WSSA

Wisconsin Stern Steerers Association

Stern Steerers

Where it all began.

Innovation

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

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.

One More Model: ACE OF SPADE


Previous: Super Models

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 7, 2020: Mike Butler corrects the record:“Just a couple of corrections. The boats name is really the Ace of Spade. Not sure why that was. It was not built for my dad. Connie Korsmo built it for my great uncle Ray Butler who worked with Connie at Madison Kipp. This would have been around 1935. Ray gave it to my dad after the war.

He built the new hull, that Mike has now, in the 50’s after he boom jibed the boat and damaged the hull.
The attached photos are of the original hull. I still have the blueprint of that boat. Jack Ripp took the photos.
Jack took a lot of photos over the years and I got together with Jack and dad shortly before he died. Spent an afternoon going over lots of Jack’s pictures. Hopefully someone still has them.”

Peter Fauerbach noted that Connie Korsma was the chief engineer at Madison Kipp Corporation. “The Kipp” as it’s often called here produces machined die castings and has been in operation since 1898.

Here’s another beautiful iceboat model from Mike Butler up in Oshkosh, WI of his dad Dave’s C Class Stern-Steerer ACE OF SPADES. When Jerry Simon asked the late Jack Ripp about the boat’s lineage, Jack told him Connie Korsmo, who worked at Madison Kipp, built 2 Hudson River style C Class Stern-Steerers, one for himself and the other for Dave’s uncle, Ray Butler,  Sometime later, Dave added a new cockpit backbone, likely for comfort. Dave Butler was a life long 4LIYC member who served as a officer and was inducted into the 4LIYC Honor roll in 2012.

And the ACE OF SPADES? Just look for the bright orange/red stern-steerer at any regatta. She’s currently owned by Mike Peters.

 

 

ACE OF SPADES, Mike Peter’s C Class Stern Steerer at the 2019 Northwest on Lake Pepin. Photo: Pat Heppert

 

Privates of 1890 Idaho

Museum of North Idaho photo

A soldier who missed sailing his iceboat back east must have been stationed at Fort Sherman, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho back in 1890.  Wonder if Lake CDA freezes like that now? Via the Museum of North Idaho:

HAPPY NATIONAL RIDE THE WIND DAY! Sailing Lake CDA isn’t just for the summer. In this photo (circa 1890) Fort Sherman soldiers are ice boating and skating on Lake Coeur d’Alene! That is Tubbs Hill in background. George Donovan, 4th Inft. band from Fort Sherman may have been a member of the skating party.

Model B

Johnson Boatworks B Class Stern steerer model c 1930

Previous: Minneapolis Play Week
Last week, Jim Gluek shared some family history about his grandfather who raced a Johnson Boatworks-built B Class Stern-Steerer in Minneapolis. Jim has found the perfect place to display the trophy, right next to the model of the stern-steerer that likely dates from around the 1920s.

Jim’s grandfather’s model is a good excuse to take another look at the world of iceboat models which have become highly prized collector pieces. Below are photos of William Bernard and son Carl’s models. (The Bernard Boathouse on Lake Mendota is where iceboat racing began in Madison.) The Wisconsin State Historical Society has a Bernard model iceboat in its collection that Bill Mattison has restored twice. Let us know if you have a model iceboat!

Minneapolis Play Week


Jim Gluek (Skeeter, DN, and Nite class) came across some family history in the form of this  vintage trophy won by his grandfather back in 1927 on Lake Minnetonka. Jim’s grandfather raced a Johnson Boatworks-built B Class Stern Steerer. Jim also mentioned that when conditions are right on Minnetonka, Harry Allen rigs up his vintage B Class Johnson stern-steerer and takes it through the paces. (What iceboater wouldn’t want a shirt with that beautifully designed graphic?)

The Johnson Boatworks was founded by John O. Johnson in 1896 on White Bear Lake in Minnesota. In addition to building iceboats, Johnson was instrumental in scow and other soft water designs. (Johnson Boatworks is now known as White Bear Boatworks. )

More History: “Old ice boats: not for faint of heart”

 

Johnson Stern-Steerers have been featured over the years here on iceboat.org. This picture dates from 2013 when Fond du Lac iceboaters Dave and Jeff Lallier gave their then 84 year-old mother a ride in a Johnson B. Note the “banana” spar.

Who was MARY B?

