Carl Bernard, Camp Van Dyke, John Buckstaff, and Andy Flom sitting on the DEBUTANTE on Lake Winnebago in 1934. John Buckstaff is holding the Stuart Cup.
John Buckstaff Archives
If iceboating had a hall of fame, Lake Winnebago sailor, John Buckstaff would undoubtedly be among the first to be nominated. Buckstaff’s Oshkosh roots go back to his grandfather, who was born in 1799 and came from New Brunswick, Canada, to Oshkosh in 1850 and started a sawmill.
An early mention of Buckstaff in the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern newspaper was in 1903, when he was 14 years old and recognized as a skilled scow sailor. “His first experience was gained, when as a boy in knickerbockers, he constructed an iceboat and sailed it on the frozen surface of Lake Winnebago. Here he learned to be quick and certain with the tiller and to handle the sail and tack.”
Buckstaff was in Menominee, Michigan, when the Menominee, Marinette, Wisconsin, and Oshkosh ice yacht clubs formed Northwest Ice Yachting Association in 1913. The morning after a banquet at the Hotel Menominee, where 200 ice yachtsmen gathered for a feast, they organized the Northwest, which they patterned after the Inland Lake Yachting Association, a soft-water scow regatta still going strong today.
In addition to his Northwest victories, Buckstaff won two prestigious stern-steerer titles, the Stuart and Hearst Cups. In 1903, The Kalamazoo Ice Yacht Club in Michigan persuaded F.A. Stuart, maker of Stuart’s Dyspeptic pills, to donate a trophy for ice yachts carrying 850 square feet of sail or less. Later that year, a Kalamazoo club member wired newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, asking Hearst if he would donate a trophy, in his name, for the ice boat race. Hearst complied and deeded a gold-lined silver cup.
Buckstaff was a stern-steerer man and would point BLUE BILL, FLYING DUTCHMAN, DEBUTANTE III to victory on the ice at the Stuart, Hearst, and Northwest regattas. FLYING DUTCHMAN has remained on her home lake of Lake Winnebago with Dave Lallier. DEBUTANTE III is in Menominee with Mike Derusha.
DEBUTANTE III was a Hudson River-style stern-steerer built in the famed Poughkeepsie, New York iceboat shop of Jacob Buckhought. The “DEB” with 600 square feet of sail was considered the most lightweight iceboat in the world per square foot of sail carried. DEB was the first iceboat to use aluminum runners, a much superior material than the cast iron runners traditionally used. The Oshkosh Daily Northwestern reported that the “DEB” held a speed record of 119 miles per hour clocked on Gull Lake in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
John Buckstaff passed away on the morning of Sunday, January 10, 1960, the weekend when the iceboating community gathered on Lake Winnebago for the Northwest, the regatta he had helped to begin. In a movie-like ending, DEBUTANTE III, skippered by E.W. Stroshine, won the Class A championship trophy that same day.
Northwest Class A Stern Steerer
1923 BLUE BILL, J. D. Buckstaff
1926 BLUE BILL, J. D. Buckstaff
1939 BLUE BILL II, John Buckstaff, Owner; Tom Anger, Skipper
1932 (December) FLYING DUTCHMAN, OIYC, J. C. Van Dyke, J. D. Buckstaff (skippers)
1920 DEBUTANTE III, OIYC, J. D. Buckstaff
1939 DEBUTANTE III, OIYC, J. D. Buckstaff
Wisconsin State Journal. February 14, 1935. A time when sports columnists followed the stars of ice yachting and rooted for the home team. The 4LIYC’s FRITZ with Carl Bernard at the helm won the Stuart that year.
Tradition, Fun and New Friends 2022 Renegade Class Championship
-Skip Dieball R555
What a fun weekend in Madison Feb 18-20. The collection of iceboating enthusiasts really encompassed the spectrum of abilities, which makes the experience so fun. The way folks light up when they have first ride…and the hardened veterans that tweak their set ups.
The Renegade Class has been around since 1947 (75 years!). Through the years, the boat has stayed true to its One-Design roots and has produced some of the best iceboaters the sport has seen. This year’s championship fielded a talented group, which included 5 past class champions.
I’m new to the class, but not new to iceboating. I’m a generational sailor from Toledo, Ohio where Renegade sailing was quite popular when I was growing up. My father, Denny Dieball, sailed #76 through the 70s and 80s.
My brother and I cut our teeth in the local DN fleet as we grew up. As life moved on, I became a professional sailor and spent the winter months in Florida from regatta to regatta. Iceboating was just a fill in. In the early 2010s, I got serious about DN sailing and worked with my friend Ron Sherry to get geared up and competitive. I loved it and was hooked again, but I always had great offers for soft water sailing in Florida, so it wasn’t until this past summer that I told myself I needed to sail and have fun on my own and iceboating fit the work schedule nicely.
