Celebrating the Women of Ice Sailing: More History

Previous: Celebrating the Women of Ice Sailing

Skeeter Ice Boat Cub sailor Jane Pegel shares her memories of female ice sailors and race committee members. Some of the women she mentions were featured in an article that ran in Rudder Magazine in 1943, see below.
UPDATE: One more woman who must be included is Green Lake Nite sailor Maureen Bohleber who won the 2019 ISA title.

“Sunday morning on Lake Geneva is really ladies’ day. The skipperettes get the boats ready themselves and there is every evidence of sex equality at the crack of the starting gun.”

The Skeeter IBC was organized in 1933 and the Club archives show a fleet of women racing Skeeters:

  • Bettye Nye
  • Ethel Koehler
  • Lucille Fitzcharles
  • Ariel Clayton
  • Sue Vilas
  • Vera Granath
  • Rose Anderson
  • Medora Adams
  • Helen Campbell
  • Frieda Hoiles

Winning the championship:

  • 1934 Lucille Fitzcharles
  • 1935 Vera Granath
  • 1936 Bettye Nye
  • 1937 Vera Granath
  • 1938 Bettye Nye
  • 1939 Sue Vilas

The Club cancelled racing during WW II and subsequently the women’s fleet seems to have disappeared from the weekly race schedule, though many raced in the ISA Women’s Division.


When I was a Williams Bay high school student, my father bought me Holy Smoke, a 20 ft. Mead. In 1951 I took it down to Fox Lake to race in the Women’s Division of the ISA regatta. In the opening race I was leading at the first windward mark but didn’t know how to sail off-the-wind so ended up DNF. My recollection is that I improved over the weekend and finished second in the regatta. There were several outstanding women skippers competing, including: Olive Lindstedt, Fox Lake IYC; Dorie Sarns, Detroit IYC; and Harriett Sternkopf and Jean Zwicky of the Pewaukee Ice Yacht Club who were outstanding Skeeter sailors.


I continued to race my Skeeter for several years and won some SIBC trophies. Then in November, 1956, I switched to a DN and raced successfully in that class through 2014. My daughter, Susie, started racing a DN in 1969, at age 12. She was top Junior In the Northwest and brought home trophies in several DN championship regattas, both gold and silver divisions,several times beating her mother.


Julie Richards from Grand Traverse IYC is an outstanding DN skipper and has taken home a number of awards, including a Central Division championship.


The list of faithful women race committee volunteers includes Mauretta Mattison; Cora Millenbach; Mary Jane Schalk; Deb Whitehorse; the three Sherry sisters – Loretta, Debbie, Jane; the Green Lake contingent of Julie Jankowski , Laurie Norton, Debbie Bierman; Mrs. John Koeck came all the way from Lake Hopatcong, NJ; Mrs. Gene Treuter led the Cass Lake contingent. And there have been many DN wives who devoted evenings to keeping class membership records.


Many thanks to them all.

…Jane Pegel

Celebrating the Women of Ice Sailing

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women involved in ice sailing. The day provides a chance to share some history of women in ice sailing.  The first woman who comes to mind for most of us is Skeeter Ice Boat Club’s Jane Pegel, pictured above, who has won many ice sailing titles. Ron Sherry sent this article about Detroit Ice Yacht Club’s Garwood Regatta published when Jane won the Scripp’s Trophy for DNs, a reminder of the time when the idea of “housewives” accomplishing anything was considered a novelty.

Women have been key members of iceboat race management for many years.  Below is an article shared by Jack Jacobs about his mother and the other women of the Detroit Ice Yacht Club who
made things run smoothly so that ice sailors could concentrate on racing and socializing. Much of what is written about scoring iceboat races in this article remains true 68 years later such as keeping the chatter to a minimum and the writers keeping their eyes on the score sheets while they miss the excitement of the racers rounding the leeward mark.