MARY B draws a crowd on Lake Monona in 1952

The Dane County Historical Society Newsletter has published an article by our own Don Sanford about the historic stern-steerer MARY B.

The Mary B was fast, really fast, but just who or what was she? A racehorse, a track star, or maybe a downhill skier? None of the above, she was an iceboat…She was the dream of one of Madison’s largest electrical contractors and public-spirited citizens, Orvin “OT” Havey.

Read the whole story here.

The DEBUTANTE: The Derusha Interviews

Around 1915, the Van Camp brothers of Oshkosh, WI wanted to compete for the most prestigious ice sailing trophies of the day. They looked to the east coast and commissioned a top-notch Class A stern steerer. The DEBUTANTE was built by Jacob Buckhout of Poughkeepsie, New York, the most renowned ice yacht builder of the Hudson River style during that time. An first class racing ice yacht needed a corresponding helmsman and the Van Camps called on Oshkosh’s John Buckstaff to take the tiller. The DEBUTANTE won the Stuart trophy in 1920 and 1939 with “Bucky” in the driver’s seat. (The “DEB” also won the 1960 Northwest Class A trophy with Bud Stroshine.)

In 1963, Roger Derusha of Menominee, MI bought the DEBUTANTE in from the Van Camps. Roger was an influential Renegade sailor and passed on in 1999. The “DEB” is still in Menominee, MI with Roger’s son, Renegader and DNer Mike Derusha.

This video combines two interviews from the 1980s. The first interview is Greg Siebold with Roger and Mike. The second interview takes us to a workshop at Marinette Marine where Mike Peters and Steve Buch interviewed Roger at length about the DEBUTANTE. Apologies for the quality and poor aspect ratio of the videos but we are lucky to have them.

The DEBUTANTE with Carl Bernard, Camp Van Dyke, John Buckstaff, and Andy Flom.

 

“Just Something We Had to Do”: Lake Winnebago Guys Talk Ice

Life’s slower pace has motivated me to finally tackle a big project – converting the many ice sailing DVDs that have been given to me into a format suited for the internet. Here’s one of the first, an interview with the late “Nubs” Salzsieder, Mike Peters, and Andy Gratton (and Andy’s young daughter) on Lake Winnebago. Andy bought the WISCONSIN from someone in Lake Mills, WI in 1994 which helps to date the video.

 

1952 Hearst on Lake Monona

MARY B draws a crowd on Lake Monona.  Photos: Earl W Brown

In January 1952, Lake Monona delivered and the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club hosted the Northwest regatta and the Hearst Challenge. (The Hearst trophy was donated in 1903 by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst.) Lake Monona in the 1950s could be counted upon for sailable ice thanks to the soot pollution from the coal burning power plant on its northeastern shore. The downside for the Skeeters was that the coal dust very quickly dulled runners. Perhaps the coal cinders didn’t affect the big iron of the Stern-Steerer runners.

The three majestic Class A Stern Steerers that competed for the Hearst that year were 2 4LIYC boats and 1 from Oshkosh including the MARY B owned by O. T. Havey and skippered by Carl Bernard with crew Norm Braith and Charlie Johnson; FRITZ owned and sailed by Jim Lunder with Beauford Polglase; and FLYING DUTCHMEN owned by John Buckstaff of Oshkosh, WI and skippered by  Chuck Nevitt with crew Bud McDonald. MARY B was able to defend her title that year.The excitement of the regatta drew crowds and prompted the 4LIYC to set up a public address system at Law Park. Someone provided a play by play account during the racing.

These historic ice yachts are still with us today. Current owner of the FLYING DUTCHMEN, Dave Lallier in Fond du Lac, reminded me that FLYING DUTCHMEN is the correct name of the boat, not DUTCHMAN. The Van Dyke brothers from Milwaukee commissioned the FLYING DUTCHMEN in the 1930s, hence the plural designation. MARY B is back in Madison and owned by the Ice Boat Foundation while FRITZ is owned by Fred Stritt and is available for sale.

These color slides were originally posted on the Historic Madison, WI Photo Group Facebook page by the granddaughter of Earl W. Brown, the man who took them.

Meet CLANCY

CLANCY on Lake Monona near Law Park in Madison, WI c.1952

Craig Wilson found the above photo while looking through his dad J. Dale Wilson’s slide collection. (Craig is the aerial kite photographer who has been snapping our pictures for many years. See some of his work here on Flickr.) Craig figures the slide dates from around 1952 or 1953 and wondered if we knew anything about the yellow stern-steerer. I sent it off to Andy Gratton, Mike Peters, and Don Sanford.  Here’s what the collective stern steerer history brain trust found:

Via Don Sanford:
The gods of iceboating must be sending me a message…..

