Greg Whitehorse was the editor, writer, and head honcho of the 4LIYC newsletter, The Blade Runner. Here’s his story written in 2002 about one of this club’s most famous races, the Bloody Mary Eye Opener. Some of the sailors Greg wrote about in 2002 have passed on and this story is a good way to remember them.
The 1980 Bloody Mary Eye Opener
Krueger Kops Kegonsa Klassic
By Greg Whitehorse
Twenty years ago that headline jumped from the pages of the ISA News & Views Sailing Issue with alliterate enthusiasm.
Written in the style of the articles he had read in the auto racing tabloid, National Speed Sport News, it was Greg Whitehorse’s account of the 1980 New Years Day Bloody Mary Eye Opener race.
In the days leading up to that race the 4LIYC members had to be wondering whether they would be able to get on the ice at all.
“It’s been a bazaar weather year.’ noted 4LIYC News & Views correspondent Mark Langenfeld that year. ‘A warm and snowless December, we finally got on the ice the weekend of the 29th and 30th”, he goes on to report.
Indeed, temperatures in the mid- forties, and ice that had only recently formed, had a few nervous skippers wondering just how much ice was separating them from a cold dip in Lake Kegonsa.
But there really wasn’t much to worry about as most of that weekend was spent at the Sunnyside’s bar, (acquiring a ‘healthy glow according to Langenfeld’s account.) High pressure dominated southern Wisconsin that weekend and the only race contested was a Skeeter Tune-Up Series race.
Bill Mattison came from one lap down in the light and shifty wind to surprise defending ISA Champion Paul Krueger and notch the weekend’s only event
By Tuesday, New Years Day, anxious 4LIYC skippers were hoisting sails under thickening gray skies that were in stark contrast to the bright sunshine of the previous weekend. Still the wind remained light and variable.
The New Years Day Bloody Mary Eye Opener was first sailed in 1976. The idea, no doubt hatched at Sunnyside’s bar after a long day of no sailing, was to make a “huge” trophy and then race for it at a time when the “big dogs” (re: Krueger and Mattison) wouldn’t show up to run for it
New Year’s morning was a time traditionally spent trying to sleep in, searching for aspirin, or, at best, wailing for a football game to come on TV, (although Bucky never played on New Years Day back in those days.)
In other words it was the perfect time for a grueling ten lap iceboat race! A great cure for whatever ails you on the first day of the new year. The ultimate ‘hair of the dog’!
But the plan went awry from the get go. The first two sails up on the morning of the initial “Bloody Mary” had the numbers 134 and 165 on them, Mattison and Krueger.
So much for trying to sneak one in. Four years later the “‘Bloody Mary” was an established tradition of the 4LIYC.
It has been rumored over the years that on occasion over-zealous revelers of the previous evening went as far to leave the last party late into the night then head on down to the Sunnyside and sleep in their boats so as not to miss the early A.M. start.
According to the News & Views account at precisely 10:00 AM., “a good field of Skeeters, Renegades, and Nites took Chief Judge Jim Payton’s starting flag” for the ‘Bloody Mary’ Open.
The wind was starting to pick up and everyone was anticipating a fast race.
Paul Krueger, in his yacht ‘Rambl’n’, led the first two laps in convincing fashion. The defending World Champion would be tough to beat unless conditions dramatically changed. They would.
P.K had some stiff competition behind him, Dave Nelson in ‘Sunnyside Up’, and Greg Whitehorse sailing ‘Challenger III’ closely chased him across the line early in the race.
Further back in the pack, Bill Mattison, Gary Sternberg, Vic Whitehorse, Greg Fauerbach, Walter Whitehorse, AJ Moldenhauer, Gary Whitehorse, and sailing their Renegades, Jack Ripp and Jerry Simon, all baffled for position.
Apparently the Nites had already had enough fun and retired from the race.
On lap three the wind suddenly started to drop. Soon a few of the skippers could be seen climbing out of their boats to push.
Again, citing the News & Views article, “the wily veteran, Bill Mattson, sailing the famous ‘Honeybucket VI’ found what little air was blowing to move up from sixth place on the second lap to lead the third and fourth laps.”
