A Brief Overview of Northwest Regatta History
Welcome to the home page of the Northwestern Ice Yacht Association Regatta. This historic regatta was first sailed in 1913 in Menominee, Michigan. Skeeters, DNs, and Renegades weren’t even invented back then when the big stern steerers ruled the ice.
Dateline January 13, 1913. Wisconsin State Journal. “Representatives of Oshkosh, Madison, Menominee, and Marinette met at the Hotel Menominee this morning and discussed future of the new NIYA….. LF Porter, of Madison, a man who has been connected with several water and ice craft organizations, gave some timely and instructive suggestions in regard to the proper manner of conducting the association. He proposed having two delegates from each club present at a future gathering and from a constitution and by laws at that time.”
In 1913, Menominee skipper E. Peterson won the first Class A championship in “Square People”. Madison, Wisconsin’s Emil Fauerbach won the 1914 championship in the famed Princess II, a boat that went on the win the Hearst International Trophy.
Other notable Class A winners throughout the years include John Buckstaff of Oshkosh, Fritz Jungbluth and Carl Bernard of Madison in the Fritz, Harry Melges of Lake Geneva (Buddy’s father), Carl Bernard again in the Mary B, the Debutante currently owned by Mike Derusha, and Buddy Melges in his Ferdinand the Bull. The DNs were first recognized as a separate class in 1954 when Skip Boston won the inaugural NIYA DN championship. Other notable DN champions include William Sarns in 1956, Jane Pegel who first won in 1960 and went on to capture another nine championships. Class E Skeeters first raced the NIYA in 1936 when Lake Geneva sailor Harry Melges won in Mickey Finn. Elmer Millenbach took the 1949 trophy sailing his Renegade II back when the Renegades and Skeeters sailed together. Other famous ice boating names who’ve won the NIYA Class E championship include Bill Perrigo, Howard Boston, Frank Trost, Jack Ripp, Dave Rosten, Bill Mattison, Lou Loenneke, Buddy Melges, Bob Pegel, and Paul Krueger. The Renegades first raced in the NIYA as a recognized class in 1958 and of course, Mr. Ice Boat, Elmer Millenbach won his first of many NIYA Renegade Championships in Renegade III and went on to win every regatta until 1984. Other winners include Arlyn Lafortune, Lorne Sherry, Jack Ripp, Tim McCormick, Roger Derusha, Don Anderson, and Mike Derusha.
Via Mary Jane Schalk, Fontana, WI
Hey Ice boat racers,
I just want to thank all of you for so many years of helping me with one of the coolest things I have ever done. We have all been through so much together.
I think I started scoring ice boat regatta’s back in the 90’s. Remember way back then and I did all the tabulating with a pencil and a very long sheet of paper. There were some interesting stories and memorable situations back then! It took a while but so worth it to graduate into computer scoring.
I had so many great people to work with. First of all many of you sailors were my callers, and then I had Renate Intini, Julie Jankowski, and then Deb to work with. As you know Deb and I had some pretty good and crazy times together. We could figure out ways to entertain ourselves during a postponement, and had way more fun that we probably should have!!! Thanks Deb for all the fun times. I would also like to thank Shari Lundberg for teaching me in the beginning all about scoring and tabulating.
I stopped scoring from the ice to help take care of my mom and then we had so many cats that needed care like insulin shots twice a day, fluid under the skin, and medicine that – that kept me from coming back. But I was then able to do the tabulating from home.
I was still a helper by arranging hotels, banquets, and meetings for regattas. I drew for your starting positions from home and called them into Deb. Deb would take a picture of your finishes and call them in or send them to me. Now with me being able to post to the web page on a good day I could score the race and get it posted before the last finisher got out of his boat. That is way cool.
But I am ready for some time away. I have lots of plans for some fun activities while the regattas are on. Maybe I’ll just go down and visit some other retired ice boaters like Gary and Kenny Kessler. Now that would be fun!!! Deb asked one of the DN tabulators, Ann Foeller of the Toledo Ice Yacht Club, if she would score the ISA and NW regattas and she agreed. I wouldn’t leave without a replacement.
I am so happy to have met so many really cool and fun ice boaters. We have had lots of fun times, and made great memories. I can hardly wait for a regatta to come to Geneva Lake, as then I can hang with you all on the ice, and not be stuck at home in front of the computer.
Have fun everyone, be careful on the ice, and sail fast,
BTW I am sharing my favorite version of Steve’s iceboat song. I’d say it a pretty good one! LINK
Via Jane Pegel:
Mary Jane was a significant member of the Lake Geneva YC race committee. She also is a competitive sailor. She handled the front end of Steve’s E scow and his J-24.
She trimmed jib on my class M scow and helped me win Inland Lake YA championships and Blue Chips. She is no doubt, an exceptional woman who is happy to be “involved”.
Mary Jane Schalk has been a crucial part of North American iceboating racing, and she’s decided to take a well-earned retirement. You may have seen her smiling face on the ice of Lake Geneva, but she was deeply involved behind the scenes in every Northwest, ISA, Renegade, and many Nite regattas for 30 years. She took care of numerous organizational details so that you ice sailors could book a room, attend a banquet, see your regatta scores, receive your trophies, and pursue your passion for iceboat racing.
