PK enjoying his Cadillac ride in his Class A Skeeter on Lake Kegonsa, Sunday, March 5, 2023. Photo: Ethan Brodsky. See all of them on the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club Facebook page. Ethan edited and uploaded the Renegade pictures last night. Stay tuned for more of these photos on this website.
This time of year, when both the weather and the Fat Lady are warming up, it’s only the faithful who show up for possible ice sailing. What looked to be a questionable weekend turned out to be loads of fun. On Saturday morning, the ice had firmed up nicely, but there didn’t appear to be a lot of wind, as our launch area was on the protected shore. Undeterred, as the rest of the faithful had what we’ll call a casual setup pace, I pushed off to check things out. Once clear of the point, Chaos, my Renegade, hooked up immediately. For about the next hour, I explored the entire lake, never seeing any ice to be concerned about. By about 11:00 or so, the rest of the fleet made their way out to the .9 mile course set up by our esteemed Treasurer and Saturday PRO, Jerry Simon, assisted by the Goddess of All Things Ice Sailing, Deb Whitehorse. It became apparent that racing might be a challenge at this point. And since we were now conveniently located on the Springer’s side of the lake, we decided the wise call would be to head to lunch. We summoned our Ice Uber, a red Bombardier with license DX 4967, driven by Jerry, who promptly delivered us to our destination. Delicious lunches were had by all. And one beer, but not by an iceboat pilot.
Shortly after 1:00, we decided it was time to give it a go. By the time the first flag dropped, the ice had softened up quite a lot with the increasing temperatures. The Renegades went off on port and the DNs went off on starboard. The first lap was great for everybody, but then the combination of slushier surface and lighter wind turned the remainder of the race into a pushing contest. The former runner and the former triathlete, both with bad knees, continued their battle until realizing the RC had taken down the bottom mark. The sailor who prefers a supplemental push at the start and the one who had some work done on his ticker, were much smarter than the over-the-hill athletes. They retired after the first lap chuckling to themselves watching two knuckleheads try to sail in slush without enough wind. Chris Berger in his DN was able to keep her going for three laps, so he was our one race overall winner.
Hoping the forecasted afternoon wind would arrive, we made our way back to the pits, some with motorized assistance. After an hour or so of visiting in the pits, the breeze did indeed fill in. The surface was slushy in spots, but we now had enough velocity to blast right through. The DNs ventured back out, along with Greg McCormick and me in our Renegades. We had a wonderful afternoon just sailing around. Once it started to drizzle, we decided it was time to call it a day.
When I pulled up to the ice Sunday, it was already a great day. It warmed my heart to see my friend, Tim McCormick, on the ice setting up his Renegade. Tim has been fighting a more important battle, so I was thrilled to see him. And joining the optimism for the day, were Kenny and Pk setting up their A-Class Skeeters, with the newly MacGyvered DN Western Region ATV stationed nearby. As the morning progressed, many guests arrived with Nites and DNs. It was wonderful to meet so many new people who share our passion. Also joining was a couple who came all the way from the Twin Cities just to check out ice sailing. They’ve been following the action on our website, so with an open weekend available, Greta and Handan (sorry, doc, if I just sent your name to the ER) to see if they could get a ride. After a tour of the various boats and a spin on the motorized kick sled, they took turns driving my Renegade assisted with the new boat-pusher Kenny made for the WR-ATV. With the coach just astern, “left-right-sheet in-sheet out” were the only instructions needed. They both did great and also took turns in Tim Mower’s DN. Hope they’ll join us again!
By mid-afternoon, the breeze had filled in nicely. With the, now, pretty slushy conditions and wise age of our A-Skeeter pilots, they elected to do flying starts for their races. We’d wind them up with the WR-ATV; they’d get themselves in close formation and pass through the line together to start each race. It worked great and PK and Kenny had a ball. At least until PK’s mast dropped near the top mark. You’ll have to get those “dets” from him on that. The Renegades ripped off four races, each won by a McCormick. And the DNs also notched four, with Matt Meyer setting the pace.
Back in the pits, it was a group effort to get everything off the ice using the aluminum ramps to protect the ice. Andy McCormick showed up at that time. It was either a meeting of the Irish Republican Army–Madison Chapter, or a discussion about the Northwest. Maybe both. Daniel Hearn
Even as we wait to get back on the lake, ice sailing shops have been keeping busy. The DN Western Region ATV gets a complete make over thanks to 4LIYC Skeeter sailor, Ken Whitehorse.
