Contact 4LIYC




Though the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club Blade Runner Newsletter has been on haitus for several years, here is the collection of most of the entire run of the newsletter where you will find the finest writing about ice boating anywhere.


Spring 2003 Volume 7, Number 3

By Tuesday evening, March 11th, it became evident that the International Skeeter Association was going to call the ISA Championship Regatta on for Buttons Bay, Vermont, on historic Lake Champlain. By noon on Wednesday the word was official.

The hopes of the 4LIYC, and the western fleet, rested with Bob Kau, his Class A Skeeter Lost Kau’s, and Pewaukee’s Tom Hyslop and his yacht Amphetamine II.

They would be the only boats to make the long 1100 mile trek to the lake that separates upper New York from Vermont. By 5:30 am Kau was traveling to Pewaukee where his boat was transferred to Hyslop’s trailer for the trip east.

Thursday, March 13-Another long travel day, was made longer when navigator Bob "Magellan" Kau broke his bifocals and couldn’t read the road map. The end result was getting lost and a couple hour delay as they took the long scenic route through Pennsylvania. By late Thursday afternoon they arrived at their destination.

Friday, March 14

On Friday morning a one and a quarter mile course was set on a large, clear ice sheet measuring nearly four by three miles. Fast, hard, snow ice, that had been smoothed by rain, and 12-15 mph winds provided picture perfect conditions to the nine Class A Skeeters that would fight it out for the 2003 ISA championship.

After a few hot laps both Kau and Hyslop pronounced their boats fast and fit as they prepared to battle for the coveted Triple Crown of Ice Boating trophy.

The Triple Crown trophy is awarded to the Class A Skeeter skipper with the best combined finishes from the ISA, Northwest, and Garwood regattas. With the Garwood last sailed in the 1960s, it awards the best results from the ISA and Northwest.

Bob Kau held a slim three point advantage over Tom Hyslop going into the ISA. Hyslop’s point deficit was the result of his disqualification in the Northwest Regatta’s second Skeeter race. That regatta had taken place on Lake Winnebago at Fond du Lac in January.

A very true wind and a big course, set on a large area of clear, hard ice made for conditions dubbed "ice boating for dummies" by some. With few wind shifts to play, or any bad ice to deal with, this race would be decided by boat speed more so than sailing skill.

Somehow the Race Committee forgot to bring any starting blocks to the regatta. After some discussion of starting without any, (Kau insisted that there be some sort of marking), the problem was solved by using a spray bomb and painting numbers on the ice.

The big decision before the race for the eastern boats was how much ballast to carry. Some boats opted for up to 175 pounds of lead placed as near to the runner plank as they could get it.

At precisely 10:30 a.m. the Chief Judge dropped the starting flag and the regatta was under way. Both Kau and Hyslop got off to good starts, each leading their sides for the first 500 yards. But the three "fast back" boats, (Dan Clapp, Tom Nichols, and Bill Stavola) so named by Kau because of their sloping rear deck line, showed that the Eastern boys had done their homework since the last ISA held in 2001.

Both Nichols and Stavola rolled over Hyslop by the time they reached the lay line while Clapp did the same to Kau on the other side of the course.

By the time Clapp rounded the top mark he held a nearly 500 yard lead over the other Skeeters.

Kau, approaching the mark on port, saw little room for himself but remembered the advice that Buddy Melges had once given him... " Ya got to carve yourself a hole Bobby". Bob managed to stuff it safely in ahead of Tom Nichols and the rest of the starboard pack.

But it mattered little as Nichols easily passed him going downwind to round behind the leader Clapp. With Clapp and Nichols rapidly checking out Kau battled Stavola the rest of the way with Stavola coming out on top.

At the finish it was Dan Clapp, by a rather comfortable margin, Tom Nichols, Bill Stavola, Bob Kau, and Tom Hyslop followed by the rest of the fleet.

With no other classes running, a half hour break was granted in case anyone wanted to change sails or runners for the next race.

Despite the break most skippers were caught with their heavier air packages on the boats when the wind started to drop. With only 8-10 mph of wind nervous sailors were wondering how much lead, if any, to take out of the boat.

Kau and Hyslop had gotten together between the races and both agreed that their yachts were as good as they had been all season. Meanwhile Kau had extended his lead by one point over Hyslop in the quest for the Triple Crown.