But ‘Ma Nature’ wasn’t through playing games, the wind picked up again and Krueger was able to push past Mattison into the lead once more on the fifth go-around.
The big mover at the half-way point was Gary Whitehorse. Expertly piloting ‘Enterprise IV, Gary came from far back in the field to second place, dropping Mattison to third.
Behind the lead boats the battles raged for position. The yachts which were set up expecting light air would gain four or five spots when the wind dropped only to get re-passed by the heavy-air boats when the wind again picked up.
On the eighth lap Paul Krueger and Gary Whitehorse were seen waging a fierce runner to runner battle for the lead. When the two boats came down to finish the ninth lap, Whitehorse’s red and silver Skeeter had forged ahead of Krueger’s red and white yacht, to complete his frenzied charge from deep in the pack. Gary Whitehorse, in ‘Enterprise IV appeared to be heading to his first Eye Opener victory.
‘Lady Luck wasn’t riding with Gary, for when he headed to the windward mark on the final lap, the wind again died down. Paul Krueger found a breath of air and dived for the mark ahead of the ‘Enterprise’ to regain the lead.’
Although Whitehorse tried everything he could, Krueger was able to keep ‘Rambl’n’ out front for the final downwind leg of the race. It was P.K.’s second Bloody Mary Eye Opener victory in four years.
Following Paul and Gary across the line were Bill Mattison, in third, Dave Nelson, fourth, and Greg Whitehorse, fifth.
It was one of the greatest iceboat races in club history.
But the day wasn’t over yet. News & Views writers Greg Whitehorse and Mark Langenfeld go on to report of a “secret” DN race won by AJ. Whitehorse over a large field of yachts. And also of a pot-luck luncheon arranged by the 4LIYC Ladies Auxiliary, (great food, good beer, and iceboat movies.) There was mention of a card and bottle, apricot wine, no doubt being presented to Art Jark to mark his recent retirement And, a card and cake presented to Bill McCormick to help celebrate his recent birthday.
Then it was back on the ice for a afternoon of Holiday Series racing.
Bill Mattison edged Paul Krueger and Gary Sternberg in the first afternoon Skeeter race.
With sixteen(!) DN’s on the line, ‘young’ Andy McCormick defeated Peter McCormick and AJ. Whitehorse in an exiting race.
In the day’s final race, with winds diminishing, Paul Krueger was again able to edge Gary Whitehorse for the victory. The surprising third place finisher was Vic Whitehorse sailing in his first day of Skeeter competition. Dave Nelson was fourth.
Twenty years ……. Although a lot can change in twenty years, perhaps more amazing is how much can remain the same.
Paul Krueger, winner of the 1980 Bloody Mary, continues to race a version of ‘Rambl’n’, (albeit several generations removed from that years yacht), in club races and the national regatta scene. He is a member of the exclusive 4LIYC Honor Roll, and a threat to win any race he enters.
Gary Whitehorse also continues on in the Skeeter fleet, hoping that recent upgrades to his yacht ‘Wild Horses’, can propel him back to the front of the pack.
Legendary Madison ice boater and Honor Roll member, Bill Mattison, recently named by this publication as the Greatest lce Boater of the 20th Century, is still a major force in Skeeter racing amid rumors of, a) his retirement from the sport is eminent or, b) a new ‘Honeybucket’ is already on the drawing board, to be built for the 2001 campaign. (I’d put my money on b).
Many others in that race, and on the ice that day, still compete in the sport as well. Fourth place finisher, Dave Nelson, remains active, although now in the Renegade fleet. Dave, who was seriously injured in a iceboating accident several years ago, was recently the first ice boater, in the 4LIYC area, of the new millennium. Dave is also a member of the 4LIYC Honor Roll.
Like Nelson, Greg Whitehorse, fifth place in the 1980 Bloody Mary, has switched to the Renegades, and is now (hopefully) climbing toward being a regatta contender in that class. Greg is also the editor of the club’s newsletter, The Blade Runner.
