We’ve reached Peak Sun today. For those who Think Ice, it’s all uphill from today, the Summer Solstice. The sun will shine 8 seconds less here in Madison tomorrow, on June 22, and continue the march towards the shorter ice-making days. There are only five months before the first weekend in December, the traditional beginning of the Minnesota ice sailing season.
I can find no newspaper accounts or photos from the 1948 International Skeeter Association regatta, but this 30 second YouTube clip makes up for the lack of pictures. Sailed on Fox Lake in Illinois, Elmer Millenbach won in RENEGADE II, described as a “magic” boat. The Renegade class competed as Class A Skeeters in the ISA regatta until 1950 when they first sailed their own championship.
Tip of the Helmet: John Eisenlohr
From “The Renegade Story.”
The non-profit association formed was to not sell plans, but to include them with first years membership dues. The first year, besides scattered memberships all over the sailing area, fleets were building in Toronto, Toledo, and Detroit. At a Detroit regatta, of 42 boats on the starting line, 22 were Renegades. My boat still did most of the winning and in our fleet we tried switching boats in “scrub races”. Whomever sailed my boat won. This seemed to impart some sort of message to some people even though I was handicapped trying to sail someone else’s boat that was set up for someone 6″ sorter than I. Less than subtle suggestions were made that I should build a new boat (according to the plans drawn up) to eliminate any “magic” inherent in Renegade II. This was of course a challenge I couldn’t refuse. I sold Renegade II at the end of the 1949 season.”
Is there a better way to cool off on a sweltering summer day than by streaming a film about iceboating? Strap on your virtual helmet and creepers and watch Mary B, Madison’s Legendary Iceboat on demand, or order the DVD. Details here.
The 43-minute documentary film, produced by Donald P. Sanford, Gretta Wing Miller and Aarick Beher for the Ice Boat Foundation, Inc., tells the story of this Madison icon, the men who built and raced her and the efforts of the Foundation to restore and preserve her. It uses recently restored archival footage and interviews with sailors and Foundation members.
The DVD and the download include these special features:
- The Stuart Cup
- The Hearst Cup
- On the Ice with Mr. Wright
Jack Ripp Archives
In 1999, Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club member Greg Whitehorse sat down with ice sailing champion Jack Ripp (1928-2019) and discussed Jack’s involvement in ice sailing. The interview originally ran in the club newsletter, Blade Runner. We are fortunate that Greg saved the cassette tape. Jack’s son, Mike, converted it to an electronic format and I added photos and some classic 1960s 8mm film from Bob Clemens.
Previous: “Getting Framed”
Pat Heppert checks in with a note about his summer project, a new C Skeeter build and his continuing travails with “ACME” customer service.
Wide Hull Somewhat Explained, Still Confused
The next shipment arrived from ACME Iceboats Inc., and now it is clear why the frames for the new hull are so messed up looking. The mainsheet assembly actually is about a foot and a half wide. But it seems to have three ropes instead of just one and definitely doesn’t seem to belong on an iceboat. May have been a shipping error. So I got on the phone with customer service again, and they insist that this is what I ordered. How exactly do you expect me to deal with three ropes in the cockpit? “Well, sir, the problem is that you failed to also order our rope-less cockpit conversion upgrade”. They didn’t have pictures of this in the catalog; apparently, it is still under development and doesn’t come with a warranty. Again with the credit card, will see what shows up. But what are all three of these ropes for? “Sir, you need to pull on one of them for more power and pull on the other one for more speed.” That explains two of them, but then I asked what is the third one for? “You pull really hard on that one when you want to beat Daniel Hearn.”
Buddy Melges Archives
An ice sailor who lives just down the road from Four Lakes and has sailed Geneva Lake on every iceboat imaginable is the subject of a documentary still in production. You may have heard of him, Buddy Melges, the Wizard of Zenda, Olympic Gold medalist, America’s Cup Winner, not to mention the iceboating titles he’s won. Watch for this film in 2022.
Documentary website and trailer here.
Legends of American Sailing
Harry “Buddy” Clemens Melges II
By Gary Jobson Former America’s Cup champion & ESPN sailing analyst
There are many great sailors around America, and some of them have extraordinary skills and achieved great performances on the water over many years. When I made the list of legendary sailors for this book there was one name that stood out above the others, Buddy Melges. Ask any top sailor who is America’s best, and Buddy will always be mentioned. His Gold Medal championship in the 1972 Olympics Games and winning the 1992 America’s Cup as a helmsman is just part of the long story of this gifted, gracious, helpful and productive American sailing hero. Buddy started out working for his father building Scows in Zenda, Wisconsin. He always joked, “Zenda is not the end of the world, but you could see it from there.” Zenda is an unincorporated village in the Town of Linn and the home of Melges Boat Works. Buddy and his wife, Gloria live a few miles north in Fontana on a hill overlooking Lake Geneva. One has to wonder, how does someone become as skilled in their sport as Buddy Melges?
Elmer Millenbach Interview Part 1
Elmer Millenbach Interview Part 2
Elmer Millenbach Archives
Here’s the final installation of the Elmer Millenbach interview with historic video footage of Elmer winning a race on Lake St. Clair in the 1940s. Elmer’s wife, Cora Lee, also makes an appearance in the audio track. Cora Lee was vital in building the Renegade fleet, serving as Renegade class Secretary for many years. She also worked race committee at iceboat regattas.
After all these years, the internet continues to deliver. I stumbled across this new-to-me comic book, published in 1946, in the Smithsonian’s online database. You can read the whole nine pages of this iceboating saga featuring the heroic Dick, his gal Laura, and the jealous Stinky on Comic Book Plus.
Elmer Millenbach Archives
Detroit’s Elmer Millenbach (1912-1996), the creator of the Renegade iceboat, was arguably one of the most influential men in North American iceboat development. The boom of Ontario, Canada’s Class A Skeeter sailor Rob Intini carried the message “We All Play Elmer’s Tune” as a reminder.
Greg Whitehorse recently dropped off an interview with Elmer on a cassette tape recorded in 1989 by the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut. Over an hour-long, I edited the interview into different parts for the listener’s convenience and added a slide show.
In part one, Elmer recalls the beginning days of the DN and his frustration that he “…couldn’t find out what a DN was,” inspiring him to develop new ways of designing iceboat components such as runners. He knew there would soon be competition from the new front steering boats to see who could go the fastest. “You get enough kiddie cars together, and pretty soon, there’s a race.”