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The Wisconsin Stern Steerers Association is a group of highly committed ice boaters dedicated to the promotion, restoration, and competition of stern-steerers, the grand ice yachts that ruled the ice until the advent of the single-pilot boats.

"The renaissance of the big boats, especially the big A Boats, is one of the best stories in our sport in recent years."
The Blade Runner

WSSA DUES W.S.S.A. dues are $20.00 and can be mailed to Andy Gratton at the following address:

WSSA c/o
Andy Gratton Secretary/Treasurer 2102 Doty St.
Oshkosh, WI 54902

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About all that was determined today at the opening day of the Hearst - Stuart A - Boat regatta was that the 'big boats' are indeed big. Some bigger than others in fact.

Several of the remaining active Class A ice yachts gathered on Lake Geneva for the first Hearst - Stuart regatta of the millennium. It is the first such regatta in over thirty years.

Skeeter Ice Boat Club's Buddy Melges, sailing the A - boat 'Ferdinand the Bull', was set to defend both trophies against an impressive group of challengers. However, Mother Nature refused to co-operate. 

Morning fog finally gave way to a gentle breeze, but while the wind was enough to clear the fog, it never generated to decent boat moving proportions. About all the behemoths of the sport could manage were a few beam runs across the frozen surface.

It was, however, a nice day to be out on the ice. Temperatures in the thirties brought out a large contingent of spectators and ice yachting personalities to view the proceedings. 

Melges' yacht, the 'Bull', appeared to be the boat that moved the easiest in the light air. Sporting brand new, vertically cut, Mylar - like sails, (main and jib), Buddy was able to beam almost effortlessly and at one point was able to get up-wind and down-wind. But that wind didn't last.

Fred Stritt's 'Fritz', along with Dave Lallier's yacht were also able to beam fairly easily.

The biggest big boat, the' Deuce'', owned and sailed by Rick Henning of Racine, WI, struggled in the light breeze, despite a late day runner change. The 'Deuce' was only able to get moving with the help of an ATV. Sailing out of Lake Geneva, the 'Deuce' is the largest ice yacht still active in the world today. Even the other A's looked small when they parked next to it. It was easy to see that the 'Deuce' would require much more wind if it were to mount a serious challenge to the Melges yacht, the 'Bull'.

Henning's boat did however draw the most oohh's and ahh's from the gathered crowd. It is truly a beautifully restored yacht. Much of the new hardware she sported is made from light-weight titanium, prompting one to wonder at what point do you start worrying about weight saving on what is obviously a very heavy iceboat. 

Lake Geneva's 'Taku' owned by Bill Bentsen was able to work through a early in the day mast problem but also struggled in the light air. 

A couple of older, gaff-rigged A boats rounded out the challengers field. With a storm set to pass through the area tonight, everyone is hoping that the precipitation will be in the form of rain or even freezing rain so as to allow the competition to get underway tomorrow.

In another note of interest, Madison Skeeter pilot, Bob Kau, was seen taking the helm of the 'Fritz' in a late afternoon bid to get a little stern-steerer seat time.

Ice conditions on Lake Geneva are 7 to 8 inches of good ice with 1 - 2 inches of slushy snow on top. Larger drifts were reported further out on the lake.

Lake Geneva could possibly call on the Northwest Regatta for next week depending on the next few days weather. Hope to have a report of actual racing action tomorrow.

Submitted by roving
Blade Runner reporter Greg Whitehorse. 

The Defender of the Hearst Trophy:
Buddy Melges and Ferdinand the Bull

The Challengers: Fred Stritt and the Fritz

Rick Hennig and the Deuce

Bill Bentsen and Taku

Jan 20, 2001 The Fritz Tips Over

The Fritz was back in action the following weekend after Bill Mattison repaired her runner plank.

Stuart Trophy
Written c. 1940

Presented by FA Stuart, of Marshall, Michigan in 1903 as emblematic of the World's Championship in ice yachting, the Stuart International Trophy is probably the most highly coveted trophy in ice yachting today.

Competition for the trophy is limited to yachts carrying less than 850 square feet of sail, who are bona-fide members of any recognized ice yacht club in the United States and Canada.

The trophy was won for the first time by the WOLVERINE, an immense yacht, sporting 800 feet of sail, in 1904, and she apparently had no trouble in retaining it until DEBUTANTE III, owned by Douglas Van Dyke of Milwaukee, and sailed by the Oshkosh veteran, John Buckstaff, [who] wrested it from her in 1920.

DEBUTANTE III was built in 1914 for the purpose of winning the Stuart Trophy, but the World War intervened, and it wasn't until 1920 that she could be taken to Kalamazoo for the challenge.

DEBUTANTE III successfully defeated all challengers, being assisted in some of the races by FLYING DUTCHMAN, DONNIE D, MISS JANE II, and others; the defending and challenging clubs each being allowed two entries, until 1934, when the FRITZ of Madison, assisted by MISS ALICE, succeeded in taking the trophy.

The FRITZ successfully defended the trophy in 1935, but in 1936, FLYING DUTCHMAN, sailed by John Buckstaff, and CRAZY-CRAFT, sailed by Ray Schroeder, brought the trophy back to Oshkosh, Buckstaff winning two heats, and Schroeder one. This was the first time a boat as small as the CRAZY-CRAFT had won a heat in STUART Trophy racing, having only 175 square feet of sail against FRITZ'S 350 and the DUTCHMAN'S 450. 

In 1938, Joe Lodge of Detroit, brought his 750 square foot DEUCE III to Oshkosh, and won the trophy in three races; the defenders being FLYING DUTCHMAN and CRAZY-CRAFT.

The following year, in 1939, saw John Buckstaff in Detroit with a very much rebuilt DEBUTANTE III. Her backbone lengthened from 46 to 51 feet, a new runner plank 5 feet longer than the original, and a streamlined controlled-pivot mast that towered 50 feet off the ice, supporting 750 square feet of sail in a modern Marconi rig in place of the old gaff-rigged mainsail.

After losing the first two races to DEUCE III, and suffering a breakdown in the first race due to rough ice, Buckstaff skipped DEBUTANTE III home first in the next three straight races to bring the trophy back to Oshkosh.

The Lake St. Clair Club, Detroit, of which Joe Lodge is a member, has issued a challenge for the trophy, as soon as ice conditions at Oshkosh are suitable.

The name of the challenger has not been announced, but that DEBUTANTE III will be one of the defenders is a certainty. 

The Hearst
Written c. 1940
The HEARST International Trophy for ice yachts of not more than 450 square feet of sail area, has been held by the Oshkosh Ice Yacht Club at various times during its' history.

FLYING DUTCHMAN, owned by the Van Dykes of Milwaukee, was built for the purpose of winning the trophy in 1929, and was successful in taking it away from Joe Lodge's DEUCE II at Detroit that year.

She defended the trophy against all comers until 1932, when Henry Meyer's DORLA won it for the Pewaukee Club. J

ohn Buckstaff, who always sailed the FLYING DUTCHMAN in the Hearst contests, won it back from Pewaukee the following year, and held it until Fred Jungbluth's FRITZ, of Madison, with Carl Bernard at the tiller, won it in 1935.

FRITZ successfully defended the trophy until 1938, when Joe Lodge's DEUCE III took it back to Detroit, only to lose it to the FRITZ at Detroit in 1939.

At the present time (1940), the logical challenger for the 1940 contest is the Lake St. Clair Ice Yacht Club of Detroit and the races will probably be sailed at Madison.