MJ and I share many good memories. One of my best was driving on Geneva back to the Fontana landing towards the sunset. We were singing a silly, fun song at the top of our lungs that we had made up about the late Renegade sailor, Arlyn Lafortune, to the marching chant O-Ee-Yah! Eoh-Ah from the Wizard of Oz. (Yeah, you had to be there…) We both probably enjoyed too much red wine later that night but were always ready for the next day. I know she’ll continue to be the first person I call when I have a funny story to share. – Deb Whitehorse
Northwest Home Page
2023 Northwest Race Documents, via Northwest Ice Yacht Association Secretary/Treasurer Steve Schalk
The Northwest regatta is tentatively scheduled for January 20, 21, and 22, 2023. Stay tuned for the next update on Sunday, January 15, 2023 by 8 PM.
Ice Yacht classes that sail the Northwest:
A Stern Steerer
B Stern Steerer
C Stern Steerer
D Stern Steerer
John Buckstaff Archives
If iceboating had a hall of fame, Lake Winnebago sailor, John Buckstaff would undoubtedly be among the first to be nominated. Buckstaff’s Oshkosh roots go back to his grandfather, who was born in 1799 and came from New Brunswick, Canada, to Oshkosh in 1850 and started a sawmill.
An early mention of Buckstaff in the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern newspaper was in 1903, when he was 14 years old and recognized as a skilled scow sailor. “His first experience was gained, when as a boy in knickerbockers, he constructed an iceboat and sailed it on the frozen surface of Lake Winnebago. Here he learned to be quick and certain with the tiller and to handle the sail and tack.”
Buckstaff was in Menominee, Michigan, when the Menominee, Marinette, Wisconsin, and Oshkosh ice yacht clubs formed Northwest Ice Yachting Association in 1913. The morning after a banquet at the Hotel Menominee, where 200 ice yachtsmen gathered for a feast, they organized the Northwest, which they patterned after the Inland Lake Yachting Association, a soft-water scow regatta still going strong today.
In addition to his Northwest victories, Buckstaff won two prestigious stern-steerer titles, the Stuart and Hearst Cups. In 1903, The Kalamazoo Ice Yacht Club in Michigan persuaded F.A. Stuart, maker of Stuart’s Dyspeptic pills, to donate a trophy for ice yachts carrying 850 square feet of sail or less. Later that year, a Kalamazoo club member wired newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, asking Hearst if he would donate a trophy, in his name, for the ice boat race. Hearst complied and deeded a gold-lined silver cup.
Buckstaff was a stern-steerer man and would point BLUE BILL, FLYING DUTCHMAN, DEBUTANTE III to victory on the ice at the Stuart, Hearst, and Northwest regattas. FLYING DUTCHMAN has remained on her home lake of Lake Winnebago with Dave Lallier. DEBUTANTE III is in Menominee with Mike Derusha.
DEBUTANTE III was a Hudson River-style stern-steerer built in the famed Poughkeepsie, New York iceboat shop of Jacob Buckhought. The “DEB” with 600 square feet of sail was considered the most lightweight iceboat in the world per square foot of sail carried. DEB was the first iceboat to use aluminum runners, a much superior material than the cast iron runners traditionally used. The Oshkosh Daily Northwestern reported that the “DEB” held a speed record of 119 miles per hour clocked on Gull Lake in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
John Buckstaff passed away on the morning of Sunday, January 10, 1960, the weekend when the iceboating community gathered on Lake Winnebago for the Northwest, the regatta he had helped to begin. In a movie-like ending, DEBUTANTE III, skippered by E.W. Stroshine, won the Class A championship trophy that same day.
Northwest Class A Stern Steerer
1923 BLUE BILL, J. D. Buckstaff
1926 BLUE BILL, J. D. Buckstaff
1939 BLUE BILL II, John Buckstaff, Owner; Tom Anger, Skipper
1932 (December) FLYING DUTCHMAN, OIYC, J. C. Van Dyke, J. D. Buckstaff (skippers)
1920 DEBUTANTE III, OIYC, J. D. Buckstaff
1939 DEBUTANTE III, OIYC, J. D. Buckstaff
The Northwestern Ice Yachting Regatta is cancelled for 2022. We have no viable locations left.
Via NIYA Secretary/Treasurer Steve Schalk:
The Northwestern Ice Yachting Regatta is postponed to March 25-27, 2022. Possible locations will be identified and announced Sunday., March 20.
Via Northwest Secretary/Treasurer Steve Schalk:
The Northwestern Ice Yachting Regatta is Postponed to March 18-20, 2022.
There are still locations with thick ice that just need smoothing out of old drifts and bumps. Next update Sunday, March 13.
Via Northwest Secretary/Treasurer Steve Schalk:
The 2022 Northwestern Ice Yachting Association Regatta is on for March 11, 12, 13, 2022. Potential locations are Green Lake, Madison, and Petenwell Lake.
The final call will take place Wednesday March 9, 2022 before noon CT.
Via NIYA Secretary/Treasurer Steve Schalk
The Northwest Regatta is postponed to March 11 – 13, 2022.
