Regatta Causes Lake Geneva Traffic Jam

Evron Kline, Battle Creek Ice Yacht Club,  photos

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Northwest Regatta Page

Here’s a scrapbook page filled with 1948 Northwest photos from Lori Klein-Clossen’s grandfather, Evron Kline. Evron was a member of the Battle Creek, Michigan Ice Yacht Club.

The 1948 NIYA was likely the first time an iceboat regatta caused traffic jams as spectators hunted for parking spots between Fontana, Williams Bay, and Lake Geneva. The FRITZ, a 4LIYC Class A Stern Steerer, was the boat to beat. A young Bill Mattison crewed on 18-year-old Jim Lunder’s FRITZ to win the A-Class title. New Jersey’s Art Siebke won a tie-break with Elmer Millenbach to take the Skeeter championship. Menominee, Michigan’s Dick Sawyer, and Sam Wells took Class B honors in RITA. Class C championship went to Bud Stroshine of Oshkosh, WI, sailing SUSAN JO, and Don Ward’s ROSEMARY won Class D.

“How Would You Know?”

Paul Krueger M165, Ken Whitehorse M197, and Bill Mattison M143. Class A Skeeters, c. 1980s

The subject of sailing on Lake Koshkonong, about 30 minutes south of Madison, came up recently on the 4LIYC Facebook page. Koshkonong looks inviting as you drive past. It was a reasonable question to ask, why not Koshkonong?

Well, 4LIYC members and other ice sailors just “know,” and here’s how:

C Skeeter sailor Pat Heppert remarked, ” When I lived in WI, I spent years driving by and checking it. So tempting many times when it looked like glass ‘from the road.’ But whenever you walk it, all sorts of WTF problems show up. I finally gave up and concluded Koshkonong is just not meant for iceboats. The root source of the problem is the highly variable water level, which causes all the subsequent problems.”

The definitive proof came from a Mattison-Krueger-Whitehorse adventure on Koshkonong back in the 1980s.

Ken Whitehorse:

Ken, Bill, and PK

There was a big setup area. PK and I went tearing out to the lake. We saw spring bubbles to port and starboard. It was a gauntlet of spring water bubble-ups, like aerators. There were so many we could only turn around once we found a big area. As we sailed back to shore, we couldn’t follow our old runner tracks too closely because we had already busted through the ice on the way out. Bill Mattison said he was ready to push off and shook his head. ” I tried to tell you guys about this place, but you guys shamed me into it. “But How Would You Know”

We had a 24′ rake back mast, so we only needed 3 to set up the Skeeters. We considered ourselves so fortunate to get out of there that no one said a word about it as we went into the smoky tavern for a dipper.

Book Club: Fauerbach Brewing Company

“PRINCESS III in action” in front of Fauerbach Brewery on Lake Monona.

For over a hundred years, the Fauerbach family have been Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club members and officers. The epicenter of Madison iceboating ran across the isthmus from the Bernard Boat Shop on Lake Mendota to the Fauerbach Brewery on Lake Monona. Until the brewery was closed, 4LIYC members gathered in the brewery’s elaborately carved bar for a “cold dipper” to talk smart and conduct club business. Peter Fauerbach has written a book about his family, the brewery, the social history of Madison, and the Fauerbach’s iceboats. Peter’s book is a must-have for iceboating, beer, and Madison history fans.
Buy your copy online here.

Skeeter Raffle

Sorry, you are 88 years too late for the Skeeter raffle. Likely DUTCHMEN, Carl Bernard’s first Skeeter built in 1935. (Photo, c. 1955: Color slide from the Carl Bernard collection.)

An interesting rabbit hole opened while researching another iceboat. Skeeters first came into the 4LIYC in 1935, much earlier than I had assumed. A 1935 newspaper clipping mentions that a “Class E German type iceboat” had been raffled off by the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club. Carl Bernard had a few photos of an early Skeeter without a springboard set up on the pier at the Bernard Boat House on Lake Mendota. I also remember seeing the German iceboat plans in the Bernard scrapbooks at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

A January 1935 Wisconsin State Journal article reported that nine new Skeeters would be competing with the club, six of which were built by Carl Bernard.  A visit to the State Historical archives to look at the German front-seater plans is needed to fill in the rest of the 4LIYC and Skeeter development history.

The lucky winner of the Skeeter was Jerry Hirsig, an owner of one of Madison’s famous department stores, Wolf Kubly and Hirsig. Hirsig wasn’t an ice boater and purchased the ticket to help the club raise funds. He said he was saving it for his grandson, but there’s no further mention of the boat or grandson in the newspaper archives.

Carl Bernard and the 4LIYC’s focus remained on Stern-Steerers until after WW2 and the Korean War when the Skeeter class became dominant.


Ice Yacht Academy

Page from 1937 East High School yearbook in Madison, Wisconsin.

Many Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club members graduated from Madison’s East High School, including Bill Mattison, Jack Ripp, Dave Rosten, Bob Brockel, and more. Don Sanford came across this page from the 1937 East High School yearbook that again proves ice sailing has been a constant in this city’s history. 1937 would have been too early for the sailors mentioned, and when I have time, I’ll take a look at the archives to see who might have been members of the East High School Ice Yacht Club.