The 1958 Northwest Regatta

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.
YOUTUBE VIDEO OF 1958 NORTHWEST REGATTA

FROM THE ARCHIVES OF JANE PEGEL DN805
1958 Northwest Regatta,
January 17, 18, 19
Gull Lake
From Kalamazoo Gazette

REACH CLIMAX TODAY IN GULL LAKE ICE REGATTA
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.

YACHTS SET FOR ANNUAL FREE-FOR-ALL
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.

DROPS SPAR
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.

DIRECTOR OF ICE YACHT REGATTA DRAWS PRAISE (Notes on winter classic)
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. .

Northwest Free For All Trophy History

Northwest Free For All Trophy History

Read: Oshkosh Ice Boat Club History & 1939 Northwest History by Harry Lund
All-around iceboater Andy Gratton let me borrow a rich archive of iceboat ephemera, photos, and records from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. As anyone who researches history can tell you, the information in libraries like this is filled with rabbit holes that lead you to unforeseen places, always different than what you originally intended.

1930 Oshkosh Ice Yacht Club Letterhead Logo

A report written in 1939 by Harry Lund about the history of the Oshkosh Ice Yacht Club led me to the 1940 Northwest regatta. The regatta was sailed on Geneva Lake in Lake Geneva, WI. It was the first time a Class A Skeeter, Jack Vilas in SUSIE Q, won the ten-lap Northwest “Free For All” race, where the winner is awarded one of the most beautiful trophies in our sport.

1940 Oshkosh Newspaper Northwest Report

The Northwest began in 1913, and the Free For All was the last race of the regatta to compare the speeds of the different classes of stern-steerers. The top two finishers in Class A, B, C, and D stern-steerers were eligible to race for the trophy. 1933 marked the first time the Skeeter class competed in the Northwest, and it only took them seven years to take the Free For All trophy from the stern-steerer class. The Skeeter class has continued their dominance of that race to the present day; Minnesota’s John Dennis is the current titleholder. Thinking about that day in 1940 when Jack Vilas in SUSIE Q became the first bow-steering boat to take home the big cup reminded me of National Sailing Hall of Fame member Jan Gougeon.

Back on Lake Geneva in 1981, Jan gamely lined up his DN with the Class A Skeeters of Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club’s Paul Krueger and Bill Mattison for the ten-lap finale. “It was a scary situation for Bill and me,” Paul recalled. “Jan didn’t realize how fast Bill and I were making the mark. To avoid him, I had to hit the mark, and Bill went to the outside.” From then on, DN sailors who qualified and wanted to compete in the race were allowed to borrow a Class A Skeeter. Jan’s good friend, Ron Sherry, won the 1997 race in a Class A Skeeter he borrowed from 4LIYC’s Bob Kau. (Interesting how Lake Geneva is where Northwest Free-For-All History has been made in 1940, 1981, and 1997!) Ron’s account of that race is a classic story, worthy of another good future post.

The trophies of the Northwest Regatta in 1913. Note the biggest of them all, the Free-For-All trophy

1913 Northwest Regatta Photos

1913 Northwest Regatta Photos


Northwest Regatta Page

Marcy Grunert recently sent a couple of vintage images that I had never seen from the first Northwest regatta, shot by photographer Arthur M. Conant of Menominee, MI. Arthur Conant most likely shot these pictures using a Kodak Folding Brownie 3a, which created a 3.25 x 5.5 inch postcard image.  (The first Northwest was sailed on Lake Michigan at Menominee in 1913. The Northwest was a competition to decide boat supremacy among the ice yacht clubs of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. Stern-Steerers ruled the ice back then before the bow-steering boats prevailed in the 1930s. Stern-Steerers and bow-steering boats still compete for the trophies of the Northwest.)

Marcy’s photos brought back memories of the late Bill Korsgard, a Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club member and postcard collector. Around 2000, Bill acquired a group of Arthur Conant 1913 Northwest postcards on eBay. The postcards offered a fascinating glimpse into the regatta through the eyes of a young Menominee man named Finn, who had written detailed explanations about the boats to a friend in Chicago. I have posted a few of these in years past, but Marcy’s photos motivated me to post the entire collection along with Finn’s notes.
Click on the red icons to reveal Finn’s notes.

