Members of Michigan’s Gull Lake Ice Yacht Club recently gathered to assess a vintage Stern-Steerer iceboat’s condition. They hope to see her sail again and are taking it on as a club project.
She sailed many years and had been idle, we think, since the late ’90s. Our past Commodore Randy Johnson, may his memory be eternal, was the last caretaker of the Stern-Steerer. She did not possess a name. Our Gull Lake Ice Yacht Club named her upon receiving her as the next caretakers in her lineage. It seemed appropriate to name her GULL of Gull Lake. We look forward to letting her soar on home ice once again. We plan to clean and refinish both the hardware and the woodwork. All the parts are there and in solid shape. We will only swap out some steel turnbuckle adjusters that look to have gone beyond their lifetime for safety. I do not have a photo of her sail yet, which is inside our current Commodore’s home for safekeeping. I will post more photos when the weather allows us to unfurl the sail. She sailed, and we don’t know if she ever raced. Some incoming comments seem to say she shared ice in the Toledo area. We have a trailer project started. We plan to bring her to the ice wherever it may show….. maybe Fort Peck?
Peter Sarelis, Gull Lake Ice Yacht Club, Michigan
Ashwaubenon, WI iceboater Jay Yaeso doubled his racing time and fun by bringing his Class A Skeeter and Stern-Steerer to Menominee, Michigan, on March 5-7, 2021. Jay sums up the weekend in this report. Scroll down below his recap to see a few of Gretchen Dorian’s Skeeter photos.
Skeeter sailing and Stern-Steering haven’t been exactly easy these past two winters. Mother Nature and COVID19 tagged teamed and put a beat down on us. That all ended abruptly the weekend of March 5-7, 2021, when a total of nine Class A Skeeters and eight Stern-Steerers landed at Menomonie, Michigan, courtesy of world-famous Renegade sailor Mike Derusha.
Mike spent countless hours evaluating the local conditions and determined it was green light go for all involved. He nailed it! Perfect landing and ice conditions.
The threat of the Mackinaw icebreaker coming through had us on red alert; however, the Coasties held off their icebreaking efforts the remainder of the weekend.
Day one Friday was all about the Skeeters. Conditions were perfect, a light 5-10 mph southeaster, and we completed four races.
John Dennis (JD) in the U194 and Ken Whitehorse piloting the M197 were the boats to beat. Both displayed blistering speed in this light condition. Most impressive is watching the legend Paul Krueger M165 sail at 81 years young! A true inspiration for any iceboater! Class act! The ice stayed hard all day with full sunshine. Rounding out the Friday fleet was Tom Hyslop V738, Leon Lebeau D888, and Jay Yaeso U311.
Saturday brought out three more Skeeters, Mark Isabell V30, Steve Orlebeke V500, and Alex Peterson V137. The day started with a light northwesterly, and Skeeters and Stern-Steerers shared a racecourse.
The Wisconsin Stern Steerers Association started race one of their championship regatta series. This race was by far the longest iceboat race I have ever experienced. My Stern-Steerer, HAYWIRE, was the only yacht to finish, and what a weird finish it was! She completed the race upwind as a 180-degree wind shift hit on the final leg. It was a grueling race that the Race Committee declared abandoned because of time limit infraction. The incredible wind shift made it easy on the Race Committee because the 180-degree wind shift flip-flopped the course.
The Skeeters sailed downwind and commenced race five of the weekend. Ken Whitehorse was hooked up and won the race. The fresh breeze locked in again from the southeast at 5-10 mph, which made it another great day. U194 and M197 were the boats to beat, with the M165 securing second place in race five and V30 showing much speed in race seven.
The Stern-Steerers plugged away throughout the day and managed to race three more races with the Class A boat MICHIGANDER sailed by Erik and Ritch Sawyer acing every race. Once again, proving a Class A Stern-Steerer is the ultimate ride! HAYWIRE chased the MICHIGANDER, followed up by the remainder of the fleet. Dave Lallier, Mike Kroll, Mark Weiner, Max Runge, Joe Terry and Class D winner Andy Gratton.
Upon completing the day’s racing, Wisconsin Skeeter Association’s morale Officer Ken Whitehorse presented JD the Bottle Trophy. All participants consumed some of Jameson’s whiskey bottle, which capped off a glorious day of Skeeter and Stern-Steerer racing. Following the Bottle Trophy celebration, the WSA gathered at Jozwiak’s Bar and Grill, home of the delicious and delightful hamburger know as the “Wabash” and killer homemade pizza.