When the flag dropped for the second race neither Hyslop or Kau were able to repeat the good starts they had in the first race. The result was they rounded the top mark in 8th and 9th positions.

While they were able to sail through the "pink boat and the pink boat copies", they were unable to catch the three "fast backs". At the finish it was Clapp, with another horizon job victory, followed by Bill Stavola, Nichols in third, Hyslop fourth, and Kau in fifth.

With no other classes sailing the first day of the regatta wrapped up by 11:30 am.

In talking with Tom Hyslop, Bob Kau’s assessment of the regatta’s opening day was a simple "Boy, are we in trouble."

Later that afternoon at a local watering hole, the Turkey Track Saloon, Bob Kau, Tom Hyslop, and a few of the eastern skippers were going over the day’s events. One of the eastern guys let it be known that Clapp and Nichols had been consulting with a M.I.T. engineer on the latest versions of their "fast back" Skeeters.

This prompted Hyslop to proclaim, "They’ve hired a Wizard!"

Saturday, March 15

A dusting of snow, less than a half of an inch, had fallen overnight giving the lake a fresh, bright white look. The snow would have little impact on the racing action but a lack of wind would.

A one and a quarter mile course, running north to south, was set up. The boats would have to contend with the wind shadow of the mountains on the New York side of the lake.

The Race Committee and the Chief Judge waited to start the race until seven mph showed up obtained by swinging the gauge through the air, the flag dropped for the start of the third race of the regatta.

Two things became quickly evident, stay away from the right side of the course, which Hyslop had dubbed the "Sargasso Sea", and just keep your boat moving in the extremely light air. As the right side of the line chugged along, running parallel to the starting blocks, (a set had been borrowed from a DN regatta being held further up the lake), the left side jumped out to a huge lead.

Bill Stavola arrived at the top mark with a nearly 1000 yard advantage. Hyslop would round second and Clapp, recovering from his trip to the Sargasso, followed in third. Kau would round sixth.

Neither Stavola or Hyslop could keep Clapp behind them and soon Dan and his orange boat, Insanity, swooped by them and into first place. By this time Stavola had fallen back to third place where he had Kau nipping at his heels looking for a way by. At the bottom mark Stavola failed to leave Kau room to round and forced Lost Kaus into the mark. Stavola would later withdraw from the race, saving himself from a protest hearing.

As the wind dropped to the 4-5 mph range Dan Clapp extended his lead. At the finish Insanity reigned by a large margin. Tom Hyslop held on for second while Tom Nichols crossed the line in third. Bob Kau finished fourth, edging Pete Rochelle for the position. All the other boats were either disqualified, (Bill Stavola), or failed to finish within the time limit, (Rick Stavola, Jordan Glaiser, and Peter Block).

There were two Class B Skeeter races held on Saturday. Sailing Yankee Class boats, (similar to a Boe-craft side-by-side), George Neyssen and Mark Hancik traded victories. Greg Hansa took two third place finishes.

In the light air these were the only races held on Saturday.

Sunday, March 16

Though it hardly seemed possible, there was even less wind on Sunday than there had been the day before. There would be no racing on this day.

By noon the Race Committee declared the regatta over. Saturday’s standings stood as final.

Bob Kau was successful in his quest for the Triple Crown Championship, edging Hyslop by just one point for the trophy.

As for the ISA Regatta, Dan Clapp swept all three races, by rather large margins no less, claiming his sixth World Championship. Tom Nichols ended up second over-all, with Tom Hyslop third and Bob Kau fourth.

The battle for next year’s ISA crown should prove very interesting as it appears that the eastern guys have once again gained the upper hand. Clapp promises that there will be more of the "fast back" boats come next season. He also has openly declared his intentions on the Northwest Regatta trophies and his desire to return the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America back to the east coast.

Time will tell if the western skippers are up to his challenge. It would appear that they have some catching up to do.

[Editor’s note; special thanks to Bob Kau for his help in compiling this account of the ISA Regatta.]

Spring 2003 Volume 7, Number 3

From the Desk of the BR Editor: I am sorry to report that the last issue of The Blade Runner, Volume 7, No. 2, carried a story that contained some erroneous information.

