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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.

Blade Runner Archives 1999-2000

Fall 1999 Vol. 4, No.1
Historical Footnotes: The 1986 Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant

Winter 2000,Vol. 4, No. 2
Hey Kids-Learn to Talk Like a Skeeter Sailor!

Spring 2002, Vol. 4, No. 3
Krueger Kops Kegonsa Klassic: The Bloody Mary Eye Opener

Historical Footnotes: The 1986 Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant

The Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America is the oldest, and possibly the most prestigious prize in all of ice yacht racing.

The pennant was first awarded to the challenging ice boats sailing on New York's Hudson River by the Teddy Roosevelt family in 1885. Eventually the prized Pennant made it's way west when, in 1951 Fox Lake Wisconsin's Ed Roliberg, sailing his yacht 'Black Magic', defeated ten other ice yacht clubs and 16 boats to claim the prize for the Fox Lake Ice Yacht Club.

From there it was only a matter of time before the 4LIYC, led by Bill Mattison and Jack Ripp brought the flag to Madison in 1964. The 4LIYC successfully defended the Pennant for five consecutive seasons before losing it to Pewaukee in near white-out conditions on Lake Mendota in 1970. It would be over fifteen years before the Challenge Pennant made its way back to the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club.

In this issue of The Blade Runner - we'll take a somewhat behind the scenes look at the 1986 quest for the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America.

Between 1970 and 1985 the Pennant would only be put up for challenge five times. Most-times it was a lack of sailing conditions that prevented the races from being held. Many thought that at times the Pennant wasn't put up for grabs unless the host club figured that they had a real good chance of retaining the coveted trophy.

In 1981 Lake Geneva's Skeeter Ice Boat Club captured the Pennant from Pewaukee. The Team of Buddy Melges and Tom Schmidt was just too much for the competition.

During this time Lake Geneva was enjoying a dominating edge in Skeeter racing. The Buddy Melges owned yachts, 'White Heat' and latter 'Slypoke' had established themselves as the boats to beat. When Buddy wasn't around to sail them he made sure that some other talented skipper took the helm. Jeff Baker, or Buddy's sons, Harry or Hans were all capable of producing victories. The A Skeeter, 'Slypoke', regardless of who was at the controls, was nearly unbeatable during this time.

Each time the Challenge Pennant was scheduled it was the 4LIYC's Board-of-Director's job to choose the two competing yachts. Although they could have chosen any two boats in the club, by the mid- fifties it was the Skeeter class that was exclusively looked to provide our best chance.

But picking two yachts was always sure to generate controversy within the club. The days of one or two dominating boats were over. Ken Whitehorse, Gary Whitehorse, Bill Hanson and others had emerged as capable sailors with fast yachts.

In 1986 the Skeeter Ice Boat Club had decided to put the Challenge Pennant on the line again. And why not? They had every reason to be confident of victory. Harry Melges III was slated to steer 'Slypoke' and head up the formidable Lake Geneva team.

I was Commodore of the 4LIYC that year and it would be my job to poll the other board-of-directors and choose our challenging yachts.

A.J. Whitehorse was enjoying a outstanding season in his iceboat, 'Eagle 1'. His sleek, needle-nosed yacht was nearly unbeatable in light to light medium conditions. And by chance that year we sailed many days with just those conditions. By years end A.J. would win nearly thirty races!

But others were also having fine seasons, most notably Bill Mattison and Bill Hanson. It wasn't really a matter of picking two boats to go, rather it was picking who would not.

For obvious reasons I wanted my brother, A.J., to be one of the chosen competitors. But despite his great season, I knew it would be a tough sell to some board members.

Many thought (for good reason) that only mature, seasoned sailors could stand up to the rigors of the Challenge Pennant races. A series of ten lap, twenty mile races against the best iceboating can offer, would surely overwhelm a younger skipper in only his second year of Skeeter competition.

But I hoped to sell them on the idea that by sending A.J. we would be covering the light to light- medium wind conditions, and then we could choose either Mattison or Hanson as our heavy-air yacht.

The first thing I did was look down the list of 4LIYC board members. There were three votes I could count on for A.J. (including mine), and four that I wasn't sure of.

In an effort to build momentum for my brother, my first phone calls went to the members I knew I could count on. Sure enough, after a couple of calls I had three votes for Mattison, and three votes for A.J..

But after three more calls the tally stood at Bill Mattison, six; A.J. Whitehorse, three; Bill Hanson, two; and Paul Krueger, one.

If the seventh director voted for Hanson it would result in a tie vote between Hanson and A.J.. I would then have to go back to the director who voted for Krueger and ask him to chose between my brother or Hanson. This board member expressed his reason for choosing Paul as, 'sending our most experienced skippers...'. I didn't think his second choice would be A.J..

As I dialed the number of the seventh director, I thought, 'Well maybe he's not home.'

That's when the idea came to me. An idea so simple I don't know why it didn't come to me earlier. After the phone rang for the second time, I hung up.

On the tally sheet in front of me I marked down, 'could not contact'. Bill Mattison and A.J. Whitehorse would represent the 4LIYC in the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America on Lake Geneva.

