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
2021 CHAMPIONSHIP REGATTA NOTICE November 12, 2020
The ISA Executive Committee and International Race Committee met on November 11, 2020 to discuss the status of the 2021 ISA Championship Regatta currently scheduled for the second weekend of January 2021.
After careful consideration of the possible impacts of gathering our members from across the nation to meet in either the Western or Eastern Regions of the ISA, our consensus was to cancel the 2021 Regatta.
We feel that local club sailing will be possible with safety protocols in place for face covering, separation and only outdoor activity.
We encourage everyone to get out and sail locally. Mark your calendars for the 2022 ISA on the second weekend in January 2022.
See you on the ice.
Don Sanford, President
Steve Schalk, Secretary/Treasurer
Another instance of finding a picture when looking for another one, here’s a big line-up of Skeeters on Geneva Lake at either an ISA or Northwest Regatta, sometimes in the 1980 or 1990s. If this looks familiar, drop me a line.
I can find no newspaper accounts or photos from the 1948 International Skeeter Association regatta, but this 30 second YouTube clip makes up for the lack of pictures. Sailed on Fox Lake in Illinois, Elmer Millenbach won in RENEGADE II, described as a “magic” boat. The Renegade class competed as Class A Skeeters in the ISA regatta until 1950 when they first sailed their own championship.
Tip of the Helmet: John Eisenlohr
From “The Renegade Story.”
The non-profit association formed was to not sell plans, but to include them with first years membership dues. The first year, besides scattered memberships all over the sailing area, fleets were building in Toronto, Toledo, and Detroit. At a Detroit regatta, of 42 boats on the starting line, 22 were Renegades. My boat still did most of the winning and in our fleet we tried switching boats in “scrub races”. Whomever sailed my boat won. This seemed to impart some sort of message to some people even though I was handicapped trying to sail someone else’s boat that was set up for someone 6″ sorter than I. Less than subtle suggestions were made that I should build a new boat (according to the plans drawn up) to eliminate any “magic” inherent in Renegade II. This was of course a challenge I couldn’t refuse. I sold Renegade II at the end of the 1949 season.”
Previous: “Getting Framed”
Pat Heppert checks in with a note about his summer project, a new C Skeeter build and his continuing travails with “ACME” customer service.
Wide Hull Somewhat Explained, Still Confused
The next shipment arrived from ACME Iceboats Inc., and now it is clear why the frames for the new hull are so messed up looking. The mainsheet assembly actually is about a foot and a half wide. But it seems to have three ropes instead of just one and definitely doesn’t seem to belong on an iceboat. May have been a shipping error. So I got on the phone with customer service again, and they insist that this is what I ordered. How exactly do you expect me to deal with three ropes in the cockpit? “Well, sir, the problem is that you failed to also order our rope-less cockpit conversion upgrade”. They didn’t have pictures of this in the catalog; apparently, it is still under development and doesn’t come with a warranty. Again with the credit card, will see what shows up. But what are all three of these ropes for? “Sir, you need to pull on one of them for more power and pull on the other one for more speed.” That explains two of them, but then I asked what is the third one for? “You pull really hard on that one when you want to beat Daniel Hearn.”
The other day I was so inspired by everyone else’s summer iceboat projects that I had to start one of my own. So I went on the internet and ordered up a complete iceboat frame kit from ACME Iceboats Inc. (www.acme-iceboats.com).
When the UPS driver showed up with the big box, excitement quickly turned to disappointment. This doesn’t look anything like what I ordered, so I called customer service to complain. Why are all the frames black, and why did you overcharge my credit card? Customer service said, “This is because your order clearly specified you wanted the INSANITY option” No idea what that means, but it seems like a Dan Clapp reference. When I asked why all the forward frames clearly looked about 10% shorter than the plans, customer service started getting rude and said, “Well, sir, we are fully expecting you to lose some weight before next season.” FAT CHANCE of that happening.
Then I inquired why the aft frames didn’t seem to look anything like the plans. The tail end looks like it is going to be about a foot and a half wide and tapering down to almost no height at the plank. Why in the heck would any self-respecting front-loader possibly be this wide? The discussion went South, and customer service ended the call by saying, “If you are having so much trouble absorbing the simple concept of how to build an iceboat, then you are just going to have to order up our brand new mainsheet assembly and see how it all comes together.” I have no idea what this means, so I just pulled out the credit card and obeyed—no idea what is coming in the next shipment.
