HONEYBUCKET Evolution

HONEYBUCKET Evolution

Steve Orelebeke sails in HONEYBUCKET XIV, the last Skeeter built by Bill Mattison. Steve has won several major regattas sailing HONEYBUCKET XIV.

The Korean War introduced you to the real ‘Honey Bucket Wagons’. You always said, ‘You can never come out spelling like a rose.'”
Lynn Mattison Raley about her father, Bill Mattison.

When Jerry Simon and I were looking through the Krogman scrapbook photos, the subject of Bill Mattison’s Renegades and Skeeters came up. I’ve always wondered if Bill ever had an iceboat with plain old HONEYBUCKET on the side, without a Roman numeral next to the name. (As far as I can ascertain, there has never been a HONEYBUCKET. Jerry Simon agreed that Bill went from SNAPSHOT to HONEYBUCKET II.)
Bill’s daughter, Lynn Mattison Raley, explains the lineage best in a wonderful book she put together about her dad.

“Bill was now really hooked on iceboats and started building his first one-design iceboat, a Renegade. Unfortunately, during the winter of 1949, a fire swept through his family’s home. Damage was confined to the basement, destroying Bill’s new iceboat. Undaunted, he built another. Two years later, SNAPSHOT, named in honor of the family business, Star Photo Service, was on the ice ready for her first race. That boat also met with an unfortunate end. While waiting for his first race to begin, the [stern-steerer] FRITZ came around the leeward mark of the racecourse, spinning out of control right into Bill’s new boat, turning the beautiful SNAPSHOT into a pile of firewood. Then came the Korean War and service with the army. Iceboating would have to wait for Uncle Sam.

After the war, Bill finished his third Renegade. SNAPSHOT’S first race was on Lake Monona. “We had 60 boats on the starting line and I finished that regatta in the top 10,” Bill said. Speed, they say, is a narcotic. You can never get enough. So it was with Bill and iceboats. In 1954, he build his first class E Skeeter, HONEYBUCKET. The rest, as they say, is history. His boats set the standard for the evolution of the Skeeter class. He continually refined and improved his designs, eventually producing 14 HONEYBUCKETS before he retired from the sport in 2008.”

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