JD at the start of a race.
It’s been a Fourth of July tradition around here for several years to showcase the red, white, and blue Class A Skeeter built by Tom Nichols and now in the capable hands of Minnesota’s John Dennis.
But wait, there’s more – as an added bonus this year, enjoy Charles Wysocki’s “Ice Riders On The Chesapeake” Americana-themed print. Hope everyone enjoys the weekend and continues to Think Ice! You have 150 days until December 1 to sharpen those runners.
Ice Riders on the Chesapeake Bay by Charles Wysocki
In his internet travels, Henry Bossett came across a library site of oral histories from Liverpool, New York. The interviews with Ken Wentworth prompted Henry (a now retired North Sails New Jersey sail maker) to recall an old boat builder “who would come in to show me his hand-designed and built model boats… I asked him about the North Shrewsbury Ice Yacht Club… He replied with a story of how he used to hang out there as a kid and listen to the “Captains” sitting around their potbelly stove, spinning yarns of days gone by, and impressing him with wild tales. Anyway, this guy obviously knows how to spin a tale also, but he does have direct knowledge of some interesting iceboat history.”
Each video runs about 3 minutes and are an entertaining listen.
White Wings and Black Ice: ICICLE Archives
Jane Wiswell Pegel and her Skeeter CALAMITY JANE
Happy 87th birthday to the Skeeter Ice Boat Club’s Jane Pegel today! If you are new to this sport, Jane is a national champion iceboat racer. She has also given back to this sport by serving in many different iceboat class governing roles over the course of her career. If you are interested in the sport, make plans to attend the annual iceboat swap meet in Williams Bay, WI that Jane helps to organize every fall. Watch for the announcement on this website.
Jane Pegel Archives
Jane Pegel in CALAMITY JANE DN.
National Sailing Hall of Fame Class of 2020
Bill Mattison has been sailing iceboats with the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club since he was a teenager. Our club motto is “Home of the Champions” and when I write or say our club motto, I always think of Bill. Congratulations to Bill, Mauretta and your extended family. What an honor!
The Class of 2020 was formally announced on June 23, 2020 and will be inducted in a virtual ceremony September 12, 2020.
From the National Sailing Hall of Fame website:
When superstar sailor Buddy Melges needed help for his first America’s Cup challenge in 1986 he asked his long-time friend, sailing rival and Korean War veteran, Bill Mattison for some help. The heavy 12 Meter Class was a handful for Buddy and his young crew and tuning the boat was a big challenge especially for Western Australia’s famous afternoon sea breeze known as the Fremantle Doctor. Mattison arrived at the compound and went to work. He had a lifetime of experience making boats like scows and ice boats sail faster and faster. His credo was that incremental adjustments made big differences. Buddy’s “Heart of America” was off the pace of his rivals early in the challenger trials, but week after week his boat got faster as a direct result of Mattison’s hands-on work. When you saw him walking around the team’s compound, he seemed to have a tool in every pocket. Bill Mattison is a product of the Inland Lake region where Scows skate over the water at 25 knots and when the lakes freeze the sailors sharpen their blades and attain speeds of 100 mph on a variety of ice boats. Mattison was a perpetual champion in both scows and ice boats and he quickly adapted his impressive skills to the world of the America’s Cup. Buddy Melges said, “Whatever needed to be repaired, designed or improved, Bill would quickly come with the solution and get it done.”
Consider this partial list of his victories: 14-time International Skeeter Class Champion, three-time Gar Wood Invitational Champion, 12-time Triple Crown Trophy winner, and winner of over 80 local regattas in A, E and C Scows. Most of his sailing was out of the Mendota Yacht Club in Madison, Wisconsin. His secret to success was being a great sailor and discovering innovations to improve performance. Mattison was the first to use a running backstay system and swept back spreaders in the A Scow when he helped revive the class in 1981 along with fellow E Scow sailor Lon Schoor.
Several examples of his innovative work include being the first to use composite construction and the first to incorporate maximum depth foil spar sections to smooth airflow. He was able to create an endplate effect and increase performance. National Sailing Hall of Fame Inductee, Peter Harken says that Mattison had, “Endless generosity” with his time, his expertise and his labor to help others get out on the ice or water. If a boat had a breakdown you could bet Bill would be there to help.”
While Buddy Melges’s America’s Cup campaign came up short in 1987 he was back with America3 in 1992 and signed Mattison up again. This time the team won and Buddy was quick to thank his shore crew wizard. Buddy also called on Mattison to help him win ice boat regattas. One of his fastest creations was “Honeybucket XI” Dave Medaris wrote in 1988, “Bill Mattison has wanted to go fast since he was four or five and hanging on to his first iceboat ride. He wanted to go faster as a reckless youth. He wanted to go faster in 1954 with “Honeybucket I” and even after winning this 11th title in 1986 he still seeks the edge.”
Around 1915, the Van Camp brothers of Oshkosh, WI wanted to compete for the most prestigious ice sailing trophies of the day. They looked to the east coast and commissioned a top-notch Class A stern steerer. The DEBUTANTE was built by Jacob Buckhout of Poughkeepsie, New York, the most renowned ice yacht builder of the Hudson River style during that time. An first class racing ice yacht needed a corresponding helmsman and the Van Camps called on Oshkosh’s John Buckstaff to take the tiller. The DEBUTANTE won the Stuart trophy in 1920 and 1939 with “Bucky” in the driver’s seat. (The “DEB” also won the 1960 Northwest Class A trophy with Bud Stroshine.)
In 1963, Roger Derusha of Menominee, MI bought the DEBUTANTE in from the Van Camps. Roger was an influential Renegade sailor and passed on in 1999. The “DEB” is still in Menominee, MI with Roger’s son, Renegader and DNer Mike Derusha.
This video combines two interviews from the 1980s. The first interview is Greg Siebold with Roger and Mike. The second interview takes us to a workshop at Marinette Marine where Mike Peters and Steve Buch interviewed Roger at length about the DEBUTANTE. Apologies for the quality and poor aspect ratio of the videos but we are lucky to have them.
The DEBUTANTE with Carl Bernard, Camp Van Dyke, John Buckstaff, and Andy Flom.