With the help of Deb Whitehorse and Daniel Hearn, I got in touch with Don Anderson and purchased a Renegade and took it back to Chicago and started rehabbing. Just like so many fleets in both hard and soft water sailing, it is truly the PEOPLE that make the experiences special. These folks helped me get set up with a boat and offered any advice that I had a question for.
I had some unscheduled quarantine time, so I dug into the boat and before long was applying new paint and working to make sure it would be ready for the maiden voyage…which would be later in January in the 4LIYC club races.
My first few races I could tell that the “One-Design” aspect of the Renegade would really appeal to me. The racing was close and speeds so similar. I love that and having only the equipment with the boat, it made focusing on sailing a lot easier for me. No lugging runners and sails to the starting box, etc.
This year’s Championship was what seems typical of multi-day iceboating events. The weather not fully cooperating, our Friday and Sunday skunked with BIG winds. I didn’t mind as it allowed me to get to know more folks that I hadn’t previously met. The Renegade class members are a great group and everyone has a great passion for the boat, history and tradition. Saturday’s provided plenty of variety to make up for the down time.
Before getting into some of the racing details, hat’s off to the Race Committee. The wind was predicted to shift all day and it did! They did their best to race all classes in the best breeze available and did an incredible job getting three races per division to ensure the minimum number of races were met to call a regatta. Great job!
The first race was in a dying breeze. In fact, at the start, it was difficult to get the boats rolling. For me, I was lucky enough to catch a small zephyr and get the momentum going. I was able to keep it going to the top mark and only a few from the other side crossed. Not having raced a Renegade in this light of wind, I was happy to get round the 1st mark. With the voice of Ron Sherry in my head, I focused on “don’t worry about the angles, just keep the boat going”. It was all I could do to focus on that and not lose my mind when I saw someone catching that next puff. There were boats moving, boats stopped and I really lost track of where I was with the leaders and those that were right behind. I felt fortunate to keep the boat going as nearly everyone at some point stopped. I finished right behind past champ Tim McCormick for a 2nd. Many fell behind and others had pushed back to the pits, resulting in DNFs. Tough opening race, but the breeze was shifting and increasing so there was hope.
I’m sure optimism was low with the entire group of sailors, but the wind did fill in. By the time the Renegades were up for a race, it was over 10 knots. This made for a great race. Super fast and competitive. For me, I came off the 2 starting position and had a great start to lead the fleet from the left. We all had a little something the right didn’t have and our side looked great and I was leading (!!!). I had that Ron Sherry voice in my head again (I know that’s dangerous LOL) saying “just go fast Skip…keep the pedal pressed”. I was so happy to have opened up a huge lead…you know one of those leads you never lose. Unless you are a newbie and get soft in the upper right corner and watch the fleet get wound inside! UGH! I managed to fend off Jim Gluek at the top mark, but he proved why he was the reigning 2-time champ by putting me in his dust to win the race. Mentally, it could have been a downer for me, but I was just psyched to be in the top and happy to get another 2nd.
Our last race was in some bigger winds, maybe gusting 13-15. Again starting in the 2 position, I had a good start, but had to tack under Don Anderson who was smokin’ from the left edge. Again our group crossing on port had a little special puff and crossed the group from the right. What tight racing. Don, myself and Mike Derusha were nearly three wide at the top and flying downwind. All three of us were jockeying for position at the bottom with Don edging myself and Mike right behind. I was able to point a little higher than Don and get inside of him to take the lead. I got around the top in good shape and sent it downwind again. Last beat, I had a nice lead. Nothing could go wrong, right??? How about déjà vu? Mike gets wicked up inside of me as I go soft on the right again. NOT AGAIN! Like the previous race with Jim, I was able to hold off Mike at the top, but it was a true dual on the run. Mike split with me to have starboard advantage at the bottom, but I caught a nice puff and finished for the win. With 2,2,1, I was ecstatic. What a great opening to the event. My goal of top 5 was looking quite good.
After the long day, it was fun to rehash the excitement back at the launch. I really appreciated all the kind words and truly was having a great time learning, talking, meeting folks in the class.
The forecast for Sunday was big winds. Bigger than Friday’s abandonment, so it would have been easy to play the odds and finishing counting scores, but I kept focus and took the runners back to the hotel get to get the edges sharp and focus on the next day. As luck would have it for me, the winds were too much for sailing and the regatta was called off. I’ve been on both sides of this one. Sitting 2nd and dying to go, but being in the lead “at the cocktail party” is never a bad plan if you can do it.
Renegade Class champions from left, Andy Gratton 5th, Ron Rosten 4th, Greg McCormick 3rd, Tim McCormick 2nd, and Skip Dieball 1st.