I believe that this is the Clancy. She was owned by the Oetking family. See page 81 of “the book” (mine). [On Fourth Lake]

I have been on the trail of these folks for years and during the past six weeks (pandemic) I had a chance to plow through the internet, sailing websites, and obits. This is a family of sailors. Last week, I finally connected with Curt Oetking. (Who also goes by “Pete.”) His dad, Pete, crewed for Carl [Bernard] on the MARY B in a few regattas.

I sent him a photo of the Clancy that Jay Payton gave me several years ago. He sent this message:

“Clancy which was my mother Clare’s nickname…..”

Armed with that info, I looked in the Bernard Slide index and found several entries that mention either “Clancy” or Oetking. Somewhere I have a statement that the Clancy was a scaled-down version of the MARY B. Andy [Gratton] told me that he knows where she is now.

As for the photo, I believe that this was taken on Lake Monona, just off Law Park. it’s the only place on either lake where cars can park that close to the water.

WSSA Secretary/Treasurer Andy Gratton reports that Clancy is still around and in the care of Jim Rettke in Marinette who has owned it at least 35 years or more.

CLANCY in front of the Ray Stroud residence on Farwell Drive in Maple Bluff, Madison, WI.

 

CLANCY from the Carl Bernard Slide collection.

Picture of the Day: Pewaukee Northwest 1973

Photo by Gary Whitehorse. That’s a lot of horsepower! Stern steerer iceboats start on race at the Northwest regatta which took place on February 2-4, 1973 on Pewaukee Lake in Wisconsin.

UPDATE: The photo was originally taken by Gary Whitehorse and uploaded to the 4LIYC Facebook page.
Peter McCormick (via Andy Gratton) forwarded this picture to the iceboat.org inbox this week wanting to confirm if these stern-steerers were on Pewaukee Lake and when this regatta took place. I started looking into the files and realized that I was there with my brother and dad, Dave Rosten and that my Dad won the Class A Skeeter trophy. Another 4LIYC skipper, Peter’s dad Bill McCormick, won the C Stern Steerer trophy that year as well.
If you have any information on the stern-steerers or the regatta you’d like to share, please drop a line. debwhitehorse@iceboat.org

UPDATE: 30 April:
“I was 16 years old at the time and won the DN junior trophy. Chuck Miller was racing a DN in the regatta called “Chicken Little.” He got a big kick out of racing against me in the regatta. Ever since that time I always felt that Chuck Miller was a really nice guy, someone who really loved his sailing and iceboating.”
Susie Pegel, formerly DN 905

Andy Gratton, WSSA Secretary: “Max Runge sent me this old photo. …There are some boats I don’t recognize, such as the C skeeter, the black mast, the yellow mast, B9, and what appears to be a round backbone second from the far end. V83 is the D skeeter that got turned around and ended up in Fond du Lac in the 1980s with Herb Bankstahl. He named it  FIDDLESTIX, I think it came from Sternkopfs. Who is pushing ROSEMARY?”

Peter McCormick, stern steerer (TWINBEDS) and Renegade sailor: “I remember my dad [Bill McCormick] telling me how he took TWINBEDS to Pewaukee on a lumber truck for either a Northwest or WSSA regatta.”

UPDATE:
Tom Hyslop: “Not sure about the lake or the year as some of the Pewaukee boats were not built until the late 70`s.
B9 was CLANCY owned by John Olson.
V83 was a Sternkoph boat.
Yellow mast with red V is COUNTRY WOMAN owned by me.
Black mast with V is ECLIPSE owned by Ric Sternkoph and Mike Hasse.”

1973 Northwest Results
STERN STEERERS
Class A: No Race
Class B: CLANCY, John Olson
Class C: TWIN BEDS, Bill McCormick
Class D: DEE WHIZ, Bill Osenga

Skeeter Class A: Dave Rosten, PIRATE
FREE FOR ALL: No Race
DN Class: George Timmons
DN Class Junior: Susie Pegel
Renegade Class: Elmer Millenbach RENEGADE III

Contact

WISCONSIN ICE BOATING HOTLINE 608-204-9876

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

W.S.S.A.
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

%d bloggers like this: