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

Save the Swap Meet Date: Oct 22, 2023 @ Green Lake, WI

Ron Sherry inspects the Class A Skeeter LOST KAUS at last year’s swap meet at the Delavan Yacht Club in Delavan, WI.

2023 Annual Wisconsin Swap Meet Hosted by the Green Lake Ice Yacht Club

Date: Sunday, October 22, 2023
Time: 9 AM – Noon
Location: Town Square, Green Lake, WI

Our Green Lake Ice Yacht Club friends are preparing for their turn at the yearly iceboat swap meet. This event was initially established by Bob and Jane Pegel of the Skeeter Iceboat Club and was held in Williams Bay, WI for many years. Nowadays, the swap meet rotates between the Skeeter Iceboat Club, Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club, and Green Lake Ice Yacht Club.
Stay tuned for more details!

The Skeeter Iceboat Club Celebrates 90 Years On Ice

The Skeeter Iceboat Club Beauvais Fleet. Date unknown.

Our friends to the south on Geneva Lake in Wisconsin will soon celebrate a milestone, the 90th anniversary of the founding of their club. March 4th, 2023, is the 90th anniversary of the Beau-Skeeter Iceboat Club, now known as the Skeeter Iceboat Club.

The Women of Iceboating
Four-Runner Iceboat Built by SIBC Commodore Robert Ferris
Wish You Were Here – Skeeter Iceboat Postcards & History

Via Jane & Susie Pegel of the Skeeter Iceboat Club

Williams Bay is known as the “Ice Boat Center of the World.” Iceboating was formalized as a sport on the lake with the formation of the Beau-Skeeter Ice Boat Club of Southern Wisconsin on March 4, 1933. The first meeting was held at the home of Arthur Anderson in Williams Bay to organize the club and elect officers. (Art Anderson was an important part of the village of Williams Bay. He owned Bay Oil Company which was directly behind today’s sailboat rigging area on Geneva Street) Elected as officers of the new club were: Commodore Art Anderson, Vice Commodore Don Waterbury, Rear Commodore Chester Granath.

Skeeter Iceboat Club on Geneva Lake, c. 1930s

It was decided dues would be $3 per year, payable at 50 cents a month or in a lump sum. It was decided a burgee be adopted –a triangle 10″ X 16″ with a red background and a white figure, sample to be submitted by Mr. Beauvais. Suggestions were made and discussed as to the time of races and ladies’ races. The club By-Laws stated the object of the club “shall be to encourage ice yachting, to promote the social interest and good fellowship of all persons interested in ice yachting and to stimulate and promote races under reasonable and uniform rules.” Also, “The Northwest Ice Yachting Association sailing rules shall apply to this club.”

There were motions to change the club name at a special meeting held on December 10, 1938. Some suggestions were: Geneva Lake Ice Boat Club, Geneva-Delavan Ice Yacht Club, Big Foot Ice Yacht Club, Arctic Ice Yacht Club, Williams Bay Ice Boat Club, Lake Geneva Ice Boat Club, and Skeeter Ice Boat Club. After considerable lobbying and voting, the Skeeter Ice Boat Club was approved. On March 9, 1940, the club

A 30 mile gale added thrills to the Northwestern Ice Yachting Association regatta on Lake Mendota at Madison, Wisc. January 30, 1938. Here two machines are “hiking”, which is like “heeling” in a sailboat as H.V. Fitzcharles of Chicago, left, sailing High Voltage, and Harry Melges of Williams Bay, Wisc. at the helm of Fancy Flight put up a heated fight to head each other.”
I came across this photo on ebay from a company that specializes in original press photos and snapped it up. NIYA records show Harry Nye as the winner of the 1938 Northwest Skeeter class. Skeeters first competed in the NIYA in 1936. Skeeters didn’t have springboards at that time which must have made for quite an exciting ride in a 30 mph gale.accepted the letter ” I ” to put on sails to represent Delavan and Geneva lakes in the International Skeeter Association.

At the regular spring meeting on March 8, 1947, Fleet Captain Art Anderson suggested that a starting procedure for the races be written. The commodore suggested Art appoint a committee to present such a procedure at the November meeting.

At the regular spring meeting on March 13, 1948, club label pins were discussed, and the subject was dropped after Norm Hansen voted “no” twice. It was moved, seconded, and passed that the official racing season shall not extend beyond March 15, thus constituting an amendment to the By-Laws.

At the regular fall meeting on November 13, 1948, a shotgun presented by the Fox Lake Ice Yacht Club to the Skeeter Ice Boat Club was shown to those present. An engraved plate furnished with the gun gave the presentation date as April 3, 1948.