It seems as if the investigative reporters that make up the usually crack staff at The Blade Runner failed to properly check out and confirm all the facts before running a story.

Here at The Blade Runner we strive for honest reporting of ice boating news and events. We realize the awesome responsibility that we, as one of the few sources for ice boating information, have.

We are proud of the job that we have done over these many years. That makes it all the harder to have to retract part of a story that we printed in the last issue.

The editorial staff at The Blade Runner has taken steps to insure that all future stories and articles are properly checked out and that at least three independent sources can confirm all information before publication. Further, the reporters responsible for submitting the improperly researched article have been summarily dismissed from The Blade Runner staff. We will not tolerate sloppy reporting practices.

In the Vol. 7 No. 2 issue of The Blade Runner, in an article headlined Wildest Renegade Race Ever?, Ron Rosten did not "back off" in an effort to take it easy on the boat he borrowed for the day, Don Anderson’s Easyrider. Rather, it turns out that Ron dropped from the lead of the race to tenth place because his arms got tired.

Actually, Ron had little regard for Anderson’s borrowed yacht and would have gladly "beat it like a rented donkey" to the win if he hadn’t gotten tired.

Changes Needed for Regatta Scheduling?
By Greg Whitehorse
Spring 2003 Volume 7, Number 3

In 2003 the Madison area and the 4LIYC has enjoyed one of the best ice boating seasons its had in many years. Over one-hundred races have been scored, in four classes of boats, and counted toward our club championships.

And yet, as this is being written, we will not sail the International Renegade Ice Yacht Association championship regatta for the second straight year. The ISA championship regatta was finally sailed in mid-March in Vermont.

Many of the most recent ISA and Renegade championship regattas have been held in mid-March or even late March, often on soft, mushy, hard to sail ice. As the sun climbs higher in the sky and sets later in the day, and the temperatures rise it becomes increasingly difficult to hold our regattas. The shorelines start to break up and safe and easy launch sites become tough to find or non-existent. Pushing trailers on and off the ice becomes the norm.

Consider also that traditionally late season regattas are often poorly attended as interest wanes at the end of another long winter.

Perhaps it is time to consider a change in how we schedule our major regattas.

As things stand now the Northwest and ISA regattas are first scheduled for the third weekend in January. The Renegade Championship is generally sailed in conjunction with the ISA unless the ISA is sailed at an eastern site.

The Northwest takes precedence over the ISA because it has a longer tradition than the ISA and because it is a all fleet regatta. Since both regattas are scheduled for the same weekend I imagine there are conditions under which the ISA may be sailed before the Northwest, not thick enough ice for the big stern-steerers may be one example. I have been active in this sport for over thirty-five years and I can’t recall a year when the ISA was sailed first.

Another point to take into consideration is that for the first several weeks of scheduling the regattas we will not go back-to back with the Northwest and the ISA being held on consecutive weekends. Only later in the season will we consider going back-to-back.

Please keep in mind I’m not saying that these practices are wrong. It’s just that it seems that they are more suitable to the longer seasons we enjoyed during the 1950s and 1960s.

Even though I don’t like to use the term "global warming", it cannot be denied that we are going through a period of warmer and wetter winters. Our sailing season has been shortened at both the beginning with later freezes, and at the end with earlier lake opening dates.

To increase our chances of successfully completing our regattas we must change our scheduling methods.

I believe that we should propose that the Northwest and ISA regattas be first scheduled for the first weekend in January and that we can go back-to-back with our regattas at any time.

Let’s take advantage of good ice when we are most likely to have it. Let’s lessen the chances that our championship regattas will be contested on soft, sloppy ice in late March. Let’s increase regatta attendance by holding our regattas when interest is high.

And if we are fortunate to have a long ice boating season let’s make it possible for the various clubs around the country to have the time after the regattas for their club racing activities.

Whitehorse Captures World Ice Boat Speed Record!!!
Winter 2003, Vol 7, No. 2

On Sunday, January 19th, 2003, 4LIYC member Harry Whitehorse streaked to a new world ice boating speed record on Madison’s Lake Monona.

Whitehorse’s yacht Das Boot, (also known as the Crippler), recorded a speed of 155.84 mph as he negotiated the downwind legs of the one mile race course in 23.1 seconds.

