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.

New Mary B Ice Boat Foundation Website

Announcement: We are pleased to announce a new Mary B Ice Boat Foundation website!!


The Ice Boat Foundation, Inc., current owners of the famous Mary B, announce the launch of our new Mary B website


We’re thankful for the great design work of Deb Whitehorse and everyone who provided photos, videos and content. We’re especially thankful on this day for all of our supporters who provided the funds to help us purchase and restore the fastest piece of Madison history. If you haven’t made a contribution to the effort, you’ll find a place on the website to do that.


Mostly though you’ll find stories and photos that tell the story of Madison’s famous iceboat, the Mary B.


And a special thanks to O.T. Havey, Frank O. Tetzlaff and Carl Bernard. Without that dream team there would be no Mary B.


See you on the ice.
Don Sanford

Book Club: Ice Boating by H. L. Stone


Ice Boating by H L Stone

Previous: Book Club
Stern-Steerers ruled the ice 25 years before Frederic Gardiner wrote Wings On The Ice. In 1913 Herbert L. Stone published a popular iceboating book simply called Ice Boating. Stone, who edited Yachting Magazine, wrote the forward to Wings On the IceStone crammed his book with technical details and drawings. His friends in the yachting world contributed to the book, such as the famous yacht designer Nathanael Herreshoff who tried to explain the math behind iceboat speeds. 

I can find no evidence that Stone ever owned an iceboat, but he had a tremendous influence on the sport by helping to popularize it through articles in Yachting Magazine. Stone played a big part in reviving the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant (IYCP) when he encouraged the IYCP trustees of the New Hamburgh Ice Yacht Club to pass on the trusteeship to the Eastern Ice Yachting Association. Stone was inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame in 2019.

White Wings Black Ice is the greatest website source on the Hudson River ice yachts of Stone’s time. Brian Reid’s website has page dedicated to vintage books as well.

While We Wait: Here’s a Russian Stern-Steerer With Interesting Runners

Photo from “konstantin_k_n” Instagram account

November is the toughest month, when ice sailors patiently conceal their impatience for that first ice report. While we wait, here’s a photo of a  lovely gaff-rigged Russian stern-steerer that I ran across on Instagram. The unusual runners are what attracted my attention. Wonder how they worked in snow?


Throwback Thursday: 8mm Memories

Michigan’s Bill Parker converted his grandfather’s 8 mm ice boating films and uploaded them to YouTube. Take a look.

My father, Bill Parker, and my Grandfather, Howard Parker, built, sailed, and raced iceboats in the Battle Creek, Michigan area. These 8mm films are from the WWII era, primarily after the war. They were scanned from very neglected originals, and the quality is really bad. The original “cinematography” wasn’t great, and Dad was good at taking film of rig or boat details. Much of the footage is relatively static in nature, but there are action shots of iceboats here and there.

The most common iceboats shown are C-class, there is an A class boat or two, and also Skeeters. Grandpa owned an A-class boat for a few years called the “Gossoon”, and later, a Skeeter named “The Duchess.” Dad’s C-Class boat was “Valkyrie”.

I am sure of the Gouguac and Crystal lake venues, but unsure if the other venue is Lake St. Clair. I know they raced there, but also in Wisconsin venues. If you have any information about the venues or the boats, please feel free to comment. [On the YouTube page.]

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 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.




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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