“Wizard of Zenda” Premiers in March 2023

Gloria and Buddy Melges at the 2007 Northwest Regatta at Menominee, MI. Photo: Chris John

Buddy Melges Archives
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The long anticipated Buddy Melges documentary is set to premiere in March. The producers have promised “some great iceboat footage from 1999” in the documentary.

‘Wizard of Zenda’ Documentary to Premiere on March 25, 2023

The Wizard of Zenda, a film about the life of sailing legend Buddy Melges, will have its first premiere at the Annapolis Film Festival March 25. Wizard of Zenda takes the viewer on a wild ride through the career of one of the greatest sailors in the history of the sport.

This is the untold story of Buddy Melges, a fiercely competitive but beloved sailor who won Olympic medals and championships, and his quest to capture the pinnacle of sailing, the America’s Cup. Melges was an entertaining character who shared everything he knew and refused to take himself too seriously. His intuitive, some would say mystical, powers to see and feel the wind, along with his home base of Zenda, Wisconsin combined to earn him the well-deserved nickname: The Wizard of Zenda.

Buddy Melges gets the checkers at the 2007 Northwest. Photo: Chris John.

Melges won the respect and admiration of his peers and adversaries. Many of sailings biggest icons were interviewed for the film, including 3-time America’s Cup winner Dennis Conner, Australian champion John Bertrand, former ESPN sailing analyst and America’s Cup winner Gary Jobson, and Bill Koch, the billionaire businessman who teamed up with Melges in the 1992 America’s Cup.

Quicklier Film Partners Executive Producer Anne Peterson chose long-time partner and filmmaker Mark Honer to write and direct Wizard of Zenda. “It’s been a long road, but we’re excited to share this amazing story,” said Peterson who grew up sailing the same waters as Melges at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. “Many people know about Buddy’s championships. But not many know how he used that winning platform to teach not just sailing, but lessons about humility, honesty, persistence and overcoming adversity”.

Through exhaustive research, the filmmakers uncovered film and video ranging from a 1946 regional regatta, when buddy was 16, to a world iceboat championship in 1991 which Buddy won at the age of 71. “We told sailors we were producing a film about Buddy Melges and doors magically opened,” said Honer. “The jackpot was getting unprecedented access to over 100 hours of behind-the-scenes archival footage of the 1992 America3 campaign.”

Quicklier Film Partners is partnering with organizations and sponsors to distribute the documentary through private screenings, events and film festivals. To learn more visit WizardofZenda.com.

Certain Uncertainty

Race Committee at Ullnasjön for DN Sweden Ranking Regatta 8.

Uncertainty is the only certainty there is – John Allen Paulos (received PHD from UW Madison)

There’s another tricky weather event sliding towards the Midwest this week. Europe is experiencing the same weather pattern as the DN class tries to find ice for the European Championship. Their primary site in Latvia received too much snow, and they are on the way to Lithuania today. I flew back last night, opting for the more familiar uncertainty of Wisconsin’s weather. A big thank you to DN Sweden for their hospitality at the Grand Masters and Ranking Regattas. What an experience!

The ice optimists (in all classes!) will have their boats ready for the Northwest at Lake Pepin in MN or local 4LIYC racing this coming weekend. Sleet and ice are on tap for the Madison area this week. With a 12″ base of ice, Kegonsa may be an option for club racing. Watch for the Northwest update on Wednesday, February 22, 2023 and the 4LIYC racing update on Friday, February 24.

If you don’t have plans for ice sailing this weekend, the Iceboat Foundation has you covered with certainty. Via Don Sanford:

Mary B fans…
If you have time on your hands this Sunday, February 26, 2023, come on over to the Monona Public Library, 1000 Nichols Rd. in Monona.
Gretta Wing-Miller and I will be guests of the East Side History Club. They invited us on the condition that we bring along our film, Mary B: Madison’s Legendary Iceboat (the fastest thing on ice). And, of course, we will!
Doors open at 1:30
Film starts at 2:00
Come early for a good seat

“Mary B, Madison’s Legendary Iceboat” Film Released

Screen shots from the documentary film.

Is there a better way to cool off on a sweltering summer day than by streaming a film about iceboating? Strap on your virtual helmet and creepers and watch Mary B, Madison’s Legendary Iceboat on demand, or order the DVD. Details here.

The 43-minute documentary film, produced by Donald P. Sanford, Gretta Wing Miller and Aarick Beher for the Ice Boat Foundation, Inc., tells the story of this Madison icon, the men who built and raced her and the efforts of the Foundation to restore and preserve her. It uses recently restored archival footage and interviews with sailors and Foundation members.

The DVD and the download include these special features:

  • The Stuart Cup
  • The Hearst Cup
  • On the Ice with Mr. Wright

Melges: The Wizard of Zenda, a Documentary


Buddy Melges Archives

An ice sailor who lives just down the road from Four Lakes and has sailed Geneva Lake on every iceboat imaginable is the subject of a documentary still in production. You may have heard of him, Buddy Melges, the Wizard of Zenda, Olympic Gold medalist, America’s Cup Winner, not to mention the iceboating titles he’s won. Watch for this film in 2022.
Documentary website and trailer here.

Legends of American Sailing
Harry “Buddy” Clemens Melges II
By Gary Jobson Former America’s Cup champion & ESPN sailing analyst
There are many great sailors around America, and some of them have extraordinary skills and achieved great performances on the water over many years. When I made the list of legendary sailors for this book there was one name that stood out above the others, Buddy Melges. Ask any top sailor who is America’s best, and Buddy will always be mentioned. His Gold Medal championship in the 1972 Olympics Games and winning the 1992 America’s Cup as a helmsman is just part of the long story of this gifted, gracious, helpful and productive American sailing hero. Buddy started out working for his father building Scows in Zenda, Wisconsin. He always joked, “Zenda is not the end of the world, but you could see it from there.” Zenda is an unincorporated village in the Town of Linn and the home of Melges Boat Works. Buddy and his wife, Gloria live a few miles north in Fontana on a hill overlooking Lake Geneva. One has to wonder, how does someone become as skilled in their sport as Buddy Melges?
Continue reading.

Buddy Melges extended his lead to first place at the 2007 Northwest Ice Yachting Association Regatta sailed on Lake Michigan at Menominee, Michigan.  Photo: Chris John





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