MISS MADISON to Iceboat Foundation

In the early 19th century, the first American ice yacht designers tested their ideas near Poughkeepsie, New York, giving rise to the Hudson River style of Stern-Steerer iceboat. Eighty years later, William Bernard, owner of a boat livery on Gorham Street on Lake Mendota refined the Hudson River design and named it after the city where he had grown up.

Many Madison-style iceboats came out of the Bernard Boathouse, winning prestigious ice yachting titles such as the Hearst, Stuart, and Northwest. Eventually, the Hudson River style became more popular, and William and his son, Carl, built the last Madison-style iceboat in 1927, naming her MISS MADISON. MISS MADISON actively raced with the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club. She also competed in the Northwest Regatta and for a famed trophy donated by newspaperman Randolph Hearst. Newspaper accounts and captions from the Bernard scrapbooks mention her skippers as Carl Bernard, Herb Teztlaff, and William Van Keulen. Carl Bernard stated that MISS MADISON “was the best hull ever built” in an interview on tape in the Wisconsin Historical Society archives.

The Bleck family of Monona, WI, bought her sometime between 1940 and the 1980s. Mari Ann Lichtfeld purchased her from the Blecks to surprise her husband, Richard Lichtfeld. Lichtfeld strived to keep her in period condition, which is unusual because most iceboat owners refashion vintage crafts with modern hardware. Lichtfeld and his kids would play hooky from work and school to take advantage of a perfect ice-sailing day on Lake Monona.
MISS MADISON is one of the best-preserved Madison- style ice yachts in existence, thanks to the efforts of her late owner, Richard Lichtfeld.

Mari Ann Lichtfeld donated MISS MADISON to the Iceboat Foundation this week. She’s now safely stored indoors, like she was at the Lichtfeld shop, with MARY B. Thanks to the Lichtfeld family for donating this piece of history.

On her way to join the MARY B.

Dick Lichtfeld left detailed instructions and photos showing how to rig this vintage boat.

Richard Lichtfeld: 1935 – 2021

“Remembered For Doing It All”

Richard “Dick” Lichtfeld of Monona, WI, passed away this week. He was a generous Renaissance man who filled his garages and storage sheds with unusual finds, vintage cars, and iceboats. He was the caretaker of a distinguished historic stern-steerer iceboat, MISS MADISON, the last “Madison-style” iceboat ever built by Carl Bernard in 1927. He kept her in period condition and raced in regattas a few times but was happiest sailing her in front of the Madison skyline on Lake Monona. Sometimes he pulled his kids and grandkids out of school to join him for a day of ice sailing because he knew that sailable ice was fleeting and the importance of living life to the fullest. In 2016, Dick enthusiastically opened his property for a 4LIYC iceboat show. I’ve posted photos of that weekend below. When the ice calls to you in the middle of the week, take the day off in honor of Dick Lichtfeld.

Here’s a video I put together from footage that Dick had given me a few years back.




1930 & 2002 Northwest Regattas

In honor of the 2016┬áVintage Iceboat Show and 4LIYC Annual Picnic, here’s a salute to MISS MADISON, one of the vintage stern steerers that will be set up along with MARY B, MENACE, and other iceboats. MISS MADISON, built around 1927, was the last “Madison style” that Bill Bernard ever built. The Hudson River style of ice yacht, such as the MARY B, ultimately proved to be a faster design. MENACE is also a Madison-style stern steerer.

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