C-Skeeter “Drifter” I-291
Iceboat shops are busy this spring, including Daniel Hearn’s Spaight Street Syndicate. Here’s the latest report.
Is it Groundhog Day, or is this one of those automated Facebook anniversary posts? Well…neither. This is “Weak Moment,” the second C-Skeeter that will come out of the Spaight Street Syndicate. Wisconsin’s C-Skeeter Fleet is doubling in size! A different butt will be seated in the “Original Gangsta/Black Ice” when we’re back in-season.
I must clarify that it makes me uncomfortable talking about other guy’s butts, but I’ll reveal that the owner of this one knows how to make all sorts of sailboats go fast. Whether he’s at the helm, or helping one of his customers. I’ll leave it up to him to expose his butt. Just doesn’t seem appropriate for me to encourage such behavior. At least from another dude.
Not much will be different with boat #2. Hard to improve on Pat Heppert’s excellent design, though Pat is exploring the next generation. The evolution of “Drifter” will be called “Traveler.” Hint…hint. Maybe he’ll shoot Deb some post content to share what he’s been up to. [Yes, please, Ed.]
Weak Moment will be 7% smaller in height and width. That was my original intent with boat #1. In fact, I had completed a full set of bulkheads before getting cold feet hearing stories of claustrophobia. So, I started over. I would have been fine, but I didn’t know any better at the time, so I stuck the work on the shelf. Turns out, it gave me a nice jump start on boat #2.
It’s birthday week for 4LIYC Skeeter skipper Walter Whitehorse who celebrated 95 turns around the sun a few days ago. Nephew Gary Whitehorse posted a tribute on the 4LIYC Facebook page, which prompted another Skeeter sailor Harvey Wittee to remember a trip with Walter to the 1975 International Skeeter Association Regatta sailed at Saratoga, New York.
Previous: 1975 ISA slides from Gary Whitehorse and commentary by Dan Clapp
ISA Regatta Records
Since it was Wally’s 95th Birthday the other day, it reminded me of our photos of the ISA at Saratoga Lake in 1975. These photos were taken by Preston Shreeve who was an ice boater from New Jersey. Him and his wife were in the motel room next to us and they were the most delightful and enjoyable people to become acquainted with. You meet so many wonderful people ice boating.
Hope you enjoy the blast from the past!
Ashwaubenon, WI iceboater Jay Yaeso doubled his racing time and fun by bringing his Class A Skeeter and Stern-Steerer to Menominee, Michigan, on March 5-7, 2021. Jay sums up the weekend in this report. Scroll down below his recap to see a few of Gretchen Dorian’s Skeeter photos.
Skeeter sailing and Stern-Steering haven’t been exactly easy these past two winters. Mother Nature and COVID19 tagged teamed and put a beat down on us. That all ended abruptly the weekend of March 5-7, 2021, when a total of nine Class A Skeeters and eight Stern-Steerers landed at Menomonie, Michigan, courtesy of world-famous Renegade sailor Mike Derusha.
Mike spent countless hours evaluating the local conditions and determined it was green light go for all involved. He nailed it! Perfect landing and ice conditions.
The threat of the Mackinaw icebreaker coming through had us on red alert; however, the Coasties held off their icebreaking efforts the remainder of the weekend.
Day one Friday was all about the Skeeters. Conditions were perfect, a light 5-10 mph southeaster, and we completed four races.
John Dennis (JD) in the U194 and Ken Whitehorse piloting the M197 were the boats to beat. Both displayed blistering speed in this light condition. Most impressive is watching the legend Paul Krueger M165 sail at 81 years young! A true inspiration for any iceboater! Class act! The ice stayed hard all day with full sunshine. Rounding out the Friday fleet was Tom Hyslop V738, Leon Lebeau D888, and Jay Yaeso U311.
Saturday brought out three more Skeeters, Mark Isabell V30, Steve Orlebeke V500, and Alex Peterson V137. The day started with a light northwesterly, and Skeeters and Stern-Steerers shared a racecourse.
