National Sailing Hall of Fame members and ice sailors- from Left: Peter Harken, Jane Pegel, and Buddy Melges “All kings and queens are not born of royal bloodlines. Some become royal because of what they do once they realize who they are.” Pharrell Williams
Previous: Jane Pegel To Be Inducted into the NSHOF
A celebration to commemorate Jane Pegel’s induction into the National Sailing Hall of Fame was held at the Lake Geneva Yacht Club on Sunday, August 27th.
Susie Pegel reports:
Those in attendance at Jane’s party August 29th at the Lake Geneva Yacht Club included folks from Lake Geneva, Delavan, Madison, Pewaukee and Green Lake. And there was a surprise guest appearance from former DN world champion Mike O’Brien who flew in from New Jersey to say “hi.” Flowers had previously been sent to Jane from former DN world champion Henry Bossett. Mauretta Mattison sent regrets that she and Bill would be unable to attend the party. Many thanks to all the iceboaters who sent messages to Jane wishing her well and congratulations.
Excerpt from email sent to Jane from Dan Heaney:
“I am honored to be invited to the celebration of Jane’s selection to the Sailing Hall of Fame. I will miss the opportunity to hear the wisdom expressed by Jane regarding sailing, both hard water and soft water. Jane’s comments, especially those directed to my attention were always welcome and a positive contribution to my efforts as a race manager for the IDNIYRA. I look forward to the opportunity to see Jane in the future and will make it a priority to contact her and yourself on the occasion I have to be in Lake Geneva….we raise a toast to Jane in congratulations for being recognized for all the contributions made to the sport of sailing and the influence she has had on the sailors who have been lucky enough to meet her.”
Dan Heaney, Neenah, WI
Read: Oshkosh Ice Boat Club History & 1939 Northwest History by Harry Lund
All-around iceboater Andy Gratton let me borrow a rich archive of iceboat ephemera, photos, and records from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. As anyone who researches history can tell you, the information in libraries like this is filled with rabbit holes that lead you to unforeseen places, always different than what you originally intended.
1930 Oshkosh Ice Yacht Club Letterhead Logo
A report written in 1939 by Harry Lund about the history of the Oshkosh Ice Yacht Club led me to the 1940 Northwest regatta. The regatta was sailed on Geneva Lake in Lake Geneva, WI. It was the first time a Class A Skeeter, Jack Vilas in SUSIE Q, won the ten-lap Northwest “Free For All” race, where the winner is awarded one of the most beautiful trophies in our sport.
1940 Oshkosh Newspaper Northwest Report
The Northwest began in 1913, and the Free For All was the last race of the regatta to compare the speeds of the different classes of stern-steerers. The top two finishers in Class A, B, C, and D stern-steerers were eligible to race for the trophy. 1933 marked the first time the Skeeter class competed in the Northwest, and it only took them seven years to take the Free For All trophy from the stern-steerer class. The Skeeter class has continued their dominance of that race to the present day; Minnesota’s John Dennis is the current titleholder. Thinking about that day in 1940 when Jack Vilas in SUSIE Q became the first bow-steering boat to take home the big cup reminded me of National Sailing Hall of Fame member Jan Gougeon.
Back on Lake Geneva in 1981, Jan gamely lined up his DN with the Class A Skeeters of Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club’s Paul Krueger and Bill Mattison for the ten-lap finale. “It was a scary situation for Bill and me,” Paul recalled. “Jan didn’t realize how fast Bill and I were making the mark. To avoid him, I had to hit the mark, and Bill went to the outside.” From then on, DN sailors who qualified and wanted to compete in the race were allowed to borrow a Class A Skeeter. Jan’s good friend, Ron Sherry, won the 1997 race in a Class A Skeeter he borrowed from 4LIYC’s Bob Kau. (Interesting how Lake Geneva is where Northwest Free-For-All History has been made in 1940, 1981, and 1997!) Ron’s account of that race is a classic story, worthy of another good future post.
The trophies of the Northwest Regatta in 1913. Note the biggest of them all, the Free-For-All trophy
Another instance of finding a picture when looking for another one, here’s a big line-up of Skeeters on Geneva Lake at either an ISA or Northwest Regatta, sometimes in the 1980 or 1990s. If this looks familiar, drop me a line.
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?
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
Here’s the last “missing” installment from this series of videos. In this video, you’ll see how to wrangle a stern-steerer through the open water at the shoreline, typical of spring ice sailing.
Many thanks to 4LIYC Nite sailor Don Sanford for taking the time to find the nuggets in old movie footage and editing them into something worth watching.
Previous: Big Boats on Geneva Part 1.
Big Boats on Geneva Part 3