International Skeeter Association Regatta
The International Skeeter Association (ISA) was organized in the late 1930s and the first ISA regatta was sailed in 1940. Skeeters were developed on Geneva Lake in Wisconsin. They are piloted by a single skipper and steer from the front of the boat as opposed to the original iceboats which were crewed by two or more and steered from the rear.
The Skeeter is the “Formula One” of ice yachting, a wide open development class where state-of-the-art sailing is seen annually. The only restriction on the Skeeter builder is a 75 square foot sail maximum sail area. While the basic configuration for successful E Skeeters has long been established, significant design improvements have been developed within the Four Lakes fleet. Taller rigs and rear seat Skeeters designed and built by 4LIYC members Bill Mattison and Paul Krueger have brought world championship titles to Madison skippers. In 1989, New Jersey’s Dan Clapp took the ice boating world by storm with his first front-seater and dominated the ISA regatta during the 1990s. Skeeter builders are adept with high tech materials like carbon fiber, and Kevlar. The super powerful Skeeters are the fastest boats on the ice. Sufficiently committed skippers find the greatest challenge in these boats, where design, building, and maintenance skills share equal roles with sailing ability
It took a while, but the Wisconsin Skeeter Association Bottle Trophy finally found its way to last season’s recipient Pat Heppert. Looks like Pat had the perfect bottle waiting for it! Pat writes:
It is a great honor to be a part of the legacy of this trophy, and I am eternally grateful to be the caretaker of this for 2019. The artistry and imagination of every one of Harry Whitehorse’s creations are truly impressive. In the background you will also see the new expanded headquarters of the Heppert boat works!
July 4th signals we’re climbing to the apex of the iceboating off-season (iceboat mid-summer is July 27, more on that later). It’s become an iceboat.org 4th of July tradition, ever since Tom Nichols built the boat, to post Class A Skeeter, EAGLE, in its red, white, and blue livery to commemorate the holiday. EAGLE was born in New Jersey, built and sailed by Tom Nichols. JD purchased the boat in July 2012 and brought her west. Below is a video of EAGLE’S first sail in Minnesota. Both Tom and JD have won the ISA regatta twice, Tom in 2005 and 2006 and JD in 2018 and 2019.
I imagined it would be like Frank Lloyd Wright stopping by to check out our Convention Center. He’d be wearing the half circle reading glasses occasionally glancing over the top and then returning to the precise plans which captured his vision. The pockets of his finely tailored suit coat would be filled with measuring devices—a digital caliper, a laser guided tape measure, an atomic plumbometer—all calibrated by NASA. He’d pace around the structure, all too frequently grumbling a seemingly agitated “hmmmm,” which could only be interpreted as, “did this epoxy sniffer really think THIS is what I had in mind?” I was prepared for a tirade.
The night before, I had that dream where you’re supposed to be taking the final exam, but you realize you never went to class. Not one time. Or read any of the books. I needed something to relieve my anxiety. As luck would have it, a CBD store opened in my neighborhood. The proprietor is an old hippie, who goes by the name “Moon Dart.” He somehow rationalized that cashing in on people’s physical and mental struggles didn’t make him “the man.” Looks and smells like a capitalist to me, but in my hood we’re even left of Bernie, so that’s worse than calling someone the other “c” word. Yeah, that one. I went right for the highest potency, figuring it was like DN runners—more is always better.
Turns out, my anxiety was completely unnecessary. Inspector Heppert was very kind. At least in-person. When he gets a few beers in him, he might have the entire bar giggling like 7th grade girls at a slumber party, showing pictures of my incompetence on his iPad. But at least I won’t be around to hear it. After I slap a bunch of carbon on the outside, most of my infractions will be hidden anyway. And I know a good painter. So, I’m counting on at least “looking” fast. By the way, Moon Dart says the CBD oil is great for stoning runners. He advises stopping at 420. Makes sense.
Daniel Hearn elevates his C-Skeeter build.