You know, the racing seems to be the “story” of an event, but let me tell you about the people in the Renegade Class. So many are so generous with their time and volunteerism. It keeps it going. And for those that embraced the newbie….Don Anderson for a wonderful introduction to “Renegading”, the McCormicks for showing me the fun side of Madison, Mike Derusha and Jim LaFortune for the talks at the hotel. What a great collection of personalities.
Special thanks to those that helped me get organized and fast. Deb and Daniel continued to help as leaders of the 4LIYC and involvement me as a newbie. Ron Rosten became a friend right away as he helped me get my runners tuned up. He’s so generous with his time…I can’t thank him enough. Ron Sherry for the tips and encouragement. Mike Boston for his tips and encouragement (and really fast sail, by the way!). Ken Sabin who always helps and lends perspective. It’s been great and I can’t wait for the next one!
Wisconsin Skeeter Association Trophy. Photo: Gretchen Dorian.
Ashwaubenon, WI iceboater Jay Yaeso doubled his racing time and fun by bringing his Class A Skeeter and Stern-Steerer to Menominee, Michigan, on March 5-7, 2021. Jay sums up the weekend in this report. Scroll down below his recap to see a few of Gretchen Dorian’s Skeeter photos.
Skeeter sailing and Stern-Steering haven’t been exactly easy these past two winters. Mother Nature and COVID19 tagged teamed and put a beat down on us. That all ended abruptly the weekend of March 5-7, 2021, when a total of nine Class A Skeeters and eight Stern-Steerers landed at Menomonie, Michigan, courtesy of world-famous Renegade sailor Mike Derusha.
Mike spent countless hours evaluating the local conditions and determined it was green light go for all involved. He nailed it! Perfect landing and ice conditions.
The threat of the Mackinaw icebreaker coming through had us on red alert; however, the Coasties held off their icebreaking efforts the remainder of the weekend.
Day one Friday was all about the Skeeters. Conditions were perfect, a light 5-10 mph southeaster, and we completed four races.
John Dennis (JD) in the U194 and Ken Whitehorse piloting the M197 were the boats to beat. Both displayed blistering speed in this light condition. Most impressive is watching the legend Paul Krueger M165 sail at 81 years young! A true inspiration for any iceboater! Class act! The ice stayed hard all day with full sunshine. Rounding out the Friday fleet was Tom Hyslop V738, Leon Lebeau D888, and Jay Yaeso U311.
Saturday brought out three more Skeeters, Mark Isabell V30, Steve Orlebeke V500, and Alex Peterson V137. The day started with a light northwesterly, and Skeeters and Stern-Steerers shared a racecourse.
The Wisconsin Stern Steerers Association started race one of their championship regatta series. This race was by far the longest iceboat race I have ever experienced. My Stern-Steerer, HAYWIRE, was the only yacht to finish, and what a weird finish it was! She completed the race upwind as a 180-degree wind shift hit on the final leg. It was a grueling race that the Race Committee declared abandoned because of time limit infraction. The incredible wind shift made it easy on the Race Committee because the 180-degree wind shift flip-flopped the course.
The Skeeters sailed downwind and commenced race five of the weekend. Ken Whitehorse was hooked up and won the race. The fresh breeze locked in again from the southeast at 5-10 mph, which made it another great day. U194 and M197 were the boats to beat, with the M165 securing second place in race five and V30 showing much speed in race seven.
The Stern-Steerers plugged away throughout the day and managed to race three more races with the Class A boat MICHIGANDER sailed by Erik and Ritch Sawyer acing every race. Once again, proving a Class A Stern-Steerer is the ultimate ride! HAYWIRE chased the MICHIGANDER, followed up by the remainder of the fleet. Dave Lallier, Mike Kroll, Mark Weiner, Max Runge, Joe Terry and Class D winner Andy Gratton.
Upon completing the day’s racing, Wisconsin Skeeter Association’s morale Officer Ken Whitehorse presented JD the Bottle Trophy. All participants consumed some of Jameson’s whiskey bottle, which capped off a glorious day of Skeeter and Stern-Steerer racing. Following the Bottle Trophy celebration, the WSA gathered at Jozwiak’s Bar and Grill, home of the delicious and delightful hamburger know as the “Wabash” and killer homemade pizza.
Sunday arrived with light conditions with a forecasted south southeast wind at 10-15 mph. The light air gave the fleet leisure set up time. When the clock read 11 AM, we had 11 mph of wind which kept building all day. The Skeeters finished their series with the final race deciding who won the weekend series. JD prevailed with Kenny on his heels. Great to see newcomers Leon Lebeau and Alex Peterson join the Skeeter fleet! We are all looking forward to racing with these guys!
The WSSA wrapped up their championship with the MICHIGANDER winning race five, and HAYWIRE launched and sailing on two runners most of race six for the final race win. Great to see all the familiar faces with lots of new ones. We now can put the Skeeters and Stern-Steerers away fast and ready for the 21-22 season.
