In The News: Bill Mattison in Nov Seahorse Magazine

In The News: Bill Mattison in Nov Seahorse Magazine

Bill Mattison in SNAPSHOT

The November issue of Seahorse Magazine has published the first of a two-part article about Bill Mattison written by Carol Cronin. Despite never meeting him, she genuinely shares her awe about Bill’s unique talents and conveys a real sense of him through Peter Harken.
The magazine is subscription based.

You can purchase the November edition in print or digital format here.

Circus minimus – much adventure, little drama – Part I

After hearing so much about Bill Mattison’s amazing ability to ‘engineer and build anything’ I would have loved to have met him. And since he never just sat around maybe I could have watched those big meaty hands working away at one of his many skills. Scarfing a damaged iceboat plank. Repairing a carbon mast. Welding up a replacement piece for a photo developing machine. Or decorating a tiny wagon wheel for the model circus he started as a kid and continued to add to for the rest of his very full life. How could one man achieve so much success in so many different mediums, on so many different scales, from larger-than-life America’s Cup boats down to half-inch-to the- foot scale models?
-Carol Cronin

PREVIOUSLY
A Life that Dreams Are Made Of
Eight Bells
Home of the Volleyball(?) Champs
Nothing Fickler
Bill’s Circus Life
The Icing On The Lake”
“Fast Forward Since Birth”
“The Hard-Water Gang” with Bill Mattison at the 2001 ISA
Shooting the Breeze with Bill Mattison
Bill Mattison Inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame
Iceboaters Fingerprints
Willy St. Iceboat Shop Archives

Everything You Want to Know About Rear-Seat Skeeters

Everything You Want to Know About Rear-Seat Skeeters


Bill Mattison wrote this article for Yacht Racing and Cruising magazine in 1981 in the heyday of the rear-seat Class A Skeeter, a few years before the dawn of the cockpit forward style. Hundreds of these rear-seaters are still out there. Print this article and keep it with the boat if you have one.
Tip of the Helmet: Mike O’Brien
Read the article.

The word “iceboater” should be listed as a synonym for “dedication.”
Bill Mattison

Mystic Arrow

Mystic Arrow

Arrow iceboats push off to race at Red Banks, New Jersey. Photo via Dan Clapp.

More information from Mystic Seaport Museum.

May 29, 2022 UPDATE: Long time friend of Prescott Shreeve, Tom Nichols, emailed with some of his memories. See text below.

The exhibition, Story Boats: The Tales They Tell, opens today at Connecticut’s Mystic Seaport Museum. One of the story boats is WHISTLING WIND, an Arrow iceboat owned by Herbert Prescott Shreeve. He was president of Lake Hopatcong Ice Yacht Club in New Jersey.

The Arrow iceboat holds its value (they sell rather quickly on the Buy & Sell page) and remains one of the most popular cruising boats, though east coast ice yacht clubs have racing fleets. The Boston family in Michigan developed the Arrow in their sail loft. Martha Boston Youstra recalls, “The Arrow, as I remember, was 16-feet with a 12-foot runner plank. The first boats were gel-coated by Judd Harrell and later sub-contracted to Custom Flex in Toledo, Ohio. Bill Sarns made the hardware, and we added the finishing touches at the loft. We had a trailer that held ten boats. The molds were sold to someone in Michigan’s thumb area and left to rot. [I’ve heard the molds are now in New Jersey. – Ed.] Originally they sold complete for $350. Some current boats have springboards added, and some now are selling for $5k. I believe Dad wanted a lighter-weight boat as he aged, yet with Lolly in mind. Her boat was called ICE TEA. Howard and his third daughter Sue won the first Arrow Nationals. I raced one time with Bill Mattison at the helm. That was awesome. I can’t remember how we placed. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the exact year, thinking 1964. I do have a couple of photos of our family fleet. Red Bank, N.J., had a large fleet, and Erie, PA, had a small fleet.”

