It’s the off-season here at iceboat.org which means there will be more posts about iceboat building and the history of the sport. 4LIYC racing and general regatta information will be posted here during the season. If this is your first time here, thanks for stopping by and check out our “How to Get Involved” page for more information. Please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. Think ice!
NEW: Order your 4LIYC Burgee.
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.
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.
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
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.
Life’s slower pace has motivated me to finally tackle a big project – converting the many ice sailing DVDs that have been given to me into a format suited for the internet. Here’s one of the first, an interview with the late “Nubs” Salzsieder, Mike Peters, and Andy Gratton (and Andy’s young daughter) on Lake Winnebago. Andy bought the WISCONSIN from someone in Lake Mills, WI in 1994 which helps to date the video.
This Camel cigarette ad featuring Lake Hopatcong Ice Yacht Club Commodore George J. Seger ran in newspapers nationwide in March of 1939. An internet search revealed that Commodore Seger must have capitalized on his Camel advertising fame and marketed a model ice boat. The shiny red Skeeter model and the box it came in are both lovely works of art. The model was offered for sale at an auction site in 2017. I’ve never seen one of these models before. Maybe someone out there has one. If so, send a picture!
Made a quick trip to Florida to retrieve a replacement canopy for my C-Skeeter. A builder error caused the original to go airborne and shatter during a photo shoot for the launch of “Black Ice,” a new line of extreme weather clothing from Sail Racing International. The line will be in market this fall. Sail Racing
Meet Charles Stence, aka, Bubble Man. He runs an airplane maintenance service in Indiantown, Florida and makes canopies for experimental aircraft as a side business. If you need a canopy, give him a shout. He has exceptionally high standards, good pricing and is an excellent communicator. It was a pleasure dealing with him. Aerocanopy.
In January 1952, Lake Monona delivered and the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club hosted the Northwest regatta and the Hearst Challenge. (The Hearst trophy was donated in 1903 by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst.) Lake Monona in the 1950s could be counted upon for sailable ice thanks to the soot pollution from the coal burning power plant on its northeastern shore. The downside for the Skeeters was that the coal dust very quickly dulled runners. Perhaps the coal cinders didn’t affect the big iron of the Stern-Steerer runners.
The three majestic Class A Stern Steerers that competed for the Hearst that year were 2 4LIYC boats and 1 from Oshkosh including the MARY B owned by O. T. Havey and skippered by Carl Bernard with crew Norm Braith and Charlie Johnson; FRITZ owned and sailed by Jim Lunder with Beauford Polglase; and FLYING DUTCHMEN owned by John Buckstaff of Oshkosh, WI and skippered by Chuck Nevitt with crew Bud McDonald. MARY B was able to defend her title that year.The excitement of the regatta drew crowds and prompted the 4LIYC to set up a public address system at Law Park. Someone provided a play by play account during the racing.
These historic ice yachts are still with us today. Current owner of the FLYING DUTCHMEN, Dave Lallier in Fond du Lac, reminded me that FLYING DUTCHMEN is the correct name of the boat, not DUTCHMAN. The Van Dyke brothers from Milwaukee commissioned the FLYING DUTCHMEN in the 1930s, hence the plural designation. MARY B is back in Madison and owned by the Ice Boat Foundation while FRITZ is owned by Fred Stritt and is available for sale.
These color slides were originally posted on the Historic Madison, WI Photo Group Facebook page by the granddaughter of Earl W. Brown, the man who took them.