Eight Bells: George S. Hendrie Jr.

George S. Hendrie, Skipper of the BULL. Photo from the Carl Bernard Collection. (This photo is likely George S. Hendrie Sr.)

The opening line of an obituary often sets the tone for a life well-lived, and when it begins with the mention of sailing on the famous stern-steerer FERDINAND THE BULL, you know you’re about to dive into the story of a true sailing legend. George S. Hendrie Jr., an avid iceboater hailing from the Detroit, Michigan, area, passed away on January 1, 2024, at the remarkable age of 96.
Fair winds and following seas, George.

 George S. Hendrie Jr., 96, died Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. He was a loving husband and father.

George was president of Color Custom Compounding prior to selling the company in 1984. He also was an avid sailor and iceboater. At age 16, he was the trimmer for his father aboard Ferdinand the Bull, when they won the Stuart Cup in 1943. The Stuart Cup was considered the world championship of iceboating in the unlimited class in that era. George and his father repeated as Stuart Cup victors aboard Ferdinand the Bull in 1944.

His involvement in sailing on Ferdinand the Bull ended in January 1945, when he joined the U.S. Navy to fight in World War II. Upon his return from the war, he continued racing iceboats. He was a past commodore of the Detroit News Ice Yacht Club and Detroit Ice Yacht Club in the late 1940s and early 1950s. On or around 1961, he won the national championship for the Arrow class of iceboats. Continue reading.

Letter to Carl Bernard from George S. Hendrie Sr.

Elmer Millenbach Interview: Part 3

Elmer Millenbach Interview Part 1
Elmer Millenbach Interview Part 2
Elmer Millenbach Archives
Here’s the final installation of the Elmer Millenbach interview with historic video footage of Elmer winning a race on Lake St. Clair in the 1940s. Elmer’s wife, Cora Lee, also makes an appearance in the audio track. Cora Lee was vital in building the Renegade fleet, serving as Renegade class Secretary for many years. She also worked race committee at iceboat regattas.

Elmer Millenbach Interview Part 1

Elmer Millenbach Archives

Detroit’s Elmer Millenbach (1912-1996), the creator of the Renegade iceboat, was arguably one of the most influential men in North American iceboat development. The boom of Ontario, Canada’s Class A Skeeter sailor Rob Intini carried the message “We All Play Elmer’s Tune” as a reminder.

Greg Whitehorse recently dropped off an interview with Elmer on a cassette tape recorded in 1989 by the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut. Over an hour-long, I edited the interview into different parts for the listener’s convenience and added a slide show.

In part one, Elmer recalls the beginning days of the DN and his frustration that he “…couldn’t find out what a DN was,” inspiring him to develop new ways of designing iceboat components such as runners. He knew there would soon be competition from the new front steering boats to see who could go the fastest. “You get enough kiddie cars together, and pretty soon, there’s a race.”

Here’s Part 1 of the interview.

“Looking Back: Ice boating on Lake St. Clair”

Looking Back: Ice boating on Lake St. Clair
St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published February 7, 2021

ST. CLAIR SHORES — In this undated image, three two-person ice boats of the Racing 60s class are getting ready for competition on Lake St. Clair. Ice boating was popular on Lake St. Clair, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s (likely when this photo was taken) and into the middle part of the 20th century. Continue reading.