While we wait for Wednesday’s announcement about the 2022 Northwest Ice Yacht Association Regatta, this newspaper clipping posted by Chris Smith of Michigan on the Iceboating Facebook group, is a timely reminder of this historic regatta, first sailed in Menominee, Michigan in 1913. The video link below his comes by way of Shirley Cross Fortune, from her father, Detroit Ice Yacht Club’s Wally Cross. Jack Ripp is pictured next to Jane Pegel and represented the 4LIYC with his second place in the Free-For-All.
YOUTUBE VIDEO OF 1958 NORTHWEST REGATTA
FROM THE ARCHIVES OF JANE PEGEL DN805
1958 Northwest Regatta,
January 17, 18, 19
From Kalamazoo Gazette
REACH CLIMAX TODAY IN GULL LAKE ICE REGATTA
Elmer Millenbach of Detroit, favorite in the Renegade class, won his third and fourth straight heats Saturday to practically assure himself of a Northwest Assn crown. Gull Lake’s Bob Smith has a good lead in Class B over three Gull Lake foes and is a heavy favorite to sew up his division title today in his speedy “Alcoholic” after winning his fourth straight heat Saturday. Remi DeBlaer of Detroit has a substantial lead in the DN 60 class with three firsts and a second. C. H. (Skip) Boston of Detroit dropped out of contention after a first and two seconds when he disqualified himself in the fourth heat race. Weather continued perfect for the event with fast ice and a fine following wind for the fast boats — they reach speeds of 100 miles an hour or more — to cover the 1.3 mile racing course. There are several boats that dunked in a pressure crack near the island on Gull Lake Saturday and several relatively minor mishaps. One boat was badly damage, but none of the pilots were injured.
YACHTS SET FOR ANNUAL FREE-FOR-ALL
Final class Races to Open Program
Fate will play a big hand in determining at least two championships in the annual Northwest Ice Yacht Assn. regatta which winds up today at Gull Lake. Although the final heat race and the championship free-for-all race, matching the two top finishers in each heat race of the six divisions, still remain on the agenda, much of the doubt about class titles has vanished.
The heat race is at 10, the free for all about 1:30. The title contenders suffered boat failures Saturday in heat races to drop from title consideration.
Gull Lake’s Phil Wunderlin, after winning the first two heats of the Class C division handily, saw a broken plank in his boat force him from the third heat race and drop far behind his Gull Lake opponent, veteran Jim LaRose. And Jack Ripp, of Madison, WI, a prime contender in the featured Class E race, fell from title contention in that class when his boat sustained a spar failure in the fourth heat race.
Ripp, who entered the fourth heat race in a deadlock with Bill Perrigo of Pewaukee, WI, thus falls far behind his Wisconsin foe, who has a first, two seconds and a third entering the final day of competition. While Ripp and Wunderlin suffered sad blows from Lady Luck, three other favorites kept up their amazing regatta showing. Don Ward of Oshkosh, WI, who has won 10 straight Class D titles, stretched his heat victory string in the current regatta to four Saturday to take an ample edge of Gerry Sciott and Jack Smith of Gull Lake.
DIRECTOR OF ICE YACHT REGATTA DRAWS PRAISE (Notes on winter classic)
Busiest man at the Northwest Ice Yacht assn regatta at Gull Lake this weekend is genial Gerry Scott, Commodore of the Northwest Assn. Under Scott’s supervision the regatta has been run off in fine style, drawing praise from more than 90 entries from four Midwestern states.
But Scott probably would enjoy this year’s regatta more if he were able to compete himself.
Because of arthritis, Scott has been sideline from actual competition in this year’s regatta and has been forced to watch Jack Smith pilot his “Hiki-No” in a great battle for Class D division honors. Scott hopes to be back at the helm of “Hiki-No” in next year’s Northwest Assn. regatta.
Other notes from the regatta:
Next year Northwest Assn. regatta has been awarded to Oshkosh, WI…Chris Smith of Holland, an executive for Chris-Craft Co, commuted from Gull Lake to his office daily by plane, taking off and landing on the slick ice surfaces of the lake…
There’s a three-generation entry in this year’s regatta. Robert and Jean Zwicky of Pewaukee, WI, are entered individually in the E Class, while sons Henry and Bob are individual entries in the DN 60s. Kick Kidney, father of Mrs. Zwicky, serves as mechanic for the family ice yachts. He’s a former competitor….
