A Life That Dreams Are Made Of

A Life That Dreams Are Made Of

20′ banner made by Tim Stanton.

“He would have hated this.” Billy Mattison reminded the packed room at Gunderson’s Funeral Home about the humble nature of his father, Bill. The memories of Bill shared by those who had preceded Billy were unique and moving. It was a privilege to witness a group of highly accomplished individuals speak in awe of their friend. Here are a few highlights from the people invited by emcee Don Sanford to share their best stories.

Bill organized the building of a new hull for the world’s largest iceboat, Rick Hennig’s DEUCE. Rick recounted that experience with great affection and humor. When Bill saw the semi-truck full of Sitka Spruce roll into the shop parking lot, he turned to Rick and said, “That’s the stuff dreams are made of.”

Bill’s neighbor said that when Bill came over to watch him tinker in his garage, it was “like God himself coming to watch a mere mortal.”

“Yeah, I know a little about that.” America’s Cup veteran, Larry Malik, recalled Bill’s typically understated reply when asked if he could fix a photo processing machine during an AC Australian campaign. Larry shared the famous story of the day Bill took the film of the AC boat to the one-hour photo store, where he learned that the store’s processing machine was on the fritz. Bill fixed the machine and came back with the pictures.

Lon Schoor, Bill’s long-time Mendota Yacht Club A Scow partner, marveled at no matter how complicated the project; Bill was so organized in his thoughts that he didn’t have to write anything down and always made the deadline. He left us laughing with a story about how Bill schemed how they would sell the idea of buying an A Scow to their wives, Donna and Mauretta. Bill told Mauretta that Lon had purchased the boat, while Lon was to tell Donna that it was Bill’s boat.

Dr. Kyle Metzloff, a sailor, ice sailor, and UW Professor of Industrial Metal studies, spoke about Bill’s genius and ability to pick up new and complicated ideas. Having never dealt with computers, he learned to operate a mini CNC mill for creating scale model Mattison Circus parts. At an older age, Bill figured out computers.

Peter Harken shared his amazement at Bill and Paul Krueger’s work ethic. They never wasted a minute, not even in the bathroom where Peter assumed “they had a drill press installed.” Peter acknowledged those who traveled from afar, including New Jersey Skeeter sailor Dan Clapp and America’s Cup alumni from San Diego.

Sailing legend Buddy Melges came to the podium, fixing his steely blue eyes on Mauretta and the family for a full minute, not saying a word, holding the audience in his hand while he made us wait. Buddy spoke about their America’s Cup days and how remarkable it was for a guy who came from the Scow world; Bill could make a 12-meter sail faster. “He did not sail on it, but he made it faster when he worked on it.” (Later, I heard stories in the bar about how at least one of Bill’s modifications caused a stir with some AC engineers, but they calmed down when the boat speed increased.)

“He would have hated this.” Billy Mattison reminded the packed room about the humble nature of his father, Bill. The last to speak at Bill’s Celebration of Life, Billy had to follow some esteemed acts, giants of the sailing world, who had shared stories from the podium of the man’s genius. Billy’s poignant closing remarks emphasized the private family side of Bill and his devotion to his wife of 65 years, Mauretta, their children, Lynn and Billy, and their grandchildren.

“I think it is time for a dipper.”

On our way to Gundersons, Don Anderson and I delivered cakes to the Breakwater for the post-memorial reception sponsored by the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club and Mendota Yacht Club. The manager surprised us with the news that Mauretta had called with instructions that she would be picking up the bar tab. On Monday, unsure of the damage, the two yacht clubs offered to pitch in with the bill. Mauretta said no, adamant that Bill would have insisted on it. Thanks, Bill.
Debra Rosten Whitehorse

PREVIOUSLY
Home of the Volleyball(?) Champs
Nothing Fickler
Bill’s Circus Life
The Icing On The Lake”
“Fast Forward Since Birth”
“The Hard-Water Gang” with Bill Mattison at the 2001 ISA
Shooting the Breeze with Bill Mattison
Bill Mattison Inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame
Iceboaters Fingerprints
Willy St. Iceboat Shop Archives

Skeeter Dimensional

Skeeter Dimensional


Mad scientist (actually Professor of Industrial Studies in metal) Kyle Metzloff sent along these photos and an explanation:

Paul Krueger dropped off a old pattern for the Skeeter mast base. I will be making some castings, but redoing the pattern for future by 3d printing the pattern then casting in bronze.

 

Super Models

Super Models

Bill Mattison’s HONEYBUCKET Class A Skeeter created by Kyle Metzloff

Previous: Model B
As our summer starts winding down, it’s time to start thinking more about the upcoming season. To help get you in the mood, take a look at some more iceboat models including a special one from the modern era, Bill Mattison’s HONEYBUCKET Class A Skeeter which was created by 4LIYC DNer and noted modeler Kyle Metzloff. Stern-steerer/Nite class sailor Mike Peters shares his collection along with some photos of other models he received from a friend.

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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