“New Ways to Shave”
“Heavy Metal Lightweight”
“It’s a Bubble”
“Frosting For Frozen Fun”
“When Your Plank Needs Work”
“A Weak Moment”
Building in the Big City
I’m going to need new business cards, After completing my pre-glue test fit, I realized I’m not just a “Builder” anymore. I’ve gone vertical, so I must be a “Developer.” My basement projects have consumed all the available horizontal space. Anything more and you might see me featured on an episode of “Hoarders.” Is anyone else amazed at the kind of crap people will watch on TV? Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly what you’d call “highbrow.” My wife has been training the Oconomowoc hillbilly out of me for 35 years, with limited success. But come on, “Moonshiners!?” When subtitles are necessary to understand a show’s characters who are speaking something that resembles English, that might be a good indication of a waste of time.
Back to development. As is typical with construction projects, my staging was a bit off. An unforeseen problem with my Sitka supply chain left me one board short. Not wanting to idle my high-priced labor and delay progress, I charged ahead with the available materials. Fast forward to today, and I’ve got a mostly completed frame, but nowhere to glue up my second side board. Hmm…what would a Developer do? Yes, that’s it, bring in the crane and scrape the sky!
At this point in my build, my mechanical equipment was collecting dust, so why not put it to use? With my Harken powered crane in place, I hoisted my frame out of the way and created the space I needed to glue up my second sideboard. Whoa…and when I cut her loose from the oppressive chains of the building table, if she didn’t go into an immediate hike, like she was rounding the top mark in a blow! This frozen filly may be a hard one to tame.
Daniel Hearn shares another installment on his C Skeeter build proving again that iceboating attracts creative types!
“Heavy Metal Lightweight”
“It’s a Bubble”
“Frosting For Frozen Fun”
“When Your Plank Needs Work”
“A Weak Moment”
New Ways to Shave
I’ve been receiving AARP mailings now for 8 years. To add to the insult, it started before I even officially hit the big 5-0. It’s a mystery how they even found me. When we were hunting Bin Laden, we should have put them on the case. If you were born before seat belts were required, they know where you are.
As we get older maybe we do get stuck in our ways. I’ve been shaving the same way for decades. Good News Plus razors with the lubrication strip and the cheapest cream on the shelf. Two blades were always good enough for me, and as far as I was concerned, any white cream would do the job. But shampoo? Nothing but the best for me. Not for what the fancy fluids do for my locks, though I’m sure you’ve noticed the sheen, bounce and manageability. But because when my daughters were all home, they would move on to the next miracle liquid before the last one was gone. I may have a lifetime supply of wounded soldiers. And I smell like a sorority house.
Before Amazon, my wife picked up my shaving supplies at an actual store. Now they’re delivered to my door with a single click. Making it easy has made Jeff Bezos 158.1 billion. But now Harry’s has made it even easier. And better. I don’t even have to click. Not one time. The blades just show up when I need them. They’re probably using a top secret algorithm to calculate the precise speed of my facial hair growth and the corresponding life span of each blade, based the Rockwell rating of my whiskers and my shaving frequency. I may be on the cutting edge of shaving (I’m slightly embarrassed about that pun), but I’m at the dull center of fashion. I still wear socks with my dress shoes. And see no need to sport pants so short that my ankles show. Who decided “floods” were a “look?” Plus, MY suit jackets actually fit ME. When did it become fashionable to look like the “oops” of a Catholic family–the boy who was last in line to wear the First Communion suit, when he was much taller than his older brothers at the same age.
The razors from Harry’s have like 17 blades and they stay sharp for a long time. MBAs who want to sound smart would call this a “core competency.” Me, well, my MBA is a Mop Bucket Attitude, so I’m thinking they should get into runners. Perfectly profiled and optimally sharp (or dull) for the upcoming conditions, delivered right to my door the day before the regatta is even called “ON”. This may be the next move for Amazon. I’d better call a patent attorney to protect my “intellectual property.” When you charge $900/hr., you have to use expensive words. Translation for those of you with an MBA like mine—my “good idea.” If I don’t, Amazon, Google or Apple will most certainly steal my good idea. And I think they’ve got enough money.