The weekend of the Challenge Pennant races the 4LIYC set up on Lake Kegonsa, in front of the Sunnyside  Resort. We would try to sail a full slate of club races for all classes except the Skeeters. With Bill and A.J. in Lake Geneva any Skeeter races sailed on Kegonsa that weekend would be scored as stay-at-home series races, as per the club's rules.

Though we managed to get some racing in, it was a struggle in the light air and on the somewhat sticky ice. At the end of the day we rolled up the sails, strapped on the boat covers, and headed for Sunnyside's bar to enjoy a cold one and conduct a little barstool racing.

A hour or so later in through the door walks A.J.. He looked beat, dejected, and in need of a beverage.

'How'd it go?" asked someone.

'Boy... I'll tell ya," A.J. started, 'those guys are fast.' He paused for a second, then reaching under his coat he pulled out a package. Slamming the package on the bar he continued, 'But not fast enough!' Inside the clear, plastic bag was the oldest, most prestigious prize in all of iceboat racing, the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America!

A loud cheer went up from every ice boater at the bar. Bob Kau picked A.J. up and tossed him in the air, (hitting A.J.'s head on a beam in the process.) The celebration that lasted through the weekend, (and beyond) began.

A.J. had to tell everyone several times how he and Bill had done it. In the two ten lap races, A.J. led every lap. In forty mark roundings, A.J was the first boat around the mark a remarkable 39 times! With Mattison guarding A.J.'s stern, A.J. was uncatchable. 

In the long and storied history of the Pennant, A.J. Whitehorse, and his yacht 'Eagle 1', had turned in one of its most dominating performances. And for the first time in a decade and a half, the Challenge Pennant was back in Madison with the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club.

The 1980 Bloody Mary Eye Opener
Krueger Kops Kegonsa Klassic

Twenty years ago that headline jumped from the pages of the ISA News & Views Sailing Issue with alliterate enthusiasm.

Written in the style of the articles he had read in the auto racing tabloid, National Speed Sport News, it was Greg Whitehorse's account of the 1980 New Years Day Bloody Mary Eye Opener race.

In the days leading up to that race the 4LIYC members had to be wondering whether they would be able to get on the ice at all.

"It's been a bazaar weather year.' noted 4LIYC News & Views correspondent Mark Langenfeld that year. 'A warm and snowless December, we finally got on the ice the weekend of the 29th and 30th", he goes on to report.

Indeed, temperatures in the mid- forties, and ice that had only recently formed, had a few nervous skippers wondering just how much ice was separating them from a cold dip in Lake Kegonsa.

But there really wasn't much to worry about as most of that weekend was spent at the Sunnyside's bar, (acquiring a 'healthy glow according to Langenfeld's account.) High pressure dominated southern Wisconsin that weekend and the only race contested was a Skeeter Tune-Up Series race.

Bill Mattison came from one lap down in the light and shifty wind to surprise defending ISA Champion Paul Krueger and notch the weekend's only event

By Tuesday, New Years Day, anxious 4LIYC skippers were hoisting sails under thickening gray skies that were in stark contrast to the bright sunshine of the previous weekend. Still the wind remained light and variable.

The New Years Day Bloody Mary Eye Opener was first sailed in 1976. The idea, no doubt hatched at Sunnyside's bar after a long day of no sailing, was to make a "huge" trophy and then race for it at a time when the "big dogs" (re: Krueger and Mattison) wouldn't show up to run for it

New Year's morning was a time traditionally spent trying to sleep in, searching for aspirin, or, at best, wailing for a football game to come on TV, (although Bucky never played on New Years Day back in those days.)

In other words it was the perfect time for a grueling ten lap iceboat race! A great cure for whatever ails you on the first day of the new year. The ultimate 'hair of the dog'!

But the plan went awry from the get go. The first two sails up on the morning of the initial "Bloody Mary" had the numbers 134 and 165 on them, Mattison and Krueger.

So much for trying to sneak one in. Four years later the "'Bloody Mary" was an established tradition of the 4LIYC.

It has been rumored over the years that on occasion over-zealous revelers of the previous evening went as far to leave the last party late into the night then head on down to the Sunnyside and sleep in their boats so as not to miss the early A.M. start.

According to the News & Views account at precisely 10:00 AM., "a good field of Skeeters, Renegades, and Nites took Chief Judge Jim Payton's starting flag" for the 'Bloody Mary' Open.

The wind was starting to pick up and everyone was anticipating a fast race.

Paul Krueger, in his yacht 'Rambl'n', led the first two laps in convincing fashion. The defending World Champion would be tough to beat unless conditions dramatically changed. They would.

P.K had some stiff competition behind him, Dave Nelson in 'Sunnyside Up', and Greg Whitehorse sailing 'Challenger III' closely chased him across the line early in the race.

Further back in the pack, Bill Mattison, Gary Sternberg, Vic Whitehorse, Greg Fauerbach, Walter Whitehorse, AJ Moldenhauer, Gary Whitehorse, and sailing their Renegades, Jack Ripp and Jerry Simon, all baffled for position.

Apparently the Nites had already had enough fun and retired from the race.