Dave Rosten of Madison, WI lost his yacht “Trump” when it shattered after a collision with Chris Smith of Holland….A new point scoring system was approved by Northwest Assn. members at the annual business meeting. It awards first place finishers in each heat 1000 points, second place 910 points, third 834 and down the list comparatively.
The weather continued perfect at the regatta and many competitors found it hard to remember when the regatta was held on the first weekend scheduled in many years…Scott disclaims any credit for the conditions….Conrad Miller, Vice Commodore of local and Northwest units, was able to race in the regatta, but was out of contention entering the final day….His son, Mason, was another local entry….There were plenty of spectators on hand for Saturday’s races. The Gull Lake shoreline was dotted with fans and amateur photographers… The regatta attracted nationwide interest. It was covered by newspapers from most Midwestern cities plus at least one national magazine (Time) as ice yachting made its biggest hit here….The regatta probably won’t return to Gull Lake for at least five years. .
This photo is another “rabbit hole” find, and hey, it happens to be Throw Back Thursday. I came across this marvelous photo of 4LIYC club members enjoying some spring weather (no gloves!) while searching for something else. It originally appeared in the ISA News and Views in either the late 1950s or early 1960s. The gang is relaxing in PIRATE, my father, Dave Rosten’s, Class A Skeeter.
Photo courtesy Jerry Simon ESMERELDA, a Madison-style Stern-Steerer. Jerry Simon, right, with his aunt and cousin.
Previous: Paul McMillan: My First Iceboat
4LIYC Renegader Jerry Simon received a letter this week from Tim Murray (see below) that made his day.
ESMERELDA was my first iceboat purchased by my parents in 1955 to distract my interests in motorcycles. They bought the boat for $200 from the Bill Rider family, who lived on Lake Monona in Monona, Wisconsin. This picture was the only one I had until the Tim Murray picture arrived.
I am standing next to my aunt Dorothy Chambers, with my cousin Larry both with skates on. The photo was taken off of Yahara Street Park on Lake Monona at the end of Dunning Street in Madison. We sailed out of this park back then and had to carry boats down rock embankment to get on the ice. The iceboaters welcomed us younger guys because lots of labor was needed to take and set up the boats.
Bob Brockel, Harry Fields, and other neighborhood kids were happy to help, hoping for a ride. Phil Sawin would park his “Land Lark” motor home on the grass, which became our headquarters when not on the ice. His white iceboat was called “ICE LARK” and was likely made by the group of early Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club sailors such as Tom Krehl, Paul Krueger, Dave Rosten, Bill Ward, with Bill Mattison and Jack Ripp’s guidance.
As to the name, there were several, depending on the day’s outcome on the ice, but “ESMERELDA” sticks. She was big and slow and would toss you out if you didn’t treat her right—one big momma. We had the most fun when it was windy, sometimes with two or three aboard and one on the end of the plank. The boat slid around because it was impossible to sharpen the runners with my tools. She would spin easily, tossing us out as we would peel off the wind and lose steerage.
Another problem was that the metal bobkin would break off when sailing over rough ice, so I made a wood pattern and cast an aluminum one. Tim Murray’s letter mentions that the boat sat too low on the ice, especially under the mast. Modifying a Carl Bernard creation was not a good idea.
I used her for 2-3 years before buying Jack Ripp’s 2nd Class A Skeeter (a modified Renegade) that I named “PAR-A-DICE.” The Skeeter was faster, lighter, and easier to set up. I’m not sure who bought ESMERELDA from me, but I faintly remember a family off Morrison Street in Madison.
Knowing that Carl Bernard built many Madison-style iceboats, it was likely one of his. Someone said he made nearly 100 over the years in the Bernard Boat Shop, which is now the Hoover Boat House owned by the City of Madison, next to James Madison and Conklin Park.
The Madison-Style Stern Steerer before Jerry Simon owned it. Tim Murray is next to the tiller.
Via Tim Murray:
I came across a slide that my Dad took in the mid-1950s of the iceboat you bought from Bill Rider. My Dad took the photo soon after Bill purchased the boat for his son Gary, my age. The four people on the boat are Dick and Harold George (both deceased), Gary Rider [deceased), and me at the tiller.
