncle).
I’ll post more in the coming weeks. If you have any to share, please let me know.
The middle of July signals that we are halfway through the off-season and time for one of the most important soft water races of the summer season, the Chicago Yacht Club’s 109th Race to Mackinac. Follow the race tracking on the website.
Your ice sailing roster this year includes:
- DENALI (Turbo Division), owned by Rick Hennig of the DEUCE fame. Fellow iceboaters joining him on DENALI are Dave Elsmo, Todd Knop,and Eric Tobias.
- Via Renee Sherry: IMPORTANT UPDATE: due to technical difficulties, Equation will NOT be participating in the Chicago Mackinac regatta. Ron Sherry will be sailing on DYNAMIS.
EQUATION (Section 1), with Ron Sherry at the helm, son Griffin Sherry, and fellow Michigan DNer Chris Clark on board.
- BANDIT (Section 2), with DNer Chris Berger. BANDIT’S owners Arvid Eiesland and Joe Kestler have DNs, Arrows, and an old Palmer Skeeter.
- WINDSONG (Section 8) has DNer Andy Camarda on board.
- CHAYA DOIN (Cruising Division) has DNer Marci Grunert on board.
- GAUNTLET (Section 5) has DNer Gail McCarthy Turluck on board.
Drop me an email if I missed you and I’ll add you to the list. Good luck and safe sailing to all competitors.
The 4LIYC has a new DN sailor in the fleet. Over the weekend, Ron Rosten picked up a Meade Gougeon DN that won the 1997 North Americans from Ron Sherry for son, Thor. On his way back to Wisconsin, Ron also visited with Menekaunee ice sailors Mike Derusha and Ken Kreider. Thor is sporting the latest Menekaunee baseball cap.
John Dennis’ A class Skeeter in the red, white, and blue livery helps us celebrate July 4th and is a reminder that the summer is at its halfway point.
Mike Derusha provides the fireworks!
July’s iceboating calendar usually features the ice sailors who are competing in the historic Chicago to Mackinac sail boat race. That post is on the horizon and if you are competing in it, let me know the details so that I can add you to the list.
Don Anderson, a Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club Renegader and also responsible for bringing the MARY B Stern Steerer back to Madison, is competing in the Long Beach to Honolulu ocean race, Transpac. The Transpac ocean race is “the longest of the two oldest ocean races in the world…. first sailed in 1906.”
Sailing builds long lasting friendships. 4LIYC Renegaders Jack Ripp and Jerry Simon have known each other for over 60 years. Jerry bought his first Skeeter from Jack back in 1957. Jerry’s first Skeeter was the second Skeeter that Jack built. Jerry explains:
[The] picture is me in my first Skeeter I purchased from Jack. It was Jack’s second skeeter as the first had a deck mounted tiller for steering as seen in the picture [from the 1952 Northwest]. Mine only had a steering wheel mounted under the deck. My first modification was to put in foot peddles, which didn’t work very well.
What is interesting is the sail number on my purchased boat was M8, which is the rig on Jack’s first tillered Skeeter photo [from the 1952 Northwest]. The picture of me standing next to my Par-a-dice boat with the sail number
M14 is off of Jack’s third Skeeter. I purchased it later and took off the number 9 from is famous M149 number.
During this time period skeeters changed every year so lots of cheap used gear available.
As we watch the America’s Cup in Bermuda, ice and land sailors instinctively understand the forces that allow the AC boats to reach speeds of over 40 knots because apparent wind is also what makes ice and land yachts sail much faster than a “traditional” sailboat. This video is the best visual explanation of apparent wind I’ve ever seen.
Artemis Racing Team Manager and tactician Iain Percy explains the concept of apparent wind, and how it allows America’s Cup Class yachts to travel at 3 times the wind speed. In basic terms, speed = more speed. Watch and learn
UPDATE 7-3-2017: Read about Bill on the National Sailing Hall of Fame’s inductee webpage here.
A big congratulations are in order for Bill Bentsen who sails with the Skeeter Ice Boat Club.. Jane Pegel writes:
I learned this morning (June 19) that in September Bill Bentsen will be inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame.
- Bill is a member of the Skeeter Ice Boat Club and the Lake Geneva Yacht Club.
- Bill is a former Northwest champion in the DN class.
- Bill served as DN class secretary in the 1960’s.
- Bill owned and sailed the class A stern steerer, TAKU and subsequently transferred ownership to Erich Schloemer.
- He won an Olympic gold medal in the Soling class and a bronze medal in the Flying Dutchman class.
He previously was awarded the Beppie Croce Trophy for his service to what is now called World Sailing. (previously IYRU and ISAF)
- Bill successfully raced C, E, and A class scows at the Lake Geneva Yacht Club.