Gary Sternberg is yet another convert to the Renegade fleet. He is also the current Commodore of the International Renegade Ice Yacht Association. The past few years has seen Sternberg contend for regatta championships, indeed, winning one seems to be only a matter of time.
Vic Whitehorse, younger brother of Gary and Greg, older brother of AJ, was never really bitten by the iceboating bug. Despite winning 4LIYC DN races, and his promising start that day in the Skeeter class, Vic eventually drifted away from the sport
Greg Fauerbach campaigned his old, ex-Charlie Johnson Skeeter, on and off for several more seasons. He would most likely show up when the club was sailing on Lake Kegonsa. However, he has not been seen iceboating for nearly a decade.
Another of the Whitehorse clan, Walter, brother of Harry, uncle of Gary, Greg, Vic, And A.J., and father of Ken, eventually retired from Skeeter competition and his yacht ‘Fast Buck’, remains parked in his equipment shed to this day.
AJ Moldenhauer, race car driver turned iceboat skipper, claimed for several years he didn’t know how Ken Whitehorse ever talked him into ice boating to begin with. Al sailed for a couple years before selling his Skeeter, ‘Slap Shot’, to Ken Kreider.
Another 4LIYC legend, and Honor Roll member, Jack Ripp, continues as a top notch Renegade pilot. He has won all the major Renegade regattas, just as he won all the major Skeeter regattas before he switched fleets in the mid-sixties.
Jerry Simon, who, like Ripp, was sailing a Renegade that day against the Skeeters, was also a regatta champion. Jerry continues to do battle with his yacht ‘Simonized’ in club and regatta events.
‘Young’ Andy McCormick eventually became the boat to beat in local DN racing. He now sails a Renegade in club and regatta competition. Andy is a good sailor piloting a fast boat, and like Sternberg, regatta victories appear to be right around the comer.
Peter McCormick keeps his foot in the door in this sport occasionally sailing the stern-steering C boat ‘Twin Beds’ , (the fastest C boat in the world!), to regatta wins.
A.J. Whitehorse has traveled full circle from that day when he won a ‘secret’ DN race ‘over a good field of yachts.’ A.J. would soon climb aboard a Skeeter and in a short number of seasons, would become the premier ‘light- air’ Skeeter pilot in the country. AJ. won many regatta races, (although no over-all regatta titles,) and in 1986 he would reclaim the lce Yacht Challenge Pennant of America for our club in a stunning upset over the Skeeter lce Boat Club of Lake Geneva. In the year 2000, almost twenty years later to the day, A.J. was again winning DN races on Lake Kegonsa.
ISA News & Views correspondent Mark Langenfeld, sailed for a number of years in both the Nite and later, the Renegade field. However Mark was a young man going places. Career took precedence over ice boating and early in the 1990’s he sold his Renegade to Gary Sternberg. Mark is still interested in the sport and maybe one day we will see his return to it
Bill McCormick still celebrates his birthday around the first of the year and still, occasionally, competitively sails his Renegade in 4LIYC and regatta events. In the decades since the 1980 Bloody Mary race both Art Jark and Jim Payton have passed away. Both are members of the exclusive 4LIYC Honor Roll after long years of competition and service to this sport
Art Jark was one of the great characters the sport of ice yachting has ever had the pleasure of knowing. A competitive Skeeter pilot for many years, Art’s yacht the ‘Nancy E III’ was a fixture at regattas for many years. It was twice used by the Pewaukee Ice Yacht Club to capture the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America.
Jim Payton capped a remarkable ice yachting career, (with numerous race wins and regatta titles sailing one of the sports legendary yachts, the A boat ‘Mary B’), by becoming the Chief Judge of our club. Jim dropped the flag for club and regatta rates for many years. His presence on the ice is greatly missed to this day.
And finally, one last note, the weather. The ISA News & Views reported back in 1980′, “Its been a bazaar weather year.” and ” A warm and snowless December, we finally got on the ice the 29th and 30th.”
Temperatures in the fortes? Worries of thin ice? Sound familiar? Ahh yes… The more things change…. the more they stay the same.