Via 4LIYC Commodore Daniel Hearn:
Not sure what it is about ice sailing that attracts people with little use for idle time and a penchant for ingenuity, but the sport is flush with such individuals. In Madison, Ken Whitehorse matches the profile perfectly. I always call him Kenny. Probably because it feels to me more fitting for his youthful spirit. He’s one of those guys who is older than he looks, with the same mischievous sparkle in his eyes that I see in my grandson. And a head of hair worthy of a rock star. Honestly, I don’t know Kenny well, but I know he’s got a huge heart. If it were not for Kenny, we wouldn’t get to see PK (Paul Krueger) on the ice ripping it up anytime 4LIYC is in action.
If you’ve ever been to Kenny’s shop, you’ll learn instantly that he is also Madison’s MacGyver. The “Past Champions Iceboat Shop” is housed in a building that used to be a Whitehorse Body Shop. Back in the day, I’m told it was stuffed with race cars, when the bill-paying cars were pushed out of the way. Now it’s stuffed with decades of ice sailing gear, each with a unique story Kenny would be happy to tell. And various motorized vehicles seemingly close to successful ignition, but just not quite there yet. Kenny has a very impressive “To Do” List.
I am certain his personal list would be shorter, if he weren’t doing stuff for others all the time. Over the last couple weeks he’s created the DN Western Region ATV Version 2.0. Thanks to Kenny, this machine will now be the envy of the ice sailing world. V2.0 is sporting a shiny new muffler, even though a local dealer told us it couldn’t be replaced. And that 4WD that wasn’t working? A new switch assembly made the orange 4WD indicator light shine like a Christmas tree. With the remaining maintenance items addressed, it was now time to macgyver. First up was the hitch. It’s always been kinda janky, so Kenny welded up a heavy duty reinforcement bracket. Even for “that-hurts-my-back” tongue weight, the hitch is now good-to-go. And for the “don’t-kid-yourself” tongue weight trailers, the Kenny Tongue Jack Sled, which he created last season, now has a rock-solid place for attachment.
Not satisfied with just rear-end upgrades, Kenny MacGyver decided V2.0 needed a combination boat pusher and fold up scoring table on the front end. This machine is now MONEY! If you’re a DNr, buy Kenny a PBR the next time you see him. If you’re not a DNr, buy him a PBR anyway. You’ll be particularly grateful when V2.0 shows up to push you back to the pits when the wind dies.
Paul Krueger M165, Ken Whitehorse M197, and Bill Mattison M143. Class A Skeeters, c. 1980s
The subject of sailing on Lake Koshkonong, about 30 minutes south of Madison, came up recently on the 4LIYC Facebook page. Koshkonong looks inviting as you drive past. It was a reasonable question to ask, why not Koshkonong?
Well, 4LIYC members and other ice sailors just “know,” and here’s how:
C Skeeter sailor Pat Heppert remarked, ” When I lived in WI, I spent years driving by and checking it. So tempting many times when it looked like glass ‘from the road.’ But whenever you walk it, all sorts of WTF problems show up. I finally gave up and concluded Koshkonong is just not meant for iceboats. The root source of the problem is the highly variable water level, which causes all the subsequent problems.”
The definitive proof came from a Mattison-Krueger-Whitehorse adventure on Koshkonong back in the 1980s.
Ken, Bill, and PK
There was a big setup area. PK and I went tearing out to the lake. We saw spring bubbles to port and starboard. It was a gauntlet of spring water bubble-ups, like aerators. There were so many we could only turn around once we found a big area. As we sailed back to shore, we couldn’t follow our old runner tracks too closely because we had already busted through the ice on the way out. Bill Mattison said he was ready to push off and shook his head. ” I tried to tell you guys about this place, but you guys shamed me into it. “But How Would You Know”
We had a 24′ rake back mast, so we only needed 3 to set up the Skeeters. We considered ourselves so fortunate to get out of there that no one said a word about it as we went into the smoky tavern for a dipper.
Via Greg Whitehorse, “I think Iceboating lends itself well to Photoshopping some photos. Played around with this one from today’s setup, on Lake Monona, on my phone. Ken Whitehorse M-197, Paul Krueger M-165.”
Skeeter sailors Ken Whitehorse and Paul Krueger rallied the 4LIYC troops to Lake Monona on Thursday for some spring sailing. Renegaders Mike Ripp and Greg Whitehorse joined them, and more boats are setting up this morning for what could be the last day of sailing on Lake Monona. 61F on Saturday with a half-inch of rain could take out the landings. So get out there today to enjoy the best lake we’ve had this season.