4LIYC Ice Yacht History: RED ARROW

4LIYC Ice Yacht History: RED ARROW

The recent “Garage Find” post inspired a morning of research on RED ARROW, a Madison-style stern-steerer built by William Bernard in the 1920s.

Peter Fauerbach mentioned that after years of being stored in an Madison apartment building owned by Warren Tetzlaff, RED ARROW was sold in the mid 1990s and shipped to Montana.What happened in between covers some interesting Madison history.

RED ARROW was originally owned by Joe Dean Jr., son of prominent Madison doctor Joseph Dean who founded the Dean Clinic. Joe’s brother, Frank, raced it as well.  The Deans lived next door to the Bernard Boat House on Gorham Street on Lake Mendota.

The boat was named after the 32nd Infantry Division, a World War One Army National Guard Division made up of units from Wisconsin and Michigan. RED ARROW won the C Class at the 1922 Northwest sailed on Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh, WI.

RED ARROW has a slight link to the famous aviator, Charles Lindbergh, who briefly attended the University of Wisconsin in 1921. When Lindbergh visited Madison in 1929, Dr. Joseph Dean Sr. told his son, Frank, that if he could get a ride in Lindbergh’s plane, he would buy him an airplane. Frank was successful and his father bought him that airplane.

More on Charles Lindbergh and Madison Ice Sailing: 
Charles Lindbergh Learned About Speed on Lake Mendota’s Ice
Meade Gougeon’s Essential “Evolution of Modern Sailboat Design”

Photos from the William and Carl Bernard Collection

Meade Gougeon’s Essential “Evolution of Modern Sailboat Design”

Meade Gougeon’s Essential “Evolution of Modern Sailboat Design”

“Others quickly picked up the bow-steering design, and a few large bow-steerers were built…A Class B boat (250 square feet of sail) was built by Starke Meyer of Milwaukee and he ran away from everything else on the lakes”. Photo from the Carl Bernard Scrapbook Collection.

While researching last week’s Throw Back Thursday Gar Wood regatta post, I discovered a book that wasn’t on my radar or in my library, Meade Gougeon’s “Evolution of Modern Sailboat Design” written with co-author Ty Knoy. The stern-steerer iceboat on the cover hinted this was not a typical book about soft water sailboats with an obligatory paragraph about iceboats. Meade masterfully combined the story of iceboat design, mechanics, and history as he explained why some boats are faster than others. If you collect books about iceboating, this is an essential volume and available on Amazon.

Meade’s Bigger Picture Thinking:

  • “Many of the refinements in sails and rigging that have been developed since World War I originated on iceboats.”
  • “The first bow-steerer of any importance was built in 1931 by the Joy brothers, sailmakers in Milwaukee.” …”the Joy brothers and Walter Beauvais (of Williams Bay, WI) who came up with the machine (BEAU SKEETER) that retired the big boats forever…It went on the ice in Lake Geneva in 1933 and was an instant success.”
  • Iceboaters were quick to take up the idea’s of Dr. Manfred Curry, a German sailor who came up with the idea of planing full length battens to curve into an airfoil. (An idea banned in most soft-water racing classes at the time of the book’s publication.) Iceboaters in the 1930s were using revolutionary ideas like rotating masts, wing masts, and full length battens while soft-water classes were outlawing advancements. The few softwater classes that allowed rotating masts (in 1976) were Midwestern scows, from the same part of the world where a good many iceboaters are also scow sailors in the summer.
  • The aviator, Charles Lindbergh, (who spent a semester here the university in Madison and motored around Lake Mendota on an ice sled) “is said to have had a hand in the design of a very advanced rig” that was put on the Class A stern-steerer, DEUCE II, which was owned by Lindbergh’s cousin, Joseph Lodge of Detroit.

“On DEUCE II, with the help of Lindbergh, Lodge installed a rotating wing mast, believed to be the first ever used…DEUCE II was a hard luck boat, plagued by rigging failures, as Lodge challenged for the Stuart Cup and the Hearst International trophies in the 1930s.” Photo from the Carl Bernard Scrapbook Collection.

“Most of the troubles [from DEUCE II] were ironed out in DEUCE III, a remodeled version of DEUCE II, and in 1938, Lodge won both trophies to become champion of the world for Class A.” Photo from the Carl Bernard Scrapbook Collection.

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