Ever since Buddy Melges’ induction in the first class of 2011, ice boaters have numbered among the elite sailors honored by the National Sailing Hall of Fame (NSHOF). Other hard water inductees include Peter Barrett, Olaf & Peter Harken, Jan & Meade Gougeon, Bill Bensten, Herbert Lawrence Stone (who authored books and articles), Bill Mattison, and Jane Pegel.
The sailing community’s full recognition of the sport of ice yachting has culminated with the inclusion of an iceboat in the new NSHOF museum in Newport, Rhode Island.
When visitors enter the impressive interactive exhibition hall, they will notice six boats hanging overhead from the exposed wooden rafters of the historic former armory. One of those six is an iceboat representing our community and those who live to “Think Ice.”
The NSHOF asked Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club Nite sailor Don Sanford (the driving force behind Bill Mattison’s induction), myself, and others for an iceboat. The museum had hoped to hang a Class A Skeeter, but the wide plank would have taken up too much space. They chose one that would fit – the most popular iceboat globally, a DN.
Peter Harken asked that the boat not be a “fixer-upper” but a fully fitted racing boat. The NSHOF accepted Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club member Doug Kolner’s offer to donate his complete modern DN.
The DNs natural wood hull and plank, built in a small garage in Monona, Wisconsin, are true to the roots of the DN’s humble beginnings at the Detroit News hobby shop in the 1930s. Doug built the boat using standard DN plans, and it symbolizes all the iceboat builders who enjoy kicking up some dust and mixing epoxy in their garage shops.
Current members of the NSHOF’s influence is evident in the fact that the boat was built using Gougeon brothers epoxy and Harken brothers fittings technology. Doug recognized NSHOF member Bill Mattison and Green Lake Ice Yacht Club’s Joe Norton as the builders who had influenced his iceboat building know-how.
A Warren-Detroit automobile and Carl Bernard’s YELLOW KID stern-steerer. YELLOW KID was one of the 10 stern-steerers on the racing program for that day.
The Four Lakes area received another 5″ of snow yesterday making October 2019 the snowiest on record at 8.1 inches. I researched the previous years with snowy Octobers with the hope of finding a correlation between October snow and early ice sailing. There wasn’t enough data, but during the search, I stumbled across this 1916 newspaper article about a race between a “6 cylinder Warren Detroit auto” owned by Walter Haspell and 10 Madison stern-steerers on Lake Monona. The article notes that Mr. Haspell, an avid ice sailor himself, had previously “pitted his automobile…against the ice yachts but the found the course too slippery”. No word whether the race was run or who won. Click on the newspaper clipping to enlarge it.
Of course you can’t have a post about automobiles vs. iceboats without this classic film from Lake St. Clair, posted below.
From the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections: “Lake Mendota ice rink” Photographer: Meuer, William Date: 1919-02 ,
While we wait for the Great Zamboni and for the big Wisconsin lakes of Green and Geneva to come online, enjoy these images Peter Fauerbach found in the University of Wisconsin Digital Collection.
The forecast looks encouraging for iceboating in Wisconsin.