Previous: Tales To Tell, the 2020 Hook Race
2021 Hook Race Results
Jay Yaeso assembled another crew of ice sailors for the July 24th, 2021 Hook Race, a challenging 189 nautical mile race on Lake Michigan from Racine, Wisconsin, to Menominee, Michigan. (Thankfully, their rig stayed up this year.) Between them, I count about ten stern-steerers, 5 Renegades, an A-Class Skeeter, and some vintage Skeeters. Other ice sailors who competed include Fred Stritt in HASTEN and Rick Hennig in THUNDERSTRUCK. Rick broke his time record from last year, completing the race in 20:20:46.
Previous: Tales To Tell, the 2020 Hook Race
Ashwaubenon, WI iceboater Jay Yaeso doubled his racing time and fun by bringing his Class A Skeeter and Stern-Steerer to Menominee, Michigan, on March 5-7, 2021. Jay sums up the weekend in this report. Scroll down below his recap to see a few of Gretchen Dorian’s Skeeter photos.
Skeeter sailing and Stern-Steering haven’t been exactly easy these past two winters. Mother Nature and COVID19 tagged teamed and put a beat down on us. That all ended abruptly the weekend of March 5-7, 2021, when a total of nine Class A Skeeters and eight Stern-Steerers landed at Menomonie, Michigan, courtesy of world-famous Renegade sailor Mike Derusha.
Mike spent countless hours evaluating the local conditions and determined it was green light go for all involved. He nailed it! Perfect landing and ice conditions.
The threat of the Mackinaw icebreaker coming through had us on red alert; however, the Coasties held off their icebreaking efforts the remainder of the weekend.
Day one Friday was all about the Skeeters. Conditions were perfect, a light 5-10 mph southeaster, and we completed four races.
John Dennis (JD) in the U194 and Ken Whitehorse piloting the M197 were the boats to beat. Both displayed blistering speed in this light condition. Most impressive is watching the legend Paul Krueger M165 sail at 81 years young! A true inspiration for any iceboater! Class act! The ice stayed hard all day with full sunshine. Rounding out the Friday fleet was Tom Hyslop V738, Leon Lebeau D888, and Jay Yaeso U311.
Saturday brought out three more Skeeters, Mark Isabell V30, Steve Orlebeke V500, and Alex Peterson V137. The day started with a light northwesterly, and Skeeters and Stern-Steerers shared a racecourse.
The Wisconsin Stern Steerers Association started race one of their championship regatta series. This race was by far the longest iceboat race I have ever experienced. My Stern-Steerer, HAYWIRE, was the only yacht to finish, and what a weird finish it was! She completed the race upwind as a 180-degree wind shift hit on the final leg. It was a grueling race that the Race Committee declared abandoned because of time limit infraction. The incredible wind shift made it easy on the Race Committee because the 180-degree wind shift flip-flopped the course.
The Skeeters sailed downwind and commenced race five of the weekend. Ken Whitehorse was hooked up and won the race. The fresh breeze locked in again from the southeast at 5-10 mph, which made it another great day. U194 and M197 were the boats to beat, with the M165 securing second place in race five and V30 showing much speed in race seven.
The Stern-Steerers plugged away throughout the day and managed to race three more races with the Class A boat MICHIGANDER sailed by Erik and Ritch Sawyer acing every race. Once again, proving a Class A Stern-Steerer is the ultimate ride! HAYWIRE chased the MICHIGANDER, followed up by the remainder of the fleet. Dave Lallier, Mike Kroll, Mark Weiner, Max Runge, Joe Terry and Class D winner Andy Gratton.
Upon completing the day’s racing, Wisconsin Skeeter Association’s morale Officer Ken Whitehorse presented JD the Bottle Trophy. All participants consumed some of Jameson’s whiskey bottle, which capped off a glorious day of Skeeter and Stern-Steerer racing. Following the Bottle Trophy celebration, the WSA gathered at Jozwiak’s Bar and Grill, home of the delicious and delightful hamburger know as the “Wabash” and killer homemade pizza.