Sunday arrived with light conditions with a forecasted south southeast wind at 10-15 mph. The light air gave the fleet leisure set up time. When the clock read 11 AM, we had 11 mph of wind which kept building all day. The Skeeters finished their series with the final race deciding who won the weekend series. JD prevailed with Kenny on his heels. Great to see newcomers Leon Lebeau and Alex Peterson join the Skeeter fleet! We are all looking forward to racing with these guys!
The WSSA wrapped up their championship with the MICHIGANDER winning race five, and HAYWIRE launched and sailing on two runners most of race six for the final race win. Great to see all the familiar faces with lots of new ones. We now can put the Skeeters and Stern-Steerers away fast and ready for the 21-22 season.
A weekend like this happens with a lot of behind-the-scenes help. Special thanks to Deb Whitehorse for all her support, to WSSA Race Committee Ann Gratton, and Mary Jane and Steve Schalk for tabulating and posting all results. Thank you to Mike Derusha for inviting us all up to Menominee. Thank you to Schoelgels Bayview restaurant for letting us drive through their parking lot and lawn to access this great sheet of ice, and Ken Whitehorse for all his work as WSA morale/trophy officer. Not to forget all competitors, thank you to everyone who showed up put in a tremendous effort to make this a most excellent weekend of sailing. Thanks for the incredible memories!
Jay Yaeso U-311 C-47
Stern-Steerers are one of photographer Gretchen Dorian’s favorite subjects to point her camera
Stern-Steerers are one of photographer Gretchen Dorian’s favorite subjects to photograph. Gretchen came over the bridge from Northern Michigan to photograph the great gathering of iceboats in Menominee, Michigan, over the weekend. She’s editing all the images and will have the high-resolution versions available on her website for purchase. She uploaded fifty photos to Facebook and has allowed iceboat.org to post them for those of you who don’t use Facebook. Here’s the first batch, the Stern-Steerers from their 2021 Wisconsin Stern-Steerers Association Championship. Gretchen would also like to thank Mike Derusha for helping her get out two miles to the Stern-Steerer race course.
Via WSSA Secretary Andy Gratton:
The Wisconsin Stern Steering Regatta has been called on for Oconto City Park which is about 2 miles south of Oconto, Wisconsin on the bay shore. The intersection to Hwy 41 is at Frog Pond Road.
Ice access is from a 400′ beach with the ice close to shore frozen to the bottom. It is not recommended to drive more than a few truck lengths onto the ice. A four wheeler will be available to pull trailers onto the ice. Heavy trailers can park on the ice next to shore to off-load. The wind forecast is not great but this may be the last chance for WSSA this season. First race is scheduled for Saturday, March 6 at noon.
There is an EconoLodge in Oconto with rooms at $70 with pool, hot tub, and continental breakfast.
600 Brazeau Ave, Oconto, WI 54153 Phone: (920) 834-5559
The Wisconsin Stern Steering Association Regatta for 2021 has been tentatively called on for March 6 and 7. The site selected is Oconto, WI with a secondary site at Escanaba, MI. Final confirmation will be made by 1 PM Thursday, March 4. Check back here after that time. It is very probable that trailers will need to be pulled on at either site using a 4-wheeler.
Jay Yaeso designed and built this Stern-Steerer so that his two boys could enjoy ice sailing together. Glad to see that ice conditions at Oconto County Park near Peshtigo, WI enabled FROSTY and the Yaesos to start that journey. Of course Stern-Steerer sailors Mike Kroll and Andy Gratton were there too but off exploring when Jay took this photo.
Via WSSA Secretary Andy Gratton:
The Wisconsin Stern Steering Association regatta has been postponed to February 27 and 28, 2021. The next update will be Sunday, February 21. Check back here at that time. We almost had suitable ice off Menominee if it weren’t for the snow we all received on Saturday.
Ice has returned to New York’s Hudson River Valley, the origin point of American ice sailing, and the historic stern steerers are coming out of the barns. Keep an eye on Brian Reid’s indispensable White Wings and Black Ice website for the next few weeks for the stories and photos.
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.
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
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