I know my Dad took this photo soon after Bill purchased the boat because the boat was already set-up when Bill bought it. The next winter Gary and a few of us set it up once we had good ice. We did not support the middle of the plank correctly when putting it together.
Gary’s idea was to cut some inches off each of the angle planks between the runner plank and the upper plank. I told him not to do that because something just wasn’t right, and we needed to figure it out. Against my advice, Gary proceeded to trim a few inches from each board to fit them in the notches. The modifications caused plank to lose the crown, which meant the boat barely cleared the ice. Rider’s lived on Winnequah Road, so we always had to man-handle the boat when crossing the pressure ridge that ran from roughly Tonyawatha Trail where it meets Winnequah Road to the old ESBMA building on Monona Drive. Dave and John Rosten had to do the same as they lived just a few blocks north of Rider’s.
Class E Skeeters line up to race at the 1976 Northwest Regatta on Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin. Photo: Greg Whitehorse
Greg Whitehorse posted this on the 4LIYC Facebook page.
Mid-70’s Northwest Regatta on Lake Mendota.
You are looking at just one side of the starting line, so I’ll guess there are probably 28, maybe more, Class E* Skeeters in this race. M-54 is Gary Sternberg’s “So What,” but I think Vic Whitehorse is at the helm for this race. That would be Dave Nelson’s M-150, “Tuff Ship” lined up next. Racing in the Skeeter class with 30-40 boats on the line was a blast back in the day.
Between the late ’60s and early ’70s, I believe club members helped build ten or more Class E Skeeters in Dave Rosten’s basement. It wasn’t unusual to see Dave, Paul Krueger, Bill Mattison, Jack Ripp, the guy who the boat was being built for, and a host of others all helping out. It was an incredible time.
Skeeter Ice Boat Club’s Sparky Lundberg aced out Paul Krueger for the Class A Skeeter win that year. It may have been the first year for PK’s rear seater.
January 21, 1976, Wisconsin State Journal: Paul Krueger’s first rear-seat Class A Skeeter.
1976 NIYA Regatta Winners:
Class A: No entry
Class B: WINTER BELL, B. Herman
Class C: TWIN BEDS, Bill McCormick
Class D: RED WITCH, Dick Slates
Class E Skeeter: Sparky Lundberg
DN Class: Jane Pegel
DN Class Junior:Mike O’Brien
Renegade Class: Elmer Millenbach RENEGADE III
*The Reason Class A Skeeters are called Class E Skeeters in the Northwest Regatta
The International Skeeter Association designates bow-steering Skeeters Class A as “Single place yachts, or two-place tandem Whose mast, when measured along the mast, does not exceed 28’-6″ from the deck to top of mast, including all mast and deck hardware.” Class A Skeeters carry a maximum of 75 square feet of sail. However, when Class A Skeeters sail in the Northwest regatta, they are listed as “Class E.” (When I was a kid, I thought the E stood for “Experimental.”)
Class A Skeeters turn into Class E because there was already a Class A, B, C, and D in the Northwest, and those designations applied to Stern-Steerers. Skeeters got the left-over E. It reminds us that the Northwest regatta is a Stern-Steerer regatta, organized in 1913 by ice yacht clubs, which only sailed Stern-Steerers at the time. 1936 marks the year that the Northwest recognized Skeeters as an ice yacht class.
Spring iceboat sailing can be magnificent. Wet shoes are easier to ignore when the sun is shining and it’s so warm, the gloves remain in the gear bag. Here’s another video from the Bill and Mauretta Mattison collection filmed sometime in the 1960s. Cast of characters include Skeeter sailors Bill Mattison HONEYBUCKET VI, Dave Rosten PIRATE, Charlie Johnson M99, Paul Krueger M165 (must have been a brand new boat because there’s no RAMBLN name applied yet), and one of the Bluel’s in SHADOW II.
You’ll note that several DNs showed up to play and a few raced without helmets. Apparently the club’s view on mandatory helmet usage must have evolved since the 1960s because they are now required in order to race. Some of the DN sailors enjoying that day include Bob Brockel JAY BEE, Harry Fields HARI KARI, and Jack Lowe HI JACK. Jack’s dog, Skipper, makes an appearance. (I remember that Skipper had a propensity to take care of business on the canvas boat covers.)
So take 14 minutes and go back in time with this unedited video from a perfect day on Lake Mendota.