1922 Madison Winter Carnival on Lake Monona. Photo courtesy Marv Luck.

The 1922 photo above is difficult to write about because there is so much history captured at that moment. Pictures like this can send one down a never-ending rabbit hole of history. It’s tough to stick to one topic when there are so many presented in this photo, such as Madison’s history, the history of each boat and skipper, and the differences between the Hudson River and Madison styles of Stern-Steerer. For this post, I’ll try to stick to the subject of DORLA.

A 4LIYC Facebook member in Madison recently asked about the Stern-Steerer DORLA because her family had a connection to the boat. Marv Luck of Oshkosh, who knows the big ships’ history better than anyone, noticed the request and handed me a couple of 8 x 10 photos of DORLA last weekend at the Puckaway Nite and Renegade regatta.

DORLA was owned initially by Henry Meyer of Pewaukee, WI. I’m not sure who built DORLA, but I would guess John Buckstaff of Oshkosh, WI. (Marv can correct me if I’m wrong.) The Meyer family was heavily involved in ice sailing in the first half of the 20th century, and Henry served as Secretary and Treasurer of the Northwest for several years.

The newspaper reports about the 1922 Madison Winter Carnival don’t mention DORLA, but that’s undoubtedly her in the photo because the picture came from the Meyer family. The Capital Times reported on February 3, 1922, “…to make the ice boat races a feature of the Carnival, the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club has received acceptances of a challenge from the Ice Yacht Clubs at Pewaukee, Oconomowoc and Oshkosh. Several Hudson River types of ice boats will be in the fleet of boats from Pewaukee and Oconomowoc. Suitable trophies consisting of cups and pennants will be awarded the three winning boats: in three different classes.”

Henry Meyer and DORLA won three Class A Stern-Steerer titles in the Northwest Regatta in 1928, 1930, and 1931 and the Hearst Trophy in 1931 and 1932. I have found no mention of DORLA until 1947.

In 1947, DORLA appeared again in a Wisconsin State Journal report about the Northwest. She had become part of the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club Stern-Steerer fleet and was owned by O. T. Havey and sailed by Phil Oetking. In 1948, the same newspaper reported that Havey’s boat had placed second in the Northwest regatta under a new name ELECTRA. Of course, Havey gained fame as the man who commissioned the MARY B Class A Stern Steerer. In 1956, the boat was called DORLA again with a new owner, 4LIYC member Johnny Adams.

DORLA might have ended up with the same fate as so many old Stern-Steerers, quietly decaying in a barn until put on a burn pile by people who had no idea of her regatta titles and rich history.

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