At the November 12, 1949 meeting, it was decided a bulletin board would be posted at Henri’s tavern and the Bay Oil Station by noon on Saturdays as to where and when the club would sail the next day. Also, Norm Hansen brought up the subject of a new class of ice boat called the DN-60. A committee was appointed to look into the possibility of such a boat.After the November 8, 1952, meeting was adjourned, Bill Stenus showed the Fox Movietone roll on iceboating.

The minutes of the March 14, 1953 spring meeting indicate Mel Jones suggested that the trophy dinner be an OLD TIMERS PARTY and reunion of former members and friends in as much as this year was the 20th anniversary of the club’s founding.

The Skeeter Ice Boat Club still exists today and runs races on Lake Como, Delavan Lake, and Geneva Lake and hosts many regattas.

1933-36 Art Anderson
1936-39 Donald Waterbury
1939-41 Chester Granath
1941-42 Robert Ferris
1942-45 World War II
1945-49 Robert Ferris
1949-50 John Clifford
1950-52 Mel Spence

1934 season champion Don Waterbury
ladies champion Lucille Fitzcharles
1935 season champion Don Waterbury
ladies champion Vera Granath

1. GALE, Bettye Nye
2. RANDOM SHOTS, Ethel Koehler
3. HI VOLTAGE, Lucille Fitzcharles
4. SU JAC, Ariel Clayton
5. ARIEL C, Sue Vilas
6. VEE GEE, Vera Granath
7. HOLY SMOKE, Helen Campbell
8. HEL MEL, Ariel Clayton
9. WARHORSE, Rose Anderson
10. SANDY, Medora Adams

1. GALE, Harry Nye
2. SKIP IT, Chester Granath
3. HI VOLTAGE, H. Fitzcharles
4. BLUE BILL IV, Don Waterbury
5. HOLY SMOKE, Don Campbell
6. WARHORSE, Art Anderson
7. SU JAC, Jack Vilas
8, SANDY, Charles Sawyer
9. RANDOM SHOTS, Franz Koehler
10. ZEPHYR, Bill Mereness
11. SU JACK, Jack Vilas, Sr.
12. FANCY FLIGHT, Henry Ferris
13. X, Mike Ambrose
14. MICKEY FINN, Eph Banning
15. TORMENTOR, Robert Ferris
16. ARIEL C., H. MacMurtrie
17. GONE WITH THE WIND, William Brown
18. JACKIE B, Dr. Sanders
19. RIFF, Tucker
20. GREEN GHOST, Mel Jones
21. HEL MEL, Mel Spence
22. RAFF, Barton

The 1958 Northwest Regatta

While we wait for Wednesday’s announcement about the 2022 Northwest Ice Yacht Association Regatta, this newspaper clipping posted by Chris Smith of Michigan on the Iceboating Facebook group, is a timely reminder of this historic regatta, first sailed in Menominee, Michigan in 1913. The video link below his comes by way of Shirley Cross Fortune, from her father, Detroit Ice Yacht Club’s Wally Cross. Jack Ripp is pictured next to Jane Pegel and represented the 4LIYC with his second place in the Free-For-All.

1958 Northwest Regatta,
January 17, 18, 19
Gull Lake
From Kalamazoo Gazette

Elmer Millenbach of Detroit, favorite in the Renegade class, won his third and fourth straight heats Saturday to practically assure himself of a Northwest Assn crown. Gull Lake’s Bob Smith has a good lead in Class B over three Gull Lake foes and is a heavy favorite to sew up his division title today in his speedy “Alcoholic” after winning his fourth straight heat Saturday. Remi DeBlaer of Detroit has a substantial lead in the DN 60 class with three firsts and a second. C. H. (Skip) Boston of Detroit dropped out of contention after a first and two seconds when he disqualified himself in the fourth heat race. Weather continued perfect for the event with fast ice and a fine following wind for the fast boats — they reach speeds of 100 miles an hour or more — to cover the 1.3 mile racing course. There are several boats that dunked in a pressure crack near the island on Gull Lake Saturday and several relatively minor mishaps. One boat was badly damage, but none of the pilots were injured.

Final class Races to Open Program
Fate will play a big hand in determining at least two championships in the annual Northwest Ice Yacht Assn. regatta which winds up today at Gull Lake. Although the final heat race and the championship free-for-all race, matching the two top finishers in each heat race of the six divisions, still remain on the agenda, much of the doubt about class titles has vanished.
The heat race is at 10, the free for all about 1:30. The title contenders suffered boat failures Saturday in heat races to drop from title consideration.
Gull Lake’s Phil Wunderlin, after winning the first two heats of the Class C division handily, saw a broken plank in his boat force him from the third heat race and drop far behind his Gull Lake opponent, veteran Jim LaRose. And Jack Ripp, of Madison, WI, a prime contender in the featured Class E race, fell from title contention in that class when his boat sustained a spar failure in the fourth heat race.

