“Frank Tetzlaff: A Woodworking Genius”

“Frank Tetzlaff: A Woodworking Genius”


An old windowsill from Madison house remodel leads to an iceboating story posted on the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation website.
Previous: 1934 Northwest Regatta

By Don Sanford
Ask any Madison iceboater if they know who Frank Tetzlaff is, you’ll get an earful. They’ll probably bend your ears for hours about two revolutionary iceboats he designed—the Fritz and the Mary B. In 1930, Frank established himself as one of the foremost iceboat designers in the Midwest when he designed and built the 38-foot Class A[1] stern steerer iceboat, the Fritz, for Madison iceboater and furniture dealer Fritz Jungbluth. The Fritz was a work of art and radically different from her contemporaries. But in iceboats beauty is only skin deep. It’s speed that counts and the Fritz was fast–real fast, winning regatta after regatta, bringing honor to her owner and hometown. Continue reading.

FRITZ, designed and built by Frank Tetzlaff.

1952 Hearst on Lake Monona

1952 Hearst on Lake Monona

MARY B draws a crowd on Lake Monona.  Photos: Earl W Brown

In January 1952, Lake Monona delivered and the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club hosted the Northwest regatta and the Hearst Challenge. (The Hearst trophy was donated in 1903 by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst.) Lake Monona in the 1950s could be counted upon for sailable ice thanks to the soot pollution from the coal burning power plant on its northeastern shore. The downside for the Skeeters was that the coal dust very quickly dulled runners. Perhaps the coal cinders didn’t affect the big iron of the Stern-Steerer runners.

The three majestic Class A Stern Steerers that competed for the Hearst that year were 2 4LIYC boats and 1 from Oshkosh including the MARY B owned by O. T. Havey and skippered by Carl Bernard with crew Norm Braith and Charlie Johnson; FRITZ owned and sailed by Jim Lunder with Beauford Polglase; and FLYING DUTCHMEN owned by John Buckstaff of Oshkosh, WI and skippered by  Chuck Nevitt with crew Bud McDonald. MARY B was able to defend her title that year.The excitement of the regatta drew crowds and prompted the 4LIYC to set up a public address system at Law Park. Someone provided a play by play account during the racing.

These historic ice yachts are still with us today. Current owner of the FLYING DUTCHMEN, Dave Lallier in Fond du Lac, reminded me that FLYING DUTCHMEN is the correct name of the boat, not DUTCHMAN. The Van Dyke brothers from Milwaukee commissioned the FLYING DUTCHMEN in the 1930s, hence the plural designation. MARY B is back in Madison and owned by the Ice Boat Foundation while FRITZ is owned by Fred Stritt and is available for sale.

These color slides were originally posted on the Historic Madison, WI Photo Group Facebook page by the granddaughter of Earl W. Brown, the man who took them.

FRITZ & The “B”

FRITZ & The “B”

Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club stern-steerers FRITZ A5 and MARY B A4 on Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin c.1955.

A couple more photos from the Mary B Foundation of OT Havey’s vintage photographs.  Madison, Wisonsin’s OT Havey was the original owner of the historic MARY B stern-steerer. Above is an iconic shot for Madisonians – two of the most famous stern-steerers of the 4LIYC near the Edgewater Hotel on Lake Mendota sometime in the 1950s. It appears the crew of the FRITZ is pushing off back to the landing after joining club members who sailed over to the Edgewater for a late lunch and camaraderie. We still do this today!

The crew of the stern-steerer FRITZ pushes off towards home.

1947 Northwest

1947 Northwest

1947 Northwest: Post WW2 Boom Years Begin

After a 5 year hiatus because of World War 2, the first post-war Northwest was held at Oshkosh in 1947. 4LIYC’s FRITZ (with new owners, the Lunder brothers and Carl Bernard at the helm) won the A stern steerer trophy. Ed Rollberg, who would go on to bring the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant to the midwest a few years later, won the E Skeeter title. Iceboaters who served in WW2 came back with new ideas about boat building, particularly the great Elmer Millenbach. More about Elmer next time.
Shortly before the 1947 Northwest, Eastern iceboater, Ray Ruge, wrote an in depth article in Yachting Magazine about the state of iceboating in North America. Read it here.

1942 Northwest

1942 Northwest

1942 Northwest: WW2 Years Begin

The 1942 Northwest was sailed in Menominee, Michigan just 6 weeks after the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and would be the last one sailed until 1947. Neenah Ice Yacht Club’s Jim Kimberly won the E Skeeter title in PHANTOM II. There was no entry in the A fleet that year. The “queen of the ice lanes”, FRITZ, stayed on her home ice that season. (Read more about FRITZ coming out of “exile” here.) In fact no 4LIYC skippers competed in the Northwest that year. Here’s a Capital Times article detailing the winners of the regatta.

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