ENTERPRISE III: Ahead Of Its Time

ENTERPRISE III: Ahead Of Its Time

One of the earliest front-cockpit Class A Skeeters in iceboating, designed and built by Harry Whitehorse, c. 1976. Photo: Gary Whitehorse

Gary Whitehorse recently came across this previously unknown photo in his collection. “Came across this negative looking for something completely different. My Dad, Harry’s, front seat “A” Skeeter, Dad in foreground , 1976ish. Not many pictures of it, so I was happy when I found it.”

He posted it on the 4LIYC Facebook page and it solicited a lot of questions and comments.  ENTERPRISE III was an aluminum-hull front-cockpit Class A Skeeter designed and built by Harry Whitehorse in the mid 1970s. Gary’s brother, Greg Whitehorse, remembers that it was heavy and “…even today’s front-seaters are on the heavy side. Could have used a wider plank and a less drafty sail. It did ‘kink’ the aluminum skin on its initial cruise (which if I remember, was on rough, snow covered ice, and a windy day), but the kink didn’t get worse. Another interesting thing about this boat was the sheeting system. My Dad wanted to steer it like a race car, with a steering wheel. So he made a cleat on a traveler and track that he could operate with his legs and feet. It really was kinda neat. He said it worked good.”

Iceboaters Skills at Land Sailing – 1984 and 2018

Iceboaters Skills at Land Sailing – 1984 and 2018

4LIYC Renegader Jim Nordhaus, Bill Petsch of New Zealand, and Hobie Alter competing at the 2018 Blokart North Americans at Ivanpah. Photo: Gary Terrell

4LIYC Skeeter sailor Gary Whitehorse sails his converted iceboat on the Ivanpah dry lake near Las Vegas in 1984.

Ice sailors have been making the spring pilgrimage to the “cathedral of land sailing”, the playa at Ivanpah, for several decades. Pewaukee Skeeter skipper Bill Dale has been at it the longest, sailing in NALSA events for 40 years. 4LIYC members Jim Nordhaus, Geoff Sobering, Scott Geotz, Kyle Metzloff, and Wayne Schmeidlin have been competing in Blokart regattas there for the past several years.
At this year’s Blokart North Americans, Jim Nordhaus’ iceboating skills helped to take him to second place overall in Performance (think Gold fleet) and first in his fiercely competitive division. A Blokart speed record of  77.7 mph was set by Scott Young and Dave Lussier on the last day of competition. Read more about that on Scuttlebutt.
Gary Whitehorse recently shared photos and memories on Facebook of the time he sailed his iceboat ENTERPRISE at Ivanpah.

Gary Whitehorse posted the following on Facebook: “1984, we thought we would try our skills at land sailing. Ivanpah Dry Lake was not far from where we lived in Lake Havasu, AZ. I finished 4th in Class 2 (the fastest class at the time) at the World Land Sailing Competition. There are many good stories on how this all came together.
The race course was announced on the starting line. A yellow paper taped on the hull were filled with maps of the various courses. Being a novice at this sport, I had not memorized them. I never lead a race, although got up to 2nd a few times. The boat was very fast, but the big, sticky tires scrubbed off to much speed when changing direction.”

Gary’s brother, Greg added to the story: “I remember you called me from Arizona and asked if Bob Kau and I could convert the Enterprise into a land sailor. Paul Krueger had all the stuff, it would be easy you said. Well, Bob and I worked late into the night for a few nights to get it ready. (Some of the late nights may have been more to do with a well stocked fridge at Bob’s shop now that I think of it). Ron Rosten was going to tow it out there for you. A few weeks prior to sending it out West, I had tipped it over on Lake Kegonsa. Although damage was minor, I neglected to fix the steering pedals and all that you had to push on were the pipe ends. You weren’t thrilled about that.”

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