I knew “Press” and his wife Madge very well. They always came together to sail. I don’t think I have ever seen a couple more devoted to each other. Press was active during the “Golden Age” of the Lake Hopatcong Ice Yacht Club. I believe he was one of the original founding members. He sailed a stern steerer for most of his ice boating career. He got into the Arrow when they realized the Stern Steerer was just too much for them handle. The Stern Steerer runners were just too much for Madge to carry.

He bought the arrow in the late 1960’s, I think. He was an excellent sailor on both hard and soft water. One year, the Arrow Nationals came to Lake Hopatcong. I do believe that Press beat Skip Boston in a couple of races. Jack Andreson from Greenwood Lake won the regatta. I think Press might have been third.

Press did not build the Arrow from a kit in his living room but that was the workshop for his ice boat parts. I am sure Madge never complained a bit. Press was a very competent and meticulous craftsman. His equipment was always in first class shape.

Press and Madge were very devoted to ice boating and almost always were on the ice wherever the club was sailing. I those days the club “traveled” together. DNs, Arrows, Yankees, Skeeters all showed up at the same lake. Press and Madge loved the sport and never looked for an excuse not to go sailing. They realized you had to be there when the ice was ready, not necessarily when you were ready.
Tom Nichols

From the exhibition program. Courtesy of Mystic Seaport Museum.

A Life That Dreams Are Made Of

A Life That Dreams Are Made Of

20′ banner made by Tim Stanton.

“He would have hated this.” Billy Mattison reminded the packed room at Gunderson’s Funeral Home about the humble nature of his father, Bill. The memories of Bill shared by those who had preceded Billy were unique and moving. It was a privilege to witness a group of highly accomplished individuals speak in awe of their friend. Here are a few highlights from the people invited by emcee Don Sanford to share their best stories.

Bill organized the building of a new hull for the world’s largest iceboat, Rick Hennig’s DEUCE. Rick recounted that experience with great affection and humor. When Bill saw the semi-truck full of Sitka Spruce roll into the shop parking lot, he turned to Rick and said, “That’s the stuff dreams are made of.”

Bill’s neighbor said that when Bill came over to watch him tinker in his garage, it was “like God himself coming to watch a mere mortal.”

“Yeah, I know a little about that.” America’s Cup veteran, Larry Malik, recalled Bill’s typically understated reply when asked if he could fix a photo processing machine during an AC Australian campaign. Larry shared the famous story of the day Bill took the film of the AC boat to the one-hour photo store, where he learned that the store’s processing machine was on the fritz. Bill fixed the machine and came back with the pictures.

Lon Schoor, Bill’s long-time Mendota Yacht Club A Scow partner, marveled at no matter how complicated the project; Bill was so organized in his thoughts that he didn’t have to write anything down and always made the deadline. He left us laughing with a story about how Bill schemed how they would sell the idea of buying an A Scow to their wives, Donna and Mauretta. Bill told Mauretta that Lon had purchased the boat, while Lon was to tell Donna that it was Bill’s boat.

Dr. Kyle Metzloff, a sailor, ice sailor, and UW Professor of Industrial Metal studies, spoke about Bill’s genius and ability to pick up new and complicated ideas. Having never dealt with computers, he learned to operate a mini CNC mill for creating scale model Mattison Circus parts. At an older age, Bill figured out computers.

Peter Harken shared his amazement at Bill and Paul Krueger’s work ethic. They never wasted a minute, not even in the bathroom where Peter assumed “they had a drill press installed.” Peter acknowledged those who traveled from afar, including New Jersey Skeeter sailor Dan Clapp and America’s Cup alumni from San Diego.

Sailing legend Buddy Melges came to the podium, fixing his steely blue eyes on Mauretta and the family for a full minute, not saying a word, holding the audience in his hand while he made us wait. Buddy spoke about their America’s Cup days and how remarkable it was for a guy who came from the Scow world; Bill could make a 12-meter sail faster. “He did not sail on it, but he made it faster when he worked on it.” (Later, I heard stories in the bar about how at least one of Bill’s modifications caused a stir with some AC engineers, but they calmed down when the boat speed increased.)

