1949 Four-Runner Iceboat Newsreel

Screen shot from USA: ICE YACHTING ON FROZEN RIVERS IN ILLINOIS (1949) British Pathe. Harry Melges sails a 4-runner Skeeter.

Previous: Iceboat Tech That Never Caught On
Early ISA 1941 – 1942 Video
Watch the 1949 Newsreel here
Iceboat researcher Henry Bossett has unearthed yet another interesting discovery: a 1949 newsreel chronicling the International Skeeter Association regatta held on Fox Lake in Illinois. This vintage footage, accompanied by newspaper clippings, documents the presence of a four-runner iceboat helmed by Harry Melges, who happens to be Buddy’s father and a member of the Skeeter Iceboat Club. Observe that the fourth runner was positioned at the stern, deviating from the standard practice seen in other configurations where two runners were typically placed at the front. Adding her own memories to this historical account is Jane Wiswell Pegel, a high school student at the time.

Jane Pegel remembers:

I think the 4-runner boat belonged to Bob Ferris. I was in high school. My first iceboat race was at the Fox Lake ISA. I was first at the windward mark in the ladies’ division in a 20 foot Mead (skeeter.) But I did not know how to sail downwind  and ended up second in ladies overall. It snowed for the drive home.

Ben Lampert’s 4-Runner Skeeter Plan

Illustration from Wings On The Ice

Ban Lampert’s 4 Runner Skeeter from the Carl Bernard Scrapbook Collection

The Crawfish

An unusual iceboat from the Richard Lichtfeld collection is up for auction on a website. Many years ago, Richard purchased the CRAWFISH from the Eibisch brothers in Columbus, WI. They presumably built the boat using plans published in a DIY magazine, potentially Modern Mechanics, in the 1930s or 1940s. Download the plans in a pdf file. The auction ends on July 19, 2023.

1954 Northwest History

DN iceboat plan c1950s from the files of John Bluel

1954 Northwest Archives
Since we are on the subject of the Northwest regatta, Kenny Beal, great-grandson of a long-time 4LIYC member, John Bluel, shared some of his grandfather’s documents with the club, including a report from Northwestern Ice Yachting Association Secretary Frank Meyer about the 1954 Northwest.

Rather than the typical three-day event, the regatta was held over two weekends in Pewaukee because of challenging weather conditions. The 4LIYC’s Carl Bernard won the A Class Stern Steerer title in MARY B, competing against Skeeter Iceboat Club’s Lou Loenneke of Lake Geneva.

1954 was the first year that the DN Class competed in the Northwest. The DNs had one race in bad weather, and the Northwest officials decided that the fleet would sail the remainder of their races in the Detroit area “as all the entries were from that vicinity.” Skip Boston won that first Northwest DN title.

This American Boy c 1953 and Now

Previous: Another Ice Sailing Cover: Have the Time of Your Life

4LIYC Nite sailor and MARY B group member, Don Sanford, was reviewing some 1953 footage filmed on Lake Monona and noticed this young man sailing by on an iceboat. The boat looks similar to the plans published in the 1952 American Boy magazine posted here yesterday, March 24, 2020.

Below are photos of Andy Gratton’s boat PEANUT (aka Face Plant Boat) modeled after the plans in the same magazine.  He made it for his son years ago and has sailed it a number of times.

PEANUT and the famous Hudson River Stern Steerer JACK FROST which was visiting Lake Winnebago in 2013.  Click here to see video of JACK FROST being set up on that day.

Chapman’s Iceboat Plans of 1768

Speaking of iceboat plans, here are scans of some the earliest plans for ice yachts on record from Fredrik Henrik af Chapman’s book,  ArchitecturNavalis Mercatoria  published in 1768. (Benjamin Franklin commissioned a set of iceboat drawings from the Dutch in 1767, one year earlier than the publication of Chapman’s book.) Chapman, born in Sweden to English parents, is considered to be the first naval architect.

Though many in the ice sailing world have been aware of these plans for quite sometime, they were new to me. My post about stumbling across the iceboat plans that Benjamin Franklin commissioned prompted Alexander de Voss to take the time to scan and share Chapman’s plans with us which are based upon traditional Dutch ice yachts.

A few words about Alexander de Voss. I met Alexander on Lake Orsa in Sweden this winter when his ice sailing club De Robben trailered their vintage boats from the Netherlands for a week of cruising. (Previous: Where It All Began)  He and his son brought a vintage DN and a really cool small-scale Monotype. In 2010, Alexander, built a historical shipyard in order to preserve local old vessels, materials and shipbuilding techniques. If you like wooden boats, read The Historical Shipyard of Alexander de Voss and Shipyard “Klaas Hennepoel” – Warmond to learn more about this functioning museum.