In the annals of what-great-timing, iceboat sail maker (retired) and iceboating historian Henry Bossett recently sent this clipping about a model building contest in the 1930s Oshkosh, WI area. I forwarded the clipping to Lake Winnebago ice sailor Mike Peters. He replied, “I picked up another of the original model stern steers that were built in Oshkosh in the 1930s
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 Wisconsin Stern Steering Association annual regatta for 2022 has been cancelled due to lack of cooperation on the part of Mother Nature. Our last hope was Escanaba but a large amount of rain and snow is forecast for this week with potential for more rain next week. We will need a barge to get to the ice. Work on your boats this summer and check back late December 2022 for 2023 regatta info.
The 2022 Wisconsin Stern Steering Association regatta has been postponed to March 26 and 27. The next update will be Sunday, March 20. Check back here at that time.
Via WSSA Secretary/Treasurer Andy Gratton
The 2022 Wisconsin Stern Steerers Association Regatta has been postponed until March 19-20. Check back on Sunday, March 13 for the next update.
The Wisconsin Stern Steering Association regatta for 2022 has been tentatively called on for March 12 – 13. Final confirmation will be made by 1 PM Thursday, March 10. Check back here after that time. If the Northwest Ice Yacht Association has scheduled their regatta for the same weekend, that regatta takes precedence.
Via WSSA Secretary/Treasurer Andy Gratton
The 2022 Wisconsin Stern Steerers Association Regatta has been postponed until March 12-13.. Check back on Sunday, March 6 for the next update.
Via WSSA Secretary/Treasurer Andy Gratton:
The Wisconsin Stern Steering Association regatta for 2022 has been tentatively called on for March 5 and 6. Final confirmation will be made by 1 PM Thursday, March 3. Check back here after that time. If the Northwest Ice Yacht Association has scheduled their regatta for the same weekend, that regatta takes precedence.
The Wisconsin Stern Steering Association regatta has been postponed to March 5 – 6, 2022. The next update will be Sunday, February 27. Check back here at that time. The little bit of hail on Tuesday blew into rock hard humps up to 4″ tall on Green Lake and Winnebago, 1.5″ humps on Monona. Perhaps OK for cruising but not going straight and fast.
The Wisconsin Stern Steering Association regatta for 2022 has been tentatively called on for February 26 and 27. The Northwest Ice Yacht Association regatta will take precedence. The primary site is Lake Monona. Final confirmation will be made by 1 PM Thursday, February 24. Check back here after that time. There is snow expected on Thursday that may be too deep for DNs but OK for Stern Steerers.
WISCONSIN ICE BOATING HOTLINE 608-204-9876
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