The Wisconsin Stern Steerers Association started race one of their championship regatta series. This race was by far the longest iceboat race I have ever experienced. My Stern-Steerer, HAYWIRE, was the only yacht to finish, and what a weird finish it was! She completed the race upwind as a 180-degree wind shift hit on the final leg. It was a grueling race that the Race Committee declared abandoned because of time limit infraction. The incredible wind shift made it easy on the Race Committee because the 180-degree wind shift flip-flopped the course.
The Skeeters sailed downwind and commenced race five of the weekend. Ken Whitehorse was hooked up and won the race. The fresh breeze locked in again from the southeast at 5-10 mph, which made it another great day. U194 and M197 were the boats to beat, with the M165 securing second place in race five and V30 showing much speed in race seven.
The Stern-Steerers plugged away throughout the day and managed to race three more races with the Class A boat MICHIGANDER sailed by Erik and Ritch Sawyer acing every race. Once again, proving a Class A Stern-Steerer is the ultimate ride! HAYWIRE chased the MICHIGANDER, followed up by the remainder of the fleet. Dave Lallier, Mike Kroll, Mark Weiner, Max Runge, Joe Terry and Class D winner Andy Gratton.
Upon completing the day’s racing, Wisconsin Skeeter Association’s morale Officer Ken Whitehorse presented JD the Bottle Trophy. All participants consumed some of Jameson’s whiskey bottle, which capped off a glorious day of Skeeter and Stern-Steerer racing. Following the Bottle Trophy celebration, the WSA gathered at Jozwiak’s Bar and Grill, home of the delicious and delightful hamburger know as the “Wabash” and killer homemade pizza.
Sunday arrived with light conditions with a forecasted south southeast wind at 10-15 mph. The light air gave the fleet leisure set up time. When the clock read 11 AM, we had 11 mph of wind which kept building all day. The Skeeters finished their series with the final race deciding who won the weekend series. JD prevailed with Kenny on his heels. Great to see newcomers Leon Lebeau and Alex Peterson join the Skeeter fleet! We are all looking forward to racing with these guys!
The WSSA wrapped up their championship with the MICHIGANDER winning race five, and HAYWIRE launched and sailing on two runners most of race six for the final race win. Great to see all the familiar faces with lots of new ones. We now can put the Skeeters and Stern-Steerers away fast and ready for the 21-22 season.
A weekend like this happens with a lot of behind-the-scenes help. Special thanks to Deb Whitehorse for all her support, to WSSA Race Committee Ann Gratton, and Mary Jane and Steve Schalk for tabulating and posting all results. Thank you to Mike Derusha for inviting us all up to Menominee. Thank you to Schoelgels Bayview restaurant for letting us drive through their parking lot and lawn to access this great sheet of ice, and Ken Whitehorse for all his work as WSA morale/trophy officer. Not to forget all competitors, thank you to everyone who showed up put in a tremendous effort to make this a most excellent weekend of sailing. Thanks for the incredible memories!
Jay Yaeso U-311 C-47
As told to the Editor by Ken Whitehorse
The Madison-based Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club Skeeter Fleet of Paul Krueger M165 and Ken Whitehorse M197 relentless search for ice finally paid off this past weekend at Menominee, Michigan, where they enjoyed 3 days of racing and camaraderie.
Earlier in the week, they set up on the west end of Lake Mendota on Tuesday in 40 mph winds and a 20f temperature. They checked ice with the 4LIYC ATV, and Ken sent out the word to the other Skeeter guys that “all systems go, ice looks great” in anticipation of Wednesday racing.
Tom Hyslop V738 arrived Wednesday morning to find the launch quickly disintegrating. The lake ice was still holding, and Ken proposed that they take turns at the wheel in his boat. 4LIYC Commodore Don Anderson arrived with the orange marks and the club’s Nebulous flotation device. The Dane County Lakes Patrol warden visited the landing, and Ken said, “a long talk ensued.”
Rather than trying to sail, Ken and Paul decided to pull off the trailer. Tom Hyslop and son Eric Hyslop assisted with boat disassembly and loading. When Ken hauled the trailer off the lake with his Mule ATV, the 8000# Bulldog trailer jack was damaged and bent. Ken remarked that “seven sets of Skeeter runners in the trailer might have been a bit much.” That afternoon, word came from Iceboat Central U311 Jay Yaeso about ice on Lake Michigan near Oconto, Wisconsin.