Ripp, who entered the fourth heat race in a deadlock with Bill Perrigo of Pewaukee, WI, thus falls far behind his Wisconsin foe, who has a first, two seconds and a third entering the final day of competition. While Ripp and Wunderlin suffered sad blows from Lady Luck, three other favorites kept up their amazing regatta showing. Don Ward of Oshkosh, WI, who has won 10 straight Class D titles, stretched his heat victory string in the current regatta to four Saturday to take an ample edge of Gerry Sciott and Jack Smith of Gull Lake.

Busiest man at the Northwest Ice Yacht assn regatta at Gull Lake this weekend is genial Gerry Scott, Commodore of the Northwest Assn. Under Scott’s supervision the regatta has been run off in fine style, drawing praise from more than 90 entries from four Midwestern states.
But Scott probably would enjoy this year’s regatta more if he were able to compete himself.
Because of arthritis, Scott has been sideline from actual competition in this year’s regatta and has been forced to watch Jack Smith pilot his “Hiki-No” in a great battle for Class D division honors. Scott hopes to be back at the helm of “Hiki-No” in next year’s Northwest Assn. regatta.
Other notes from the regatta:
Next year Northwest Assn. regatta has been awarded to Oshkosh, WI…Chris Smith of Holland, an executive for Chris-Craft Co, commuted from Gull Lake to his office daily by plane, taking off and landing on the slick ice surfaces of the lake…
There’s a three-generation entry in this year’s regatta. Robert and Jean Zwicky of Pewaukee, WI, are entered individually in the E Class, while sons Henry and Bob are individual entries in the DN 60s. Kick Kidney, father of Mrs. Zwicky, serves as mechanic for the family ice yachts. He’s a former competitor….
Dave Rosten of Madison, WI lost his yacht “Trump” when it shattered after a collision with Chris Smith of Holland….A new point scoring system was approved by Northwest Assn. members at the annual business meeting. It awards first place finishers in each heat 1000 points, second place 910 points, third 834 and down the list comparatively.
The weather continued perfect at the regatta and many competitors found it hard to remember when the regatta was held on the first weekend scheduled in many years…Scott disclaims any credit for the conditions….Conrad Miller, Vice Commodore of local and Northwest units, was able to race in the regatta, but was out of contention entering the final day….His son, Mason, was another local entry….There were plenty of spectators on hand for Saturday’s races. The Gull Lake shoreline was dotted with fans and amateur photographers… The regatta attracted nationwide interest. It was covered by newspapers from most Midwestern cities plus at least one national magazine (Time) as ice yachting made its biggest hit here….The regatta probably won’t return to Gull Lake for at least five years. .

Iceboat in National Sailing Hall of Fame Museum

Visit the musem.

Ever since Buddy Melges’ induction in the first class of 2011, ice boaters have numbered among the elite sailors honored by the National Sailing Hall of Fame (NSHOF). Other hard water inductees include Peter Barrett, Olaf & Peter Harken, Jan & Meade Gougeon, Bill Bensten, Herbert Lawrence Stone (who authored books and articles), Bill Mattison, and Jane Pegel.

The sailing community’s full recognition of the sport of ice yachting has culminated with the inclusion of an iceboat in the new NSHOF museum in Newport, Rhode Island.

When visitors enter the impressive interactive exhibition hall, they will notice six boats hanging overhead from the exposed wooden rafters of the historic former  armory. One of those six is an iceboat representing our community and those who live to “Think Ice.”

The NSHOF asked Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club Nite sailor Don Sanford (the driving force behind Bill Mattison’s induction), myself, and others for an iceboat. The museum had hoped to hang a Class A Skeeter, but the wide plank would have taken up too much space. They chose one that would fit – the most popular iceboat globally, a DN.

Peter Harken asked that the boat not be a “fixer-upper” but a fully fitted racing boat. The NSHOF accepted Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club member Doug Kolner’s offer to donate his complete modern DN.

The DNs natural wood hull and plank, built in a small garage in Monona, Wisconsin, are true to the roots of the DN’s humble beginnings at the Detroit News hobby shop in the 1930s. Doug built the boat using standard DN plans, and it symbolizes all the iceboat builders who enjoy kicking up some dust and mixing epoxy in their garage shops.

Current members of the NSHOF’s influence is evident in the fact that the boat was built using Gougeon brothers epoxy and Harken brothers fittings technology. Doug recognized NSHOF member Bill Mattison and Green Lake Ice Yacht Club’s Joe Norton as the builders who had influenced his iceboat building know-how.