We have 20 to 24 inches of ice in several locations. Mother Nature’s Zamboni is taking over the ice for this weekend and may leave us with regatta conditions for March 11th. Next update is Sunday, March 6, 2022.
Via Northwest Ice Yacht Racing Association Secretary/Treasurer Steve Schalk:
The 2022 Northwestern Ice Yachting Association Regatta has been called on for March 4-6. Locations under consideration are Wisconsin or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Final confirmation with location will be on Wednesday, March 2, 2022 by noon CT.
The Northwest is a 3 day regatta for A,B,C, and D Stern-Steerers, DNs, A, B, and C Skeeters, and Renegades.
Via NIYA Secretary/Treasurer Steve Schalk:
The Northwestern Ice Yachting Association Regatta is postponed to March 4-6, 2022. Next update will be on Sunday, February 27, 2022
Via Northwest Secretary/Treasurer Steve Schalk:
The 2022 Northwestern Ice Yachting Association Regatta is called on with the primary site in Lake Monona, Wisconsin, February 25 – 27. Secondary sites are Geneva Lake and Green Lake Wisconsin.
The first race is scheduled Friday, February 25, 2022.
Final confirmation will be made by noon Wednesday, February 23, 2022.
Northwest races will be held for Class A, B, C, D, E, Renegade, and DN.
Via Northwest Secretary Steve Schalk
The 2022 Northwest Ice Yachting Association championship regatta has been postponed until February 11-13, 2022. There is not enough space for the Northwest at Marinette/Menominee. Next update is Sunday, February 6, 2022.
Regatta Watch: ISA, Renegade Championship, & Northwest Tentatively Called ON for Marinette/Menominee
Via ISA/NIYA Secretary Steve Schalk.
The 2022 Northwest, Renegade Championship, and ISA regattas are on for Marinette/Menominee for February 4-6, 2022. The call is tentative based on acquiring more “on the ice” information on Monday and or Tuesday as to thickness and race area. The landings are already thick enough but the thickness in the racing area – and the size available need to be checked. If there is not enough thickness in the racing area for the Big Boats (Stern Steerers) but there is for Skeeters, the ISA would be held and the NIYA postponed.
Via ISA & Secretary Steve Schalk:
The NIYA is postponed to February 4, 5th and 6th 2022.
The ISA & Renegade Championship is on for Green Lake for January 28th, 29th and 30th 2022. Final call by noon on Wednesday January 26th, 2022.
Via Northwest Ice Yachting Association Secretary Steve Schalk:
The NIYA regatta is postponed until January 28-30, 2022 to wait for ice thickness to build in several locations. Mendota is close but not quite there. Next update is Sunday, January 23, 2022.
Via Northwest Ice Yacht Racing Association Secretary Steve Schalk:
The Northwest Regatta has been postponed until January 21-23, 2022. Next update will be on Sunday, January 16, 2022.
Northwest Ice Yachting Association Secretary Steve Schalk has shared the 2022 Northwest Regatta Notice of Race. See it here.
Read: Oshkosh Ice Boat Club History & 1939 Northwest History by Harry Lund
All-around iceboater Andy Gratton let me borrow a rich archive of iceboat ephemera, photos, and records from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. As anyone who researches history can tell you, the information in libraries like this is filled with rabbit holes that lead you to unforeseen places, always different than what you originally intended.
A report written in 1939 by Harry Lund about the history of the Oshkosh Ice Yacht Club led me to the 1940 Northwest regatta. The regatta was sailed on Geneva Lake in Lake Geneva, WI. It was the first time a Class A Skeeter, Jack Vilas in SUSIE Q, won the ten-lap Northwest “Free For All” race, where the winner is awarded one of the most beautiful trophies in our sport.
The Northwest began in 1913, and the Free For All was the last race of the regatta to compare the speeds of the different classes of stern-steerers. The top two finishers in Class A, B, C, and D stern-steerers were eligible to race for the trophy. 1933 marked the first time the Skeeter class competed in the Northwest, and it only took them seven years to take the Free For All trophy from the stern-steerer class. The Skeeter class has continued their dominance of that race to the present day; Minnesota’s John Dennis is the current titleholder. Thinking about that day in 1940 when Jack Vilas in SUSIE Q became the first bow-steering boat to take home the big cup reminded me of National Sailing Hall of Fame member Jan Gougeon.
Back on Lake Geneva in 1981, Jan gamely lined up his DN with the Class A Skeeters of Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club’s Paul Krueger and Bill Mattison for the ten-lap finale. “It was a scary situation for Bill and me,” Paul recalled. “Jan didn’t realize how fast Bill and I were making the mark. To avoid him, I had to hit the mark, and Bill went to the outside.” From then on, DN sailors who qualified and wanted to compete in the race were allowed to borrow a Class A Skeeter. Jan’s good friend, Ron Sherry, won the 1997 race in a Class A Skeeter he borrowed from 4LIYC’s Bob Kau. (Interesting how Lake Geneva is where Northwest Free-For-All History has been made in 1940, 1981, and 1997!) Ron’s account of that race is a classic story, worthy of another good future post.