Sunday arrived with light conditions with a forecasted south southeast wind at 10-15 mph. The light air gave the fleet leisure set up time. When the clock read 11 AM, we had 11 mph of wind which kept building all day. The Skeeters finished their series with the final race deciding who won the weekend series. JD prevailed with Kenny on his heels. Great to see newcomers Leon Lebeau and Alex Peterson join the Skeeter fleet! We are all looking forward to racing with these guys!
The WSSA wrapped up their championship with the MICHIGANDER winning race five, and HAYWIRE launched and sailing on two runners most of race six for the final race win. Great to see all the familiar faces with lots of new ones. We now can put the Skeeters and Stern-Steerers away fast and ready for the 21-22 season.
A weekend like this happens with a lot of behind-the-scenes help. Special thanks to Deb Whitehorse for all her support, to WSSA Race Committee Ann Gratton, and Mary Jane and Steve Schalk for tabulating and posting all results. Thank you to Mike Derusha for inviting us all up to Menominee. Thank you to Schoelgels Bayview restaurant for letting us drive through their parking lot and lawn to access this great sheet of ice, and Ken Whitehorse for all his work as WSA morale/trophy officer. Not to forget all competitors, thank you to everyone who showed up put in a tremendous effort to make this a most excellent weekend of sailing. Thanks for the incredible memories!
Jay Yaeso U-311 C-47
As reported yesterday, squalls made for some wild rides during the Racine Yacht Club’s HOOK Race downwind from Racine to Door County on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan. Apparently there were 5 boats that lost rigs, including Jay Yaeso’s SHAZAM, proving again that sailing on Lake Michigan can be more challenging than ocean racing in big “sleds” – something 4LIYC Commodore Don Anderson who has sailed a few Transpacs related to me yesterday. SHAZAM’S mast “oil-canned” (compressed) Saturday afternoon during a 50 mph squall with 8 – 10′ waves. Thankfully, all crew were OK and they were able to pull into Sheboygan after 4 hours on the motor where they met up with Steve Orelebeke who had been sailing on PEERLESS. Steve and crew were forced to pull into Sheboygan because the waves pushed too much water into the hatch. I believe that race tracking did show that Fred Stritt and HASTEN made it to the end of the race. There were quite a few DNFs, possibly 18.
However, there was one group of ice sailors who made HOOK history and “absolutely shattered a Hook race record” by 3 hours, Rick Hennig (owner of DEUCE) and the crew of THUNDERSTRUCK. From crew member Eric Tobias’ Facebook feed:
20 hours, 20 kts of boatspeed, 47 knot peak wind speed, hurricane rain, lightning sky, one exploded spinnaker, one exploded jib, several wipe outs, one absolutely shattered Hook race record, a passage through Death’s Door and one incredibly wild ride. We made it to the finish safe with minimal damage and injuries. Thankfully we didn’t find a new meaning for our boat name (we didn’t get struck by lightning). Go Thunderstruck.
Expect to hear some stories about the HOOK race of 2020 during those times when we are standing on the ice waiting for wind.
UPDATE JULY 19: Andy Gratton checked in with the rest of the crew names that I missed. He also wrote with news that the rig collapsed yesterday during a squall which ended their race. He adds, “All are safe, no holes in the boat. We decided we did not want to do that again.”
Several area ice sailors are gathered this morning at the Racine Yacht Club for the 37th annual long distance Lake Michigan HOOK race from Racine to Death’s Door in Door County, WI. Pretty much every class of ice sailing is represented in this race including the Skeeters, DNs, Renegades, and Stern Steerers. 4LIYC Commodore Don Anderson, Renegader George Gerhardt, Stern-Steerer guys Andy Gratton, Mike “Wally” Waldo. and Erik Sawyer will be sailing with Jay Yaeso on SHAZAM (PHRF2). Skeeter and DN sailor Steve Orlebeke is on PEERLESS (PHRF2). Rick Hennig, who owns the biggest iceboat in the world, DEUCE, is sailing his new Farr 60 THUNDERSTRUCK (PHRF1). Stern-Steerer sailor Fred Stritt is sailing HASTEN (PHRF 4).
Sawyer Mafia “Erik & Ritch” working on runners for the ‘Gander @ the 311 skunk works… Good iceboaters as the dog days of summer are here.