Bright and early Thursday morning, Ken went to the Past Champions Iceboat Shop and fired up his blowtorch to heat the trailer-crank cherry-red and fixed the roller wheel. Paul and Ken shoved off for Oconto to rendezvous with Tom Hyslop. Oconto’s ice was tremendous, but ice fishermen blocked access to the lake because the fish were hitting there.
Thankfully, Mike Derusha R188 called Paul and reported that Menominee, Michigan had plenty of ice and told them to “come on up.” The three ice seekers didn’t waste time making the 30-minute drive to Menominee. Mike met them at the landing with a big smile and welcoming arms. They thanked Mike for taking care of the Skeeter fleet. Ken said Mike’s response was, “M fleet helps us; we help you.” Ken texted Jay, informing him to spread the word that Menominee was the place to be. Tom ended the evening by holding up a PBR nightcap and uttered, “we ride tomorrow.”
The conditions at Menominee were perfect for three days of Skeeter racing. The Skeeters are grateful for Eric Hyslop’s help setting up the marks and helping the fleet. Thanks to Mike Derusha for providing trees. JD and Tom were instrumental in setting our racing courses. Thanks to Steve and Mary Jane Schalk in Fontana, WI for tabulating the scores.
The week started with just three Skeeter sailors getting together on Lake Mendota to sail before the ice went terrible. We chased ice, and we were lucky to find it in Menominee, where we experienced a club-racing-like atmosphere. We just happened to have a bunch of trophies to make it more fun. No one is in charge of the Wisconsin Skeeter Association. If there’s ice, the Wisconsin Skeeter Association racers will be there.
Get a close look and listen as Steve Orlebeke V500 and John Dennis U194 sail past Alex Peterson who shared this on Facebook. They were competing in the Wisconsin Skeeter Association Championship sailed on Lake Michigan at Menominee, Michigan, March 5-7, 2021. Alex and Rob Evans, both from Minnesota, are partners in the Class A Skeeter MERLIN. Rob sailed the DN Western Region regatta while Alex sailed the Skeeter. Stand by for more photos and a report from Ken Whitehorse about the 3 day event.
The Class A Skeeters raced on the first day of their Wisconsin Skeeter Association Championship at Menominee, Michigan on Friday, March 5th. As winner of the 4th race, John Dennis won the “Bottle Trophy.” Steve Orlebeke arrived last night and will be joining the Skeeter fleet racing today. At breakfast, the Skeeter guys said they had an excellent day of racing yesterday and were getting ready for another one.
Stolen from the 4LIYC Facebook page from Greg Whitehorse:
My Cousin Ken called me today and asked if I could help out on a project. He said I would have to use every bit of my accumulated knowledge gained by 31 years of being in the sign business. When I asked if it was a paying job (I recently retired and am now surviving on a fixed income) he quickly replied “Of course not”. Oh well. I decided to help anyway. It seems that the place which was formerly known as “the place where Paul and Ken worked on their boats”, was getting an official name.
When was the last time you clocked in at 100 mph in your sailboat when the breeze was a steady 15 knots? Not recently? Let’s chat with Harken Director of Engineering Steve Orlebeke. He brought his freaky fast Class A Skeeter and brand new DN into the factory to give you an inside look.
Here’s the link to the full video of Steve racing his Skeeter.
Minnesota sailors Rob Evans (standing) and Alex Peterson picked up Jim Gluek’s MERLIN Class A Skeeter from Wisconsin yesterday. Welcome to the fleet!
There goes another C-Class Skeeter ready for measuring and swage rigging. This one’s out East. Mike Acebo built the boat for George Nyssen, a Yankee and J14 skipper in Connecticut. Mike reports the Skeeter was a group effort. Bill Bucholz up in Maine made the mast, George made the springboard, plank, chocks, and seat, the Jeff Rogers of Airplane Plastics from the Midwest supplied the airplane canopy. Mike says, “the most important, Pat Heppert, for the fantastic plans and support. I know George will represent us well when all the pieces are together.”