A weekend like this happens with a lot of behind-the-scenes help. Special thanks to Deb Whitehorse for all her support, to WSSA Race Committee Ann Gratton, and Mary Jane and Steve Schalk for tabulating and posting all results. Thank you to Mike Derusha for inviting us all up to Menominee. Thank you to Schoelgels Bayview restaurant for letting us drive through their parking lot and lawn to access this great sheet of ice, and Ken Whitehorse for all his work as WSA morale/trophy officer. Not to forget all competitors, thank you to everyone who showed up put in a tremendous effort to make this a most excellent weekend of sailing. Thanks for the incredible memories!
Jay Yaeso U-311 C-47
The Skeeter group toasts JD for winning the “Bottle Trophy.” From left, Jay Yaeso, Steve Orlebeke, Mark Isabell, Ken Whitehorse, Paul Krueger, John Dennis (JD), Eric Hyslop, Tom Hyslop, Leon Lebeau.
As told to the Editor by Ken Whitehorse
The Madison-based Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club Skeeter Fleet of Paul Krueger M165 and Ken Whitehorse M197 relentless search for ice finally paid off this past weekend at Menominee, Michigan, where they enjoyed 3 days of racing and camaraderie.
Earlier in the week, they set up on the west end of Lake Mendota on Tuesday in 40 mph winds and a 20f temperature. They checked ice with the 4LIYC ATV, and Ken sent out the word to the other Skeeter guys that “all systems go, ice looks great” in anticipation of Wednesday racing.
Tom Hyslop V738 arrived Wednesday morning to find the launch quickly disintegrating. The lake ice was still holding, and Ken proposed that they take turns at the wheel in his boat. 4LIYC Commodore Don Anderson arrived with the orange marks and the club’s Nebulous flotation device. The Dane County Lakes Patrol warden visited the landing, and Ken said, “a long talk ensued.”
Ready to leave for Oconto and adventure.
Rather than trying to sail, Ken and Paul decided to pull off the trailer. Tom Hyslop and son Eric Hyslop assisted with boat disassembly and loading. When Ken hauled the trailer off the lake with his Mule ATV, the 8000# Bulldog trailer jack was damaged and bent. Ken remarked that “seven sets of Skeeter runners in the trailer might have been a bit much.” That afternoon, word came from Iceboat Central U311 Jay Yaeso about ice on Lake Michigan near Oconto, Wisconsin.
Bright and early Thursday morning, Ken went to the Past Champions Iceboat Shop and fired up his blowtorch to heat the trailer-crank cherry-red and fixed the roller wheel. Paul and Ken shoved off for Oconto to rendezvous with Tom Hyslop. Oconto’s ice was tremendous, but ice fishermen blocked access to the lake because the fish were hitting there.
Thankfully, Mike Derusha R188 called Paul and reported that Menominee, Michigan had plenty of ice and told them to “come on up.” The three ice seekers didn’t waste time making the 30-minute drive to Menominee. Mike met them at the landing with a big smile and welcoming arms. They thanked Mike for taking care of the Skeeter fleet. Ken said Mike’s response was, “M fleet helps us; we help you.” Ken texted Jay, informing him to spread the word that Menominee was the place to be. Tom ended the evening by holding up a PBR nightcap and uttered, “we ride tomorrow.”
The conditions at Menominee were perfect for three days of Skeeter racing. The Skeeters are grateful for Eric Hyslop’s help setting up the marks and helping the fleet. Thanks to Mike Derusha for providing trees. JD and Tom were instrumental in setting our racing courses. Thanks to Steve and Mary Jane Schalk in Fontana, WI for tabulating the scores.
The week started with just three Skeeter sailors getting together on Lake Mendota to sail before the ice went terrible. We chased ice, and we were lucky to find it in Menominee, where we experienced a club-racing-like atmosphere. We just happened to have a bunch of trophies to make it more fun. No one is in charge of the Wisconsin Skeeter Association. If there’s ice, the Wisconsin Skeeter Association racers will be there.
Stern-Steerers are one of photographer Gretchen Dorian’s favorite subjects to point her camera
Stern-Steerers are one of photographer Gretchen Dorian’s favorite subjects to photograph. Gretchen came over the bridge from Northern Michigan to photograph the great gathering of iceboats in Menominee, Michigan, over the weekend. She’s editing all the images and will have the high-resolution versions available on her website for purchase. She uploaded fifty photos to Facebook and has allowed iceboat.org to post them for those of you who don’t use Facebook. Here’s the first batch, the Stern-Steerers from their 2021 Wisconsin Stern-Steerers Association Championship. Gretchen would also like to thank Mike Derusha for helping her get out two miles to the Stern-Steerer race course.