The time was recorded by the Club’s Chief Judge and was verified by a GPS that Whitehorse carried with him as he made his record run.

"I knew I was riding a tremendous wind shift as I rounded the windward mark," remarked a champagne soaked Whitehorse. "I was able to sail almost straight downwind to the bottom mark."

"The runner was just dancing, barely off the ice. The boat really accelerated. Man, it was like a carnival ride!" His hands danced thru the air as he described the wild ride.

Harry’s specially designed boat, a sleek needle-nosed, neon red, front-seater is the smallest of the three world wide contenders in the quest for ice speed supremacy. With a boat only 18 feet long, 12 feet wide, and a mast 16 feet in length, Harry is hoping that aerodynamics and streamlining make up for sail size.

"It’s easier to make something small go fast than something big. That’s why a bullet is small, not the size of a bread box," he explained.

The record that Harry Whitehorse broke had stood since 1977 when Harry’s nephew, Ken Whitehorse, sailed his Skeeter, Warrior, to a speed of 148 mph. That speed run had also taken place on Lake Monona.

Ken Whitehorse’s speed was recorded by a City of Madison police officer’s radar gun on Jan. 27th of that year.

When asked if he would rest on his laurels Whitehorse replied, "I think I’ll kick back and see what the others will do. If they go faster I’ll just bring out the Das Boot and break the record again."

"I always had faith in this project. I guess this just proves it," he said.

"This should be considered the official record, heck, I didn’t even need to be pushed by a truck 100 mph first. I’ll probably have to put a sticker on my truck saying Worlds Fastest Ice Boat. After all, my claim is as good as anyone's."

And that can’t be argued with.

Submitted by The Blade Runner’s fine journalistic staff writers.

Wildest Renegade Race EVER?

Over half a century has passed since Elmer Millenbach first set up his ground breaking design, Renegade II, on some frozen surface near Detroit, Michigan. And it is safe to assume that the Renegade fleet has staged some fairly wild and woolly racing action over the years.

Stories of the big wind and the hard ice of the fifties and sixties are still told time and time again at ice boat shops and watering holes throughout the realm of hard water sailing.

Stories of Elmer dominating regatta’s, and Free-For-Alls, and Challenge Pennants. Stories of Renegades being able to beat the Skeeters up until the mid-sixties, (when better sail designs and taller mast poles pushed the Skeeters ahead of other classes). These stories were listened to attentively by all who heard them.

But in the 55 years since Renegade numero-uno took its maiden voyage, anyone would be hard pressed to come up with wilder (dare I say better?) race than one which took place January 18th, 2003, on Madison’s Lake Monona.

Perhaps this story should have been set on Lake Kegonsa, a favorite 4LIYC early season track that generally freezes fast and hard weeks before either lakes Monona or Mendota.

The club had been enjoying a great season on Kegonsa. A successful Grand Slam Regatta had been held in December along with several club races for Four Lakes collection of Skeeters, Renegades, Nites and DNs.

But a week long "heat wave", combined with the guv’ment boys allowing millions of gallons of water to be released downstream, was having a peculiar effect on the Kegonsa ice sheet.

That was pointed out at the most recent Wednesday night meeting and social hour(s) of the 4LIYC by Renegader Greg Whitehorse.

Whitehorse observed that while negotiating, (in 56 degree comfort), the rolling fairway, the deep bunkers, and the undulating green of the Stoughton Country Club’s ninth hole (located on the shores of Lake Kegonsa) in a early January round of golf, he was surprised to see that about a third of the lake was open water. What wasn’t open had that scary late March, early April, grayish look of ice that wasn’t long for this world.

Needless to say, the Club would have to scout out a new race course.

Thankfully, Ol’ Man Winter returned, and by the weekend of January 18th and 19th Lake Monona had firmed up quite nicely.

Temperatures in the mid-teens, brisk 15-18 mph winds, and ten to twelve inches of hard ice would make for a great day of sailing.

The only thing to keep an eye out for (besides the expansion cracks and the open water west of the race course) were the predicted snow squalls that would pass through the area during the afternoon.

The morning series of races had run off in short order after which grateful skippers made their way to either Bob Kau’s or Dick Lichtfeld’s lakeside homes for food, drink, heat, and smart talk about ice boating.

