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.

Regatta Watch: 2021 WSSA Postponed Until Feb 6-7

Andy Gratton and the lovely ROSEMARY on Lake Winnebago  Photo: Gretchen Dorian

Via WSSA Secretary Andy Gratton:

The Wisconsin Stern Steering Association regatta has been postponed to February 6 and 7, 2021. The next update will be Sunday, January 31. Check back here at that time.

Andy Gratton

WSSA Secretary/Treasurer

Big Boats on Geneva Part 2

Here’s the last “missing” installment from this series of videos. In this video, you’ll see how to wrangle a stern-steerer through the open water at the shoreline, typical of spring ice sailing.

Many thanks to 4LIYC Nite sailor Don Sanford for taking the time to find the nuggets in old movie footage and editing them into something worth watching.
Previous: Big Boats on Geneva Part 1.
Big Boats on Geneva Part 3

 

That Time On Little Bay de Noc

An example of a lateen rigged stern-steerer with an A-frame style mast.

Wisconsin Stern-Steerer Association Secretary Andy Gratton passed along this story from Steve Maniaci of Michigan about Little Bay de Noc and a stern-steerer with an unusual mast.

That capsizing photo (see “Who Did It Better?“) brings back memories on Little Bay de Noc, back in January of ‘69. My girlfriend and I were in my dad’s four-place stern steerer, going east and west along the leeward south shore of Gladstone’s waterfront with a strong north wind. Things were going well until I went beyond the power plant point and caught the full broadside blast of wind coming unimpeded from Rapid River.

 

We went up and over in a heartbeat. Thankfully, my girlfriend was wearing an insulated snowmobile suit that cushioned the blow. I was never so thankful for my old motorcycle helmet as that day.

 

I don’t know what the technical name is for that type of mast. We just called it a wishbone mast. The two parts of the wishbone were anchored to a metal bracket on the cross plank and were quite a ways out towards the runners. They came together with a metal bracket that held a large pulley for the mainsail halyard. The masts leaned forward and were held in place by two metal bars anchored to the nose bracket that also anchored the guy cables to the plank to the nose.

 

My dad bought it in the mid-’60s from Atley Peterson, an old Swede from Escanaba. Atley and his family built it, and he said they had clocked it at 90 mph back in the ’40s. The solid wood beam that makes up the body that everything attaches to has weakened with age and is no longer safe. The last time I sailed, it was on Little Traverse Bay in the late ’80s.

 

Iceboating is exciting and exhilarating, but it is so loud. I much prefer sailing my Boston Whaler Harpoon 5.

Big Boats on Geneva Part 3

More thrills and spins from the Class A Johnson Stern-Steerers on Geneva Lake. On Facebook, Fond du Lac sailor, Dave Lallier, commented that “According to what both Chauncey Griggs and Sid Morgan told me, there were several new Johnson Class A boats delivered to Lake Geneva by train. They were a gift for Christmas. These could be from that batch.”

Many thanks to 4LIYC Nite sailor Don Sanford for taking the time to find the nuggets in old movie footage and editing them into something worth watching.
Previous: Big Boats on Geneva Part 1.

Regatta Watch: 2021 WSSA Postponed to January 30-31

Toledo Ice Yacht Club’s Jim Stribrny tests the limits of his Class A Stern-Steerer at the 2013 Northwest Regatta. For the record, WILD GOOSE landed back on the ice just fine.

Via WSSA Secretary Andy Gratton:

The Wisconsin Stern Steering Association regatta has been postponed to January 30 and 31, 2021. The next update will be Sunday, January 24. Check back here at that time.

Thanks for leaving the freezer doors open, the cold air is arriving. If you capsize, try to do better than both Don Ward and American Magic (see iceboat.org for more details).

Andy Gratton

WSSA Secretary/Treasurer

Who Did It Better?

The iceboating community has been paying attention to the America’s Cup racing in New Zealand. We know that this year’s crop of foiling AC boats sometimes behaves like Stern-Steerers, and yesterday’s dramatic capsize is fodder for the commentariat around the planet. 4LIYC Commodore Don Anderson called me this morning. He suggested a comparison graphic between AMERICAN MAGIC and a Stern-Steerer, both about to capsize, which brought to mind the famous video and story about “The Day the Rosemary Tipped Over.” Thankfully, AMERICAN MAGIC’S crew safely survived the capsize though the boat sustained damage.  (Maybe they ought to think about a front-steering AC boat?)
Here’s the video embedded below, along with a link to Andy Gratton’s story. It’s also an excellent time to revisit when the Baker company tested foiling boats on Lake Mendota in the 1950s. Reread Foiled Again, initially posted in 2017.