SIRIUS

SIRIUS
“No need of telling you what boat this is. I don’t know what’s the matter with her this year. She can’t do a thing. I think it’s because Ed., working at the shoe factory now, can’t get out and give her his attention. Quimby ran it in the races. Parker pulled a corker off on Quimby at the minstrel. He told Harmon, who was interlockter (?) that an awful accident happened at the race that afternoon. Harmon asked him about it and he said they had to get out a searching party. Harmon asked him what for and he said to go out and find Jimmy Quimby.”

FLYAWAY

“Of course you don’t know this boat, but I’ll bet you’ll guess. This will answer your questions about the guys. It sure helped. She don’t raise anything like she did last year. The plank is a lot better now too, having some give. The trestle supporting the martingale broke and you can see how I wired it together.”

TROPHIES

“All the different cups. Menominee, Menekaunee, and N.I.Y.A. The big one in the center is the world championship cup SQUARE PEOPLE put up and won.”

PRINCESS II

PRINCESS II, a Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club boat built by William Bernard for Emil Fauerbach
“There is a brace on the spar on this boat take notice. Hello Lewis, this is the best I could get of the Madison boat but Bob is trying to get some better ones and if he does he will send you some. Notice where they have the runner plank on.”

RED BIRD

REDBIRD
“Redbird Oshkosh. She took the Association Class B Cup. The boat has solid wrought iron runners about 1/4 inch thick. They were just the thing for the snow we have and have yet.”

FLYAWAY

“Note the nose and [?] also the double set of pulleys. They didn’t work very good forward like that, so I moved the lower ones back to the pencil dot [?] but I haven’t been out since to see how they worked. The name I got on her is FLYAWAY. I could think of nothing better but just as soon as I do, I’m going to change it.”

COLD WAVE

“The COLD WAVE came in first in Class B the first of the three days but was beat out by the RED BIRD on Friday and didn’t finish Saturday. It was thought she would have won out if it hadn’t snowed.”

SQUARE PEOPLE

SQUARE PEOPLE, designed and built in New Jersey by Dr. Stanborough for the Petersons of Menominee, MI. SQUARE PEOPLE was the name of their furniture company.
Finn’s note on the postcard conflicts with newspaper accounts that mention the boat was made in NJ along with the Menominee boat AURORA.
“Menominee types. Strictly Menominee designed and Menominee made. This is the boat that is all the noise this year. She goes through snow and everything. The way that PRINCESS II beat her Friday is as follows: Along by the crack the ice was almost clear, the wind having blown the snow way over the crack. Peterson wasn’t wise to this but Fauerbach was. I guess the guy on the YELLOW KID must have told him. It was one tack against the wind and he had to run almost straight into the wind to make it but he made it all right and beat Petie out on that race.”

3 CLASS A

“PRINCESS, YELLOW KID, & SQUARE PEOPLE. Three boats in center with sails up.”

A CLASS START

“Note the plank on the PRINCESS II just above the word wind.”

MERCURY

MERCURY
“She’s a lot like the SIRIUS. The Sunday that they were here there was a hell of a big wind blowing, but the Oshkosh boats wouldn’t race as it was against the rules of their club. They went out though and run around the course a couple of times and it looked as though she was putting it over Peterson [SQUARE PEOPLE] but I couldn’t tell for sure. She went some though. She’s coming back when the PRINCESS comes when the ice is good and is going to race for the big World Champs Cup.”

STORM KING

“STORM KING CLASS A: Oshkosh type. Backbone extends about a yard beyond lower boom. Heavy frame.”