The first indication that anything unusual was going on was when the Renegades lined up for their first afternoon race. A squall was moving through with gusting winds and swirling snow. Madison’s beautiful Lake Monona skyline disappeared in a snowy haze.

The Renegade sailors called a quick vote at the starting line on whether to race or postpone a few minutes. In an eleven to one vote we decided to wait.

Minutes later the snow squall passed over, and the Renegades, Skeeters, Nites, and DNs all completed their third race of the day.

When the Renegades lined up for their fourth and final race they did so under darkening skies and building winds. But the snow held off and Chief Judge (for this race anyway) Bob Kau dropped the starting flag for the event.

Six boats tore away from the starting blocks on port, another six blasted away on starboard.

Then the snow came.

Approaching the windward lay-lines skippers found difficulty seeing much of anything, let alone the yachts sailing around them. The boats on the other tack were far of, (for now) invisible in the blinding snow.

Where did the mark go? No one could see it yet everyone was heading for the same spot.

As six boats approached what they hoped was the windward mark one large Menard’s plastic tarp could have been draped over all of them.

S uddenly Gary Sternberg’s boat, So What, which had been quite jumpy all day, leapt from the ice. Its windward runner shot up almost perpendicular to the surface. If Sternberg dumped it here he was going to collect three or four other boats with him. Somehow he brought it down shiny-side up.

Boats were wildly hiking, others were skidding on runners dulled by a hard day of racing. And all were looking for a way to round the mark and remain in one piece.

When it looked like things couldn’t get any tighter, in rushed four more Renegades on port in front of the starboard dog pack.

Ron Rosten, sailing Donny Anderson’s regatta winning ride, Easyrider, found room at the mark, stuffed her in, and rounded the mark in first place. Behind him, (in no particular order) followed Greg Simon, Mike Ripp, Dan Hearn, Gary Sternberg, Jack Ripp, Jeff Russell, Jerry Simon, Greg Whitehorse, Jim Nordhaus, Tim Stanton, and Mike Redmond.

Twelve boats somehow managed to round the mark in thirty mph winds and blinding snow.

Now came the fast part.

Kicking the pedals hard, everyone rounded the mark and headed downwind for a quick ride to the bottom. It’s true what Bill Mattison says, everyone is fast in a blow.

It was one of those deals where you [round the mark] count to three, jibe, and find out you overstood.

The boats were only slightly more spread out when they reached the leeward pin. Three, sometimes more, boats, all over-stood, would skid around the mark in a shower of ice shavings and head back to weather.

This mayhem went on for three more laps. Each mark rounding was not only crowded, but an adventure.

Finally, the lead boats came down for the finish. The race was over. Twelve Renegades started the race and somehow twelve survived to finish.

Greg Simon, sailing Simonized II, must have figured that the safest place to run was up front. After he won the race he would say all he thought about was wanting to see his new-born daughter and wife again. Gary Sternberg gained enough control over his bucking steed to come home second. I think he was mad that we didn’t sail the earlier race in a squall.

Mike Ripp, steering Apogee, hung on to finish third, barely crossing the line ahead of his dad, Jack Ripp in Jack’s Frost III.

It was a good race for Dan Hearn and his yacht, Chaos, as he came home fifth on his home lake. Jeff Russell, steering US-253, was the sixth place boat. Jerry Simon, Simonized, followed in seventh, while Greg Whitehorse, in Blade Runner, crossed the line in eighth. Big Bang, with Tim Stanton behind the sheet rope, finished in the number nine spot.

Early race leader Ron Rosten brought Anderson’s sleek, black metal-flake racer home in tenth. Ron would say that he didn’t think flogging a borrowed boat in thirty mph winds was a great idea so he backed off slightly.

Jim Nordhaus' Ay Caramba, was making her maiden voyage that day and like Ron Rosten was taking it somewhat easy as he crossed the finish line in eleventh. Mike Redmond, in his American Flyer, rounded out the field in twelfth.

Nearly everyone who had been in the race thought it was the wildest race they had ever been in. Even the normally reserved Skeeter guys, who witnessed the event while awaiting their turn, said it was something to see.

And to think that it was actually stated in a Milwaukee newspaper earlier in the week, (in an article about a wanna-be worlds fastest ice boater), that there just wasn’t any "balls to the wall" ice boating any more.