“He would have hated this.” Billy Mattison reminded the packed room about the humble nature of his father, Bill. The last to speak at Bill’s Celebration of Life, Billy had to follow some esteemed acts, giants of the sailing world, who had shared stories from the podium of the man’s genius. Billy’s poignant closing remarks emphasized the private family side of Bill and his devotion to his wife of 65 years, Mauretta, their children, Lynn and Billy, and their grandchildren.

“I think it is time for a dipper.”

On our way to Gundersons, Don Anderson and I delivered cakes to the Breakwater for the post-memorial reception sponsored by the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club and Mendota Yacht Club. The manager surprised us with the news that Mauretta had called with instructions that she would be picking up the bar tab. On Monday, unsure of the damage, the two yacht clubs offered to pitch in with the bill. Mauretta said no, adamant that Bill would have insisted on it. Thanks, Bill.
Debra Rosten Whitehorse

PREVIOUSLY
Home of the Volleyball(?) Champs
Nothing Fickler
Bill’s Circus Life
The Icing On The Lake”
“Fast Forward Since Birth”
“The Hard-Water Gang” with Bill Mattison at the 2001 ISA
Shooting the Breeze with Bill Mattison
Bill Mattison Inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame
Iceboaters Fingerprints
Willy St. Iceboat Shop Archives

4LIYC -Home of the (Volleyball?) Champions

4LIYC -Home of the (Volleyball?) Champions

Bill Mattison and Ken Whitehorse at a 4LIYC trophy banquet. Don Ermer in the background.

PREVIOUSLY
Bill’s Circus Life
The Icing On The Lake”
“Fast Forward Since Birth”
“The Hard-Water Gang” with Bill Mattison at the 2001 ISA
Shooting the Breeze with Bill Mattison
Bill Mattison Inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame
Iceboaters Fingerprints
Willy St. Iceboat Shop Archives

Here are two stories from Ken Whitehorse and Greg Whitehorse about Bill.

Did you know the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club had a volleyball team? The late Bill McCormick sponsored the team. Bill was a terrific ball player! (Me, not so much.) And yes, Bill Mattison was a fantastic spiker! He could pound the cover off the ball! We played in the city power volleyball league against younger teams, including university club teams. We were city champions in 1978.

After a match, while having a few dippers, we talked about how cold it was. “It was makin’ ice.” Bill Mattison recalled how bitter cold it was in the trenches while fighting as a soldier in the Korean War. It was deathly cold. Bill McCormick served on a combat ship off the Korean shore during those winters. Bill McCormick said, “You know I always felt guilty and sorry for all those soldiers in that bitter cold, day after day. Bill paused ….. He said he was grateful for the warmth of the ship.

Mattison brought the conversation back to iceboating. He told us that on his return trip from the war, he drew up the plans for Honey Bucket #1. They were full-size plans, and he laid them all out on the beck of the ship! I learned a lot from those two men. We weren’t just playing volleyball. Fair Winds All. Until we meet again in the bye and bye..
Ken Whitehorse

Greg Whitehorse shared this on the 4LIYC Facebook page.

I remember stopping at the Willy St shop one winter day. Bill asked me why I wasn’t on the lake sailing the previous weekend. (I sailed in the Skeeter fleet back then.) I told him that I had broken my runner plank the week before. He said, “Bring it in. Let’s get it fixed”. I told him it was beyond repair. His next words were, “get some wood off that stack there (Sitka Spruce), and we’ll start on a new one. By the third day, it was edged, planed, glued, and shaped. Bill did the vast majority of the work. He even put a coat of epoxy on it. I brought it back to my garage, hung the hardware on it, and was on the ice the next weekend. I’m sure Bill had other things to do that week, but getting another boat on the line took precedence. What a guy!
Greg Whitehorse

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