Ice Sailors On The Hook

SHAZAM crew: Erik Sawyer, Andy Gratton, George Gerhardt,4LIYC Commodore Don Anderson, Jay Yaeso, Mike Waldo, Rich Sawyer, and Tony Abts, 

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.


Nite Recap

Via Nite Treasurer Maureen Bohlehber:

Nite Holiday Regatta
December 26 – 27, 2020

With a total of 19 boats over the weekend on ice that was as Hollywood as you can get, the Nites completed 13 races on Lake Puckaway in central Wisconsin, a great early season iceboating venue. The Nites competed for a Saturday, Sunday, and overall series.
The ice was so smooth you could not even hear your runners glide over the ice. These are the perfect conditions for ice boaters, hence the name “Hollywood Ice.”


With a large fleet in attendance, the competition was close. The 2020 Nite National champion, Chad Rechygl of Pewaukee Wisconsin, and Mike Jankowski of Green Lake Wisconsin battled it out throughout the weekend for the overall top spot. Split-scoring the event by days allowed sailors to try different settings and tactics. As they say, everybody has a favorite condition. Jim McCabe was the hot sailor of the weekend, cracking the top three on both days. Another local favorite, Byron Hill, also placed consistently in the top three. Chad Rechygl took first, Mike Jankowski second, and the Vandervelde brothers in the next two spots in the overall standings.


We were happy to see a strong showing of sailors from Lake Kegonsa and the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club as well, with Lars, Henri, Brad, and Don in attendance. They sailed fast and showed a considerable step in improvement from last year’s event. We were also lucky to have Daniel Hearn join in the racing and experience the close roundings and the back and forth position changes that make Nite racing unique and fun.


It was interesting to watch from the Race Committee view, learning from Deb Whitehorse, John Hayashi, and George Gerhardt. While Saturday’s course was more straightforward, the Race Committee had to chase the wind and change the track. When the wind settled in, the Nites sailed six races before the snow started to fly.

It was a memorable weekend of Nite racing. It was ICE COLD FUN!

HOOK Update: Tales to Tell

Rick Hennig’s THUNDERSTRUCK (Farr 60). Photo: Eric Tobias

Previous: Ice Sailors Set for the HOOK

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.


Ice Sailors Set for the HOOK

From left, Steve Orlebeke, Jay Yaeso, Mike “Wally” Waldo , George Gerhardt, Don Anderson, Erik Sawyer, and behind Erik, Andy Gratton. Behind Wally, Paul Scneeberger and Tony Abts, both from Green Bay.

Race Tracking
Scratch Sheet

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).


Windsurfing Championships @ Fond du Lac – Feb 5-10

Windsurfing Championships @ Fond du Lac – Feb 5-10

Andy Gratton & WISCONSIN enjoying the festivities at the 2015 WISSA on Lake Winnebago

While we wait for slightly warmer weather and the great Zamboni to arrive, George Gerhardt passes along news of an event that will  keep our winter instincts sharp, the WISSA Windsurfing Championships on Lake Winnebago at Fond du Lac. Not only is there windsurfing, it’s also the Sturgeon Spectacular, a big celebration of winter. Check it all out here.

February in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin can only mean one thing. Sturgeon Spectacular. We will be celebrating our 4th year in 2019 and will be welcoming back the Ice & Snow Sailing World Championships presented by Alliant Energy, The Wisconsin State Snow Sculpting Competition, Boogie & the Yo-Yo’z, Running of the Sturgeon Parade, an outdoor curling competition, the Inaugural Sturgeon Spearing and Beering event at Lakeside Park presented by Lakefront Brewery, and much, much more! Read more.