Read Andy Gratton’s story, The Day The ROSEMARY Tipped Over.” Somewhere, Don Ward must be smiling.

 

Big Boats on Geneva Part 1

Many thanks to 4LIYC Nite sailor Don Sanford for taking the time to find the nuggets in old movie footage and editing them into something worth watching. It’s Sunday morning, let’s go hiking on Geneva Lake in Wisconsin! I’ll upload the second part tomorrow.

 

Regatta Watch: WSSA Postponed to Jan 23-24

Class C Stern Steerer: TWIN BEDS Peter McCormick   Photo: Gretchen Dorian

The Wisconsin Stern Steering Association regatta has been postponed to January 23 and 24, 2021. The next update will be Sunday, January 17. Check back here at that time.

We still need more cold air, so get your friends to leave their freezer open, too.

Andy Gratton

WSSA Secretary/Treasurer

Regatta Watch: 2021 WI Stern-Steerers Championship Postponed

The Wisconsin Stern Steering Association regatta has been postponed to January 16 and 17, 2021. The next update will be Sunday, January 10. Check back here at that time.

We need more cold air, so if everyone leaves their freezer open it may help grow ice thickness on the lakes. This would be easier than making lighter boats.

Andy Gratton
WSSA Secretary/Treasurer

Meet DORLA

1922 Madison Winter Carnival on Lake Monona. Photo courtesy Marv Luck.

The 1922 photo above is difficult to write about because there is so much history captured at that moment. Pictures like this can send one down a never-ending rabbit hole of history. It’s tough to stick to one topic when there are so many presented in this photo, such as Madison’s history, the history of each boat and skipper, and the differences between the Hudson River and Madison styles of Stern-Steerer. For this post, I’ll try to stick to the subject of DORLA.

A 4LIYC Facebook member in Madison recently asked about the Stern-Steerer DORLA because her family had a connection to the boat. Marv Luck of Oshkosh, who knows the big ships’ history better than anyone, noticed the request and handed me a couple of 8 x 10 photos of DORLA last weekend at the Puckaway Nite and Renegade regatta.

DORLA was owned initially by Henry Meyer of Pewaukee, WI. I’m not sure who built DORLA, but I would guess John Buckstaff of Oshkosh, WI. (Marv can correct me if I’m wrong.) The Meyer family was heavily involved in ice sailing in the first half of the 20th century, and Henry served as Secretary and Treasurer of the Northwest for several years.

The newspaper reports about the 1922 Madison Winter Carnival don’t mention DORLA, but that’s undoubtedly her in the photo because the picture came from the Meyer family. The Capital Times reported on February 3, 1922, “…to make the ice boat races a feature of the Carnival, the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club has received acceptances of a challenge from the Ice Yacht Clubs at Pewaukee, Oconomowoc and Oshkosh. Several Hudson River types of ice boats will be in the fleet of boats from Pewaukee and Oconomowoc. Suitable trophies consisting of cups and pennants will be awarded the three winning boats: in three different classes.”

Henry Meyer and DORLA won three Class A Stern-Steerer titles in the Northwest Regatta in 1928, 1930, and 1931 and the Hearst Trophy in 1931 and 1932. I have found no mention of DORLA until 1947.

In 1947, DORLA appeared again in a Wisconsin State Journal report about the Northwest. She had become part of the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club Stern-Steerer fleet and was owned by O. T. Havey and sailed by Phil Oetking. In 1948, the same newspaper reported that Havey’s boat had placed second in the Northwest regatta under a new name ELECTRA. Of course, Havey gained fame as the man who commissioned the MARY B Class A Stern Steerer. In 1956, the boat was called DORLA again with a new owner, 4LIYC member Johnny Adams.

DORLA might have ended up with the same fate as so many old Stern-Steerers, quietly decaying in a barn until put on a burn pile by people who had no idea of her regatta titles and rich history.

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

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