All the DN planks I’ve built were “close enough” planks. I’d bend them up following all the conventional wisdom, then start eyeball hand-planing until I thought they looked cool. Then I’d add glass in search of deflection that would match what the fast guys said would be calibrated to my weight, and called it good. But with my C-Skeeter project, I thought I needed to break from my old ways. So, the first thing I did was look up NACA foils. I don’t even know what that stands for, but I stumbled upon the section with foil shapes that were neither lifty or draggy. (These are highly technical terms beyond the scope of this recap). I sized one to the width of my plank, built a router jig to create shape reference cuts, estimated the declining depth of my cuts to account for the ½” tapering of the plank from inboard to outboard, then made lots of sawdust. Not as precise as a CNC router, but a sophisticated shave for me!
Above: Pat Heppert and John Dennis with the first place Wisconsin Skeeter Association Paul Krueger Trophy.
The 2019 Wisconsin Skeeter Association (WSA) trophies winners have been selected based upon regatta results. After consultation with WSA officials, the United States Geological Survey, and the final say of WSA Director of Competition, Greg Whitehorse, the regatta starting and finish lines were determined to be on the Wisconsin side – even though the ISA and Northwest regattas were launched out of the Minnesota side of Lake Pepin. These trophies will be awarded at the 4LIYC Spring Banquet on April 27th at Springers. You still have until Sunday night to make your reservation. Banquet details here.
B Skeeter Champion Steve Schalk
2nd Northwest Regatta
2nd 2019 ISA Regatta
Tied 2018 ISA Regatta
Also in acknowledgement of his
work as ISA & NIYA Secretary and
his support for the B Skeeter fleet.
Sunday Series 1st Place
The Tom Hyslop Trophy
aka “Yellow Boat on a Swivel”
Many thanks to Pat for helping
PK set up and tear down,
and most importantly,
ensuring all the pins and bolts
are stored in their proper places.
Started all races
and honoring an
incredible come back after
a year of recovery.
Daniel Hearn addresses sitka spruce and the C Skeeter steering system with a little help from friends.
Stopped by McCormick Lumber over my lunch hour Friday to pick up the one additional Sitka board I needed for the two 20 foot chines on the port side of the hull. I was greeted in the parking lot by the Global CEO of the conglomerate, Andy McCormick, who was returning from a high-powered business lunch. He was still sucking Diet Coke through the straw in the Hardee’s cup. I considered Andy a friend, but witnessing that he’s destroying our oceans still using straws, I may have to reconsider. He escorted me to the yard, probably concerned that I would slap as many boards as I could on top of the Swagger Wagon and tear off without paying. I asked him if he could close the overhead door as I searched for the fastest board, as I was a little cold. He asked me if I always wore my wife’s skirt on Fridays?
Saturday morning, thinking my neighbors probably wouldn’t appreciate the sweet howl of my planner in the driveway at 6:30 a.m., I made my way to my office to get the job done in our storage area. Since I don’t have a garage, I’ve sort of commandeered the space. It’s become an ice sailing junkyard; rather appropriate, as the room also harbors our building’s dumpsters. They don’t stink too bad(ly), and it’s a short throw for getting rid of the sawdust. Bonus. I’m probably supposed to put the $10-per-board-foot waste in a bag before depositing it in the non-recyclable dumpster, but we contract with a private service. They’ll pick up anything, unlike the City of Madison that will leave my carts stranded at the curb like a blind date with a nice personality, if they see one leaf poking out of the lid. With the first job of the day complete, back home for breakfast.
Next stop, Nordhaus Boatwerks. Arranged to meet up with Jim to compare different steering systems. After discussing pros and cons, I decided to go with a Renegade style system, but with a wheel (which is not allowed in the Renegade) and extra purchase achieved by attaching blocks to the steering post flanges and dead-ending the lines that go to the steering wheel sprocket back into a bulkhead. Maybe using Spectra rather than cable. I kinda sounds like I know what I’m talking about, right? Well, truth be told, before my remedial session with Professor Nordhaus, I was as clueless and a redneck in a woman’s studies class.
I was also rather uncertain about how I would ultimately attach the decking to the sideboards, so on my way back from church Sunday I gave Jerry Simon a call. It was 10:25 a.m. I was hoping he might be able to stop by my shop in the next week or so. He said, “I can be there by 11:00.” All Jerry needs is an app, and he could be like Uber. Before the eleventh bell faded, the doorbell chimed in and there he was in his well-worn sailing cap, jeans and work boot style shoes. Cheerful as always. I suspect Jerry is on Lombardi time—”if you’re on time, you’re late.” But he probably backed it off a bit for me, seeing as how it was Sunday, and all. And Palm Sunday, no less. Those services go on forever. No need to document with a watch. Every kid squirming in the pew is evidence enough. Of course Jerry didn’t come empty handed. He came bearing gifts of tools. A pneumatic staple gun in a plastic box with every component and staple size precisely labeled. He provided a detailed tutorial that would rival any YouTube sensation, and then showed me how I would put it to work for no-bubble decking and proper scarf joints.
My consultants weekend wouldn’t have been complete without a call to the Heppert Hot Line. All along I’ve thought it was a Call Center in Kingston, but I’m beginning to think the guy on the other end sounds more Minnesotan, than Jamaican. “How in the heck do I get a six foot level to touch three bulk heads on the sides of a curved boat,” I asked. “You don’t,” the guy said, “that’s only by the top rear spine. “Oh,” I replied sheepishly, thinking that maybe I had already sanded a little too much off the small section I had started with. Oh well, may have to shim out that one bulk head some to maintain the smooth curve. He went on to explain something about the flat spine transitioning into compound curves. “Ah…what,” I thought? But for the record, I never took any women’s studies classes.
(Photos below of steering in Meade restoration project at Nordhaus Boatwerks. My C-Skeeter steering will be similar).
Daniel Hearn brings home the second most important part of any iceboating program, the trailer and sees the C Skeeter hull emerge from the parts and pieces.
Frosting For Frozen Fun
When I eat birthday cake (never with ice cream, but I love ice cream…I know, weird) my fork surgically targets the cake part first, leaving mostly frosting for a super sweet, sugar-filled finish. Flower? Corner piece? Ah…yeah…both, please.
It was all frosting at the Spaight Street Syndicate last weekend. Picked up my new C-Skeeter hauler in lower Michigan Saturday morning. Great little trailer company willing to sell direct to consumers and build custom quite economically. On the way there, dropped off a DN mast for repair with Bob Rast. Going to a newbie I assisted getting into a good entry level program. Welcome to the fleet, Vince! Had dinner with my oldest daughter in Chicago and spent the night at her place. I did eat meat on Friday during Lent. Since the Lord can walk on water, he’s certainly an ice boater, so I’m counting on him cutting me some slack.
On Sunday, I got to start dry fitting pieces. It’s been pretty much all cake since I started—planning, ordering, cutting, gluing, carboning, bending, sweeping, swearing, apologizing (to my wife for the excess dust; I don’t think she hears me cussing like a longshoreman). But all of a sudden ,“poof,” it looks like a boat! Frosting for frozen fun is good for my psyche.
Damn, I’m one board short! There I go again with my potty mouth. I’ll have to pay a visit to Andy at McCormick Lumber this week. He’s an Irishman…he won’t mind my language.
The Spaight Street Syndicate C Skeeter build continues. Here’s the latest from Daniel Hearn.
YOUR PLANK NEEDS WORK
I was in NYC last weekend visiting my youngest daughter, Sheridan. She took me to one of these trendy fitness clubs staffed by overly cheerful, Lulumon-clad trainers whose smiles conceal their fondness of torture. It was called The Fitting Room. Their e-blasts ever since will never let me forget.
“Locker room straight ahead,” said the ethnically ambiguous receptionist with the blue buzz cut, plentiful piercings and ink. Admittedly, I was a little groggy, having stayed up way past my embarrassingly early normal bedtime, taking in a comedy show at a club often used by big names for trying out their new material. Chris Rock didn’t show that night.
As I wondered in, there standing right in front of me was a shapely young woman with nothing on but lacy black panties and a party bra. (Not that I was looking, of course, I was with my wife and daughters). As I desperately scanned the area for the silhouette of the guy wearing pants, all I saw were more women. Women in various states of dress. Certain that I had wondered into the wrong locker room, I sheepishly turned to exit trying to be invisible. It must have showed on my Midwestern face as another woman said, “don’t worry, it’s a coed locker room.” “Hmm, I thought, temporarily relieved, until I started thinking about exposing my tighty-whiteys to total strangers, and most of them women. My ladies know I’m a dork, but these women…scratch that…they probably took one look at my dad jeans and concluded, “dork.”
Our class had two wirelessly mic’ed instructors. Not very far into the workout, I became a “project” for the instructor with the British accent and tightly trimmed beard. He said to me, “ Daniel (at least he didn’t call me sir), your plank needs work. I thought to myself, “dude, you have no idea!” Maybe I should send him the pictures?
Monday was a busy day for Ken Whitehorse and Paul Krueger at the Skeeter shop. Via Ken Whitehorse:
Work continues. Had much trouble pulling halyard and sail up. Went to Menards and got the ACME mast tube clean-out reamer.Some assembly needed. Kit included a 3/8ths 4ft long threaded rod and 2 30 ft long heavy galvanized wire. This allowed for two people to seesaw the barbed rod and thus ream out the glue in the mast tube. Also 180 psi of air helped! Smooth sailing now. Will bring the ACME mast tube roto -roorter to the meeting so other iceboaters can borrow.
Attention Nite National sailors and 4LIYC members: During this weekend’s regatta and club racing, Ken Whitehorse is holding a mini-fund raiser for the Mary B Stern Steerer Foundation by giving you a chance to help name his new Skeeter (formerly Bob Kau’s Skeeter). For only $1, you can suggest a name for the blue Skeeter and all the money will go to support the Mary B Stern-Steerer Foundation. See Ken on the ice this weekend for more information.
News from the Spaight Street Syndicate
Look what appeared in the inbox this morning! An update from our other area Skeeter builder, Daniel Hearn, mentioned in yesterday’s post.
At the Northwest Regatta in January, I had the chance to sail the C-Skeeter “Drifter.” I’ve always admired the boat from afar, but resisted the temptation to look into it further. But then this very nice man named Pat (might be an alias) saw me checking her out. He must have sensed an easy target. I didn’t see his white van or puppy, but I’m sure he has both. And he smiled so warmly as he shared his chocolate. Next thing I know I had downloaded the plans and was purchasing Baltic Birch. If Pat is married, I hope his wife is not high maintenance, because Pat is now receiving more correspondence than Dear Abby. No doubt he’s already regretted giving me a taste, but it’s too late to turn back now.
First thing I had to do was extend my DN building table. Check. Now I’m at 20 feet and level. With one foot to spare on each end. Good thing I’m kinda scrawny. And good thing that window is where it is, otherwise this thing would be a permanent fixture in my basement. I measured twice. I’ll get her out. I think? Jack Ripp used to talk about “building in a closet.” Now I appreciate that.
The next thing I did was embrace my deficiencies. I know next to nothing about Skeeters, so I consulted the brain trust who knows everything. Pat Heppert and Bill Buchholz have openly shared their experiences building Pat’s design. And the A-Skeeter guys have shared lots of info with a guy who’s been playing around with those “toy boats” for some time. Many thanks to Jay Yaeso, Kenny Whitehorse, Paul Krueger, Bob Kau, Tom Nichols, Henry Bossett, Steve Orlebeke, Jim Nordhaus, Jerry Simon and others. With their help and tips, I might actually be able to do this. And one more thank you to my brother, Brian, who is providing a second set of hands and valuable structural input pulled from his experience as an architect.
Yesterday, I also had the pleasure of visiting with Bill Mattison, the man who probably knows more about Skeeters than anyone on the planet. Bill is on the mend from a little setback. When I showed up at his room, I met Bill Jr. and granddaughter, Abby, who live in Racine. Told them I love going there for regattas. When I mentioned Cupie Burgers, Well Brothers Pizza and Cliff’s for breakfast, I think they thought I was legit. Well, when I started talking iceboats with Bill, he lit up light the North Beach Harbor lighthouse. I showed him pictures and videos of what’s going on in the shops and Abby giggled when he struggled with the technology. Just listening to Bill exposed how little I know about the Formula One of iceboats. But I enjoyed every second. Bill Jr. said he hadn’t seen his dad so engaged for a long time. That was nice to hear! And what a treasure we have in Madison with so many elder statesmen of ice sailing!
So much for my rambling. Here’s what I’ve scratched off my list so far. With my limited building space, I started on the small stuff first, and when the weather is reasonably warm on weekends, I jump outside to disturb my neighbors making sawdust in the driveway. (Had a visit with a Madison police officer yesterday. Nice guy!)
- Mentioned to my wife in passing that I “might” build another boat. “Really,” she said, as she smiled lovingly. (That may have been a question, but I’m going to punctuate with a period. She’s the best!)
- Bulkheads cut out. (Twice, actually. Decided it wasn’t a good idea to try to make her shorter and skinnier). We’re not into “body shaming” on the near east side. Pretty much anything else goes, however.
- Four bulkheads surrounding cockpit covered with two layers of carbon. (Learned how to do it poorly on the first one. Will cover again to hide my ineptitude).
- Springboard formed, shaped and covered top and bottom with carbon.
- Boom covered with carbon.
- Middle “ladder” lamination of plank complete.
- Stringers and spines cut to size.
- Canopy located and ordered.
- Trailer designed and ordered.
- Sideboards and other plank laminations planed to size.
- Long list of potential names generated. (Class rule that Skeeters have a name on the side).
Next up—edge-gluing boards to get required height or width for sideboards and outside plank laminations. Then, gluing up the plank.
P.S. “Hint. Hint.” Got it, webmaster!
I simply walked over next door to the Krueger/Whitehorse Skeeter Iceboat Shop to ask if they’d be ready to sail next weekend if Kegonsa came in and was immediately tasked with helping Ken make some adjustments on the blue Class A Skeeter. Ken caught me up on the latest news from one of the busiest Skeeter shops in town. (Yes, there’s another which we hope will start sharing photos of their build. Hint. Hint.) The big news of the weekend was the delivery of massive Skeeter Class A size runner sharpener made by Bob Rast.
FAKE NEWS CORRECTION
Previously, it had been reported on this website that Steve Orlebeke designed the Skeeter cascade block system. Sources tell me that it was actually Jay Yaeso who figured out and installed this sheeting system 2 years ago.
Oh, and to answer my original question if the Skeeters will be ready for next weekend, the answer is yes, PK’s boat is on the trailer ready to go and Ken will have the blue Skeeter ready as well.
4LIYC Skeeter sailors Ken Whitehorse, Paul Krueger, and Jim Gluek gathered at the Krueger/Whitehorse Skeeter Shop on Saturday. They brought and measured 8 sails and learned that all were less than 74 square feet. They also spent the day configuring a new Harken cascade pulley system designed by Steve Orlebeke for Ken’s new blue-soon-to-be-red Skeeter. Steve’s design is attracting a lot of interest including some from Daniel Hearn who stopped by to see it being installed. Ken reports that Tom Hyslop will also be changing his pulley system over Steve’s design which uses a combination of Harken block 3238, 3216, and 3215. Iceboat work never stops!
Jim Gluek took some of the photos and sent along this note:
Great day with two legends in our sport. PK and Kenny. Stories of the Skeeter side-car so Kenny could take a crew; two sets of chocks on the plank so you could move the runner in board. One of the most awesome thing about ice boating are the people and the stories over the years.
4LIYC Skeeter & DN sailor and head of Harken Engineering Steve Orlebeke explains why he’d rather be on ice in the Harken publication, At The Front.
Like a lot of us here in Pewaukee, I’m a lifelong sailor. Maybe less like most of us, my favorite sailing is done where you really hope you never get wet. For the last several years I’ve been working as hard as I can in the Skeeter and DN iceboat classes. I descend from a grand Harken tradition. Get them in the right moment, Peter and Olaf might let slip that they like iceboating best too. Read more.