PRINCESS

PRINCESS [Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club boat, Madison, WI. Built by William Bernard for Emil Fauerbach.]
“Madison-style boat built as light as possible, with as little iron, steel and wire on as possible. Runner plank set far back and spar leaning back as far as possible. She’s some boat. Looks as though she might be a light wind boat, but she beat out Peterson [SQUARE PEOPLE] on the stormiest day. On the first day, she bumped into the Egg, I mean Lotha Smith Jr. and smashed her backbone right in two. Next day they got her fixed up just in time for the race with as pretty a backbone as she had when she came. Note how her spar, as well as the YELLOW KID [Class B boat built by Wm. Bernard] and how far back her plank is. She’s built as light as possible. Only one stay on each side. No guards to the back runner. I’m enclosing a rough sketch to show how she’s built. It’s not a very good picture but it will give you an idea of her.”

YELLOW KID

YELLOW KID, a Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club Class B Stern-Steerer built by William Bernard
“She came in third in Class B each of the 2 days. She’s built like the PRINCESS. She looks as though she might be a pretty good light wind boat. She beat out Prescott and Jennings though in the heavy winds. They came in third and fourth Thursday and Friday. The RED BIRD was the only B Boat that finished as the snow was too hard and deep.”

YELLOW KID

YELLOW KID, a Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club boat built by William Bernard.
“These boats it’s at the center of the backbone and these boats can go in some light wind. Then the [?] 2 x 6 connected from the end of the plank to the backbone and the 2 x 6 from the cockpit to the plank on each side. Although you can’t see them, Bob and I were out skiing with a couple of girls, had a great time. 
Finn”

STORM KING

STORM KING Oshkosh
“She’s built with the cockpit sticking out past the end of the lower boom, as were all the Oshkosh boats. The RED BIRD doesn’t protrude past the back of her sail as much as the others though. They’re heavy weather boats.”

1976 Northwest Regatta on Lake Mendota

1976 Northwest Regatta on Lake Mendota

Class E Skeeters line up to race at the 1976 Northwest Regatta on Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin. Photo: Greg Whitehorse

Greg Whitehorse posted this on the 4LIYC Facebook page.

Mid-70’s Northwest Regatta on Lake Mendota.
You are looking at just one side of the starting line, so I’ll guess there are probably 28, maybe more, Class E* Skeeters in this race. M-54 is Gary Sternberg’s “So What,” but I think Vic Whitehorse is at the helm for this race. That would be Dave Nelson’s M-150, “Tuff Ship” lined up next. Racing in the Skeeter class with 30-40 boats on the line was a blast back in the day.

Between the late ’60s and early ’70s, I believe club members helped build ten or more Class E Skeeters in Dave Rosten’s basement. It wasn’t unusual to see Dave, Paul Krueger, Bill Mattison, Jack Ripp, the guy who the boat was being built for, and a host of others all helping out. It was an incredible time.

Skeeter Ice Boat Club’s Sparky Lundberg aced out Paul Krueger for the Class A Skeeter win that year. It may have been the first year for PK’s rear seater.

 

 

January 21, 1976, Wisconsin State Journal: Paul Krueger’s first rear-seat Class A Skeeter.

1976 NIYA Regatta Winners:
Class A: No entry
Class B: WINTER BELL, B. Herman
Class C: TWIN BEDS, Bill McCormick
Class D: RED WITCH, Dick Slates
Class E Skeeter: Sparky Lundberg
DN Class: Jane Pegel
DN Class Junior:Mike O’Brien
Renegade Class: Elmer Millenbach RENEGADE III

*The Reason Class A Skeeters are called Class E Skeeters in the Northwest Regatta

The International Skeeter Association designates bow-steering Skeeters Class A as “Single place yachts, or two-place tandem Whose mast, when measured along the mast, does not exceed 28’-6″ from the deck to top of mast, including all mast and deck hardware.” Class A Skeeters carry a maximum of 75 square feet of sail. However, when Class A Skeeters sail in the Northwest regatta, they are listed as “Class E.” (When I was a kid, I thought the E stood for “Experimental.”)

Class A Skeeters turn into Class E because there was already a Class A, B, C, and D in the Northwest, and those designations applied to Stern-Steerers. Skeeters got the left-over E. It reminds us that the Northwest regatta is a Stern-Steerer regatta, organized in 1913 by ice yacht clubs, which only sailed Stern-Steerers at the time. 1936 marks the year that the Northwest recognized Skeeters as an ice yacht class.

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