Wisconsin Stern Steerers Association

Stern Steerers

Where it all began.


Modern hardware and improvements in aerodynamic rigs
have allowed today’s stern-steerer to easily outclass its ancestors.

Class A Stern Steerer

Class A Stern Steerers carry a sail area of over 600 square feet.

Class B Stern Steerer

Class B Stern Steerers carry a sail area between 450 to 650 square feet.

Class C Stern Steerer

Class C Stern Steerers carry a sail area between 350 to 450 square feet.

Class D Stern Steerer

Class D Stern Steerers carry a sail area less than 350 square feet.


Tradition-oriented skippers and crews maintain an active class organization.

Looking Forward

The renaissance of the big boats, especially the big A Boats,
is one of the best stories in our sport in recent years.

Garage Find

Ran across this photo on the Historic Madison, WI Photo Group’s Facebook page over the weekend. The photo was part of a collection that a group member found in her dad’s garage. It’s titled “Boat House U.W. Dec. 97” (as in 1897). In it we see a Madison style stern-steerer, designed and built by William Bernard on Lake Mendota near the University of Wisconsin boat house (which was torn down in the 1950s). The Bernard Boat House was just a quick sail down the lake from the university. Back then, university fraternities owned iceboats and iceboats could also be rented by the day from the Bernard Boat House. Below is a photo dated 2 years previous to the UW Boat House photo with an impressive line up of stern-steerers at Bernard’s Boat House.

“Dean’s RED ARROW” looks similar to the stern-steerer in the 1897 photo.

In The Throw-Back-Thursday News: Emil Fauerbach

Page from William Bernard Scrapbook. PRINCESS II, built by Wm. Bernard and sailed by Email Fauerbach.

A few days ago, 2 separate emails arrived within hours of each other regarding history about one of Madison’s original champion ice sailors, Emil Fauerbach. It was a sign that it’s time for a history post. Henry Bossett ran across an article about the Madison ice yachting scene published in 1904 the New Jersey Ashbury Park Press. Peter Fauerbach (Emil’s great great nephew) and all things Fauerbach historian, shared a snippet he found in his research. Emil Fauerbach was most famous for winning the Hearst Cup in 1914 in PRINCESS II. He died a few years later and left such a void in Madison’s ice sailing community that many thought it wouldn’t survive.
Previous: Fauerbach Pennant Back on Fauerbach Ice Boat


Wise iceboaters know that summer time means shop time.
Via Jay Davis, originally posted on the 4LIYC Facebook page:

Summer work project at Davis boat works in Iowa on Little Wind II. Repainting the bottom and sides. Also did some fixing on the trailer.

LITTLE WIND II, right side up at the 2013 Northwest Regatta, Green Lake, WI

Steve Arnold Photos: The Biggest of Planks

Bill Mattison builds the DEUCE runner plank c. 1980, from the Steve Arnold collection

Vintage ’80s

Bill Mattison with help from 4LIYC members built a new runner plank for the World’s Largest Iceboat©, the DEUCE, in the early 1980s in his Williamson St. shop. Luckily, we have photos that the late Steve Arnold took during that build. Twenty some years later, Bill supervised the lofting and building of DEUCE’s hull at Rick Hennig’s Cabbage Patch shop in Racine which culminated in a glue-party that attracted iceboaters from all over the Midwest who wanted to take part in that historic occasion. (Photos and stories documenting that build here.) I can’t think of a better time to repost Dave Elsmo’s classic video about the DEUCE, “54 Foot of Fast”, embedded below.


MICHIGANDER on Pewaukee Lake for the 2018 Wisconsin Stern Steerers Association championship.

The biannual magazine from the makers of  “what holds us together”, Gougeon’s (West Systems) Epoxy Works, highlights one of the finest Class A stern-steerers ever crafted, Eric Sawyer’s MICHIGANDER. Get a free print or digital subscription to the magazine here.

Regatta Watch: WSSA Cancelled For the Season

The season is over for the Wisconsin Stern Steerers Association. Here’s the Stern Steerer kid to help give the season a send-off.

Regrettably the Wisconsin Stern Steering Association regatta has been cancelled for this season. Perhaps there will be some early ice in December that might allow us to race for the 2019 season. In the meantime you have all summer to fix those nagging problems, or for some of us, to finish the new boat so it is ready for early ice. Keep your runners sharp!
Andy Gratton
WSSA Secretary/Treasurer

Regatta Watch: WSSA Postponed

ROSEMARY, skippered by Andy Gratton at the 2019 Northwest Regatta.            Photo: Pat Heppert

The Wisconsin Stern Steering Association regatta has been postponed to March 23 and 24, 2019. The next update will be Sunday, March 17. Check back here at that time.
Andy Gratton

WSSA Secretary/Treasurer

Monotype XV European Championship Conclusion


The European stern-steerer class, the Monotype XVs, concluded their European championship in Estonia on Thursday. The championship went to Russian sailors Oleg Vasilev and Ruslan Rudenko. Oleg has had a successful 2019 racing season, having placed 13th in the A fleet at the DN European championship in Poland this year.


Monotype XV European Championship

All boats and equipment are measured before the regatta.                       Photo: Jaak Nirgi

While North America’s Stern Steerers wait for regatta conditions, focus your attention to across the pond where the Monotype XV European Championship racing begins tomorrow on Lake Vortsjarv in Estonia. The boats arrived today for registration, equipment inspection, practice racing (no wind though) and the opening ceremony. Stern steerer sailors Mike Peters and Erich Schloemer made the trip over for a Monotype XV regatta several years ago and competed in a borrowed boat. Monotype XVs are the most popular one-design Stern Steerer class in Europe.
From the Monotype XV website: 

The Monotype-XV ice yacht was designed in 1932 by the legendary Erik von Holst of Estonia. It became popular in a very short time, and more than 200 yachts were built in but a few years. The yacht is a strict monotype construction; in broad outline, it looks the same as in the nineteen thirties. The structural elements are nowadays joined by modern methods and the use of epoxy adhesive. The bronze runners have been replaced by runners in stainless steel. The sail is of course made of Dacron or an equivalent material. The Monotype-XV is the largest monotype class in Europe today, and the only yacht for two for which European as well as international championships are arranged.

Data: Sail area 15 m2, length=7.5 m, width 4.2 m and mast height 7.2 m. Minimum weight 205 Kg. Crew 1-2 persons.  Read more.

Regatta Watch: WSSA Postponed

The Wisconsin Stern Steering Association regatta has been postponed to March 16 and 17, 2019. The next update will be Sunday, March 10. Check back here at that time. Still too much snow on the lakes though I heard Lake St. Claire might be good.

Andy Gratton
WSSA Secretary/Treasurer



W.S.S.A. dues are $20.00 and can be mailed to Andy Gratton at the following address:

c/o Andy Gratton, Secretary/Treasure
2102 Doty Street
Oshkosh, WI. 54902

***NOTICE*** Due to the high cost of “snail” mailing newsletters it is encouraged that you send in your $20 dues and an e-mail address. If not, your name MAY be removed from the mailing list. If you are no longer interested in receiving the newsletter please respond or email to Andy Gratton

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