I know twelve guys who would beg to differ.

Need Help Naming Your Boat?
By Greg Whitehorse

" A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." - Wm. Shakespeare

"Gimme a roll of duct tape so I can slap a name on this pig.
- Unknown Ice Boater

For some reason naming your ice boat always seems to take on a large significance than it probably should. Agonizing days and weeks are spent bouncing possible choices off your wife, kids, friends, and even casual acquaintances.

(You): "What do think of the name Aneroid Destroyer?"

(Friend): "For your kid?"

(You): "No!"

(Friend): "For your dog?"

(You): "No, for my boat."

(Friend): "Is your boat a destroyer?"

(You): "No. "

(Friend): "Why don’t you name it after your wife?"

And so it goes. What seems to be a matter of up-most importance to you, really matters little to others.

To help anyone currently going through the boat naming process, The Blade Runner presents the ins and outs of ice yacht naming.

Let’s first break down the various types of names most generally given to ice boats.

The main categories are; Action, Humorous/Play on Words, Musical, Classic, and Named After Your (fill in the blank here).

The always popular Action category includes names such as Ramblin’, Chaos, or one of my favorites, Thunderjet Certainly good names all. Classic names like Enterprise, Intrepid, Eagle, or Challenger evoke images of military might or space exploration.

Boats with music related names include, Desperado (an old Eagles tune), Panama Red (an old New Riders of the Purple Sage salute to some especially potent cannabis), or So What (the name of a late ’70’s rock album by guitar wizard Joe Walsh).

I think the yachts named after wives, daughters, etc., are going somewhat by the wayside. The huge stern-steering behemoths of yesteryear were very big on girl names. A somewhat more recent big boat, such as the Mary B or the ’60’s Skeeters Nancy E III, and the Betty B are fine examples of the genre. Maybe it’s because ice boaters tend to be a bit more creative than the average bloke, who thinks ice fishing is some sort of great winter activity, that the Humorous/Play on Words boat names are the most popular.
Cold Reality, Tuff Ship, Crazy in DN, Frozen Assets, Lost Kau’s, or Miss Fortune, are but a few examples of this category. Even the venerable Honeybucket, which has been around for so long and has won so many races and regattas, falls under the play on words listing, (though it’s edging toward being the most classic ice yacht name ever).

I remember that when I was just starting out in this sport in the DN class, I thought that If I ever got a Skeeter I would name it in honor of three of my favorite ice boaters. Is the perfect name Ramblin’ Honeypirate or what?

My brother, Gary, once built a brand new Skeeter and named it Odyssey, a fine name no doubt. But after suffering a few mechanical breakdowns and then tipping it over one day on Lake Kegonsa, decided to try and change his luck by renaming it Titanic II. (I don’t recall if his luck changed but I do know he never capsized it again).

In my time I’ve had boats named Challenger, Chief, Crazy in DN, Blade Runner, and Zip ‘n’ Zap (which was a DN co-sailed by my brother and me, it had Zip lettered on one side of the hull and Zap on the other!).

But my personal favorite was my first DN, an old beater of a boat that was simply named Dead Duck.

On at least one occasion the name of the boat, or to be precise, the lack of a name on the boat, nearly cost its skipper a shot at the regatta title.

The rules did plainly state the a boat must have a name on its sides, and the boat in question, which was recently painted, did not. The Skipper went to bed after the first day of the regatta in first place only to wake up the next morning and find out that he had been disqualified for the slight infraction. But cooler heads prevailed and the skipper was allowed to duct tape the name It on the hull in order to comply.

Using tape to letter your boat has been, over the years, a popular method of complying with the rules.

Though now professionally lettered on the hull, Tim McCormick’s regatta winning Renegade, Aim, was originally a duct tape job.

I recall a Skeeter with the taped name X-I, and the afore-mentioned It, but the all time best tape name was late ’70’s, early 80’s Lake Geneva Skeeter pilot’s boat Tape. It also was later professionally applied to the hull.

So what (no pun intended), do you name your boat if you’re stuck for an idea?

You have my permission to use Aneroid Destroyer .

Hope to see you, and your yacht, whatever you decided to name it, on the ice this winter.