On lap three the wind suddenly started to drop. Soon a few of the skippers could be seen climbing out of their boats to push.

Again, citing the News & Views article, "the wily veteran, Bill Mattson, sailing the famous 'Honeybucket VI' found what little air was blowing to move up from sixth place on the second lap to lead the third and fourth laps."

But 'Ma Nature' wasn't through playing games, the wind picked up again and Krueger was able to push past Mattison into the lead once more on the fifth go-around.

The big mover at the half-way point was Gary Whitehorse. Expertly piloting 'Enterprise IV, Gary came from far back in the field to second place, dropping Mattison to third.

Behind the lead boats the battles raged for position. The yachts which were set up expecting light air would gain four or five spots when the wind dropped only to get re-passed by the heavy-air boats when the wind again picked up.

On the eighth lap Paul Krueger and Gary Whitehorse were seen waging a fierce runner to runner battle for the lead. When the two boats came down to finish the ninth lap, Whitehorse's red and silver Skeeter had forged ahead of Krueger's red and white yacht, to complete his frenzied charge from deep in the pack. Gary Whitehorse, in 'Enterprise IV appeared to be heading to his first Eye Opener victory.

'Lady Luck wasn't riding with Gary, for when he headed to the windward mark on the final lap, the wind again died down. Paul Krueger found a breath of air and dived for the mark ahead of the 'Enterprise' to regain the lead.'

Although Whitehorse tried everything he could, Krueger was able to keep 'Rambl'n' out front for the final downwind leg of the race. It was P.K.'s second Bloody Mary Eye Opener victory in four years.

Following Paul and Gary across the line were Bill Mattison, in third, Dave Nelson, fourth, and Greg Whitehorse, fifth.

It was one of the greatest iceboat races in club history.

But the day wasn't over yet. News & Views writers Greg Whitehorse and Mark Langenfeld go on to report of a "secret" DN race won by AJ. Whitehorse over a large field of yachts. And also of a pot-luck luncheon arranged by the 4LIYC Ladies Auxiliary, (great food, good beer, and iceboat movies.) There was mention of a card and bottle, apricot wine, no doubt being presented to Art Jark to mark his recent retirement And, a card and cake presented to Bill McCormick to help celebrate his recent birthday.

Then it was back on the ice for a afternoon of Holiday Series racing.

Bill Mattison edged Paul Krueger and Gary Sternberg in the first afternoon Skeeter race.

With sixteen(!) DN's on the line, 'young' Andy McCormick defeated Peter McCormick and AJ. Whitehorse in an exiting race.

In the day's final race, with winds diminishing, Paul Krueger was again able to edge Gary Whitehorse for the victory. The surprising third place finisher was Vic Whitehorse sailing in his first day of Skeeter competition. Dave Nelson was fourth.

Twenty years ....... Although a lot can change in twenty years, perhaps more amazing is how much can remain the same.

Paul Krueger, winner of the 1980 Bloody Mary, continues to race a version of 'Rambl'n', (albeit several generations removed from that years yacht), in club races and the national regatta scene. He is a member of the exclusive 4LIYC Honor Roll, and a threat to win any race he enters.

Gary Whitehorse also continues on in the Skeeter fleet, hoping that recent upgrades to his yacht 'Wild Horses', can propel him back to the front of the pack.

Legendary Madison ice boater and Honor Roll member, Bill Mattison, recently named by this publication as the Greatest lce Boater of the 20th Century, is still a major force in Skeeter racing amid rumors of, a) his retirement from the sport is eminent or, b) a new 'Honeybucket' is already on the drawing board, to be built for the 2001 campaign. (I'd put my money on b).

Many others in that race, and on the ice that day, still compete in the sport as well. Fourth place finisher, Dave Nelson, remains active, although now in the Renegade fleet. Dave, who was seriously injured in a iceboating accident several years ago, was recently the first ice boater, in the 4LIYC area, of the new millennium. Dave is also a member of the 4LIYC Honor Roll.

Like Nelson, Greg Whitehorse, fifth place in the 1980 Bloody Mary, has switched to the Renegades, and is now (hopefully) climbing toward being a regatta contender in that class. Greg is also the editor of the club's newsletter, The Blade Runner.

Gary Sternberg is yet another convert to the Renegade fleet. He is also the current Commodore of the International Renegade Ice Yacht Association. The past few years has seen Sternberg contend for regatta championships, indeed, winning one seems to be only a matter of time.

Vic Whitehorse, younger brother of Gary and Greg, older brother of AJ, was never really bitten by the iceboating bug. Despite winning 4LIYC DN races, and his promising start that day in the Skeeter class, Vic eventually drifted away from the sport

Greg Fauerbach campaigned his old, ex-Charlie Johnson Skeeter, on and off for several more seasons. He would most likely show up when the club was sailing on Lake Kegonsa. However, he has not been seen iceboating for nearly a decade.

Another of the Whitehorse clan, Walter, brother of Harry, uncle of Gary, Greg, Vic, And A.J., and father of Ken, eventually retired from Skeeter competition and his yacht 'Fast Buck', remains parked in his equipment shed to this day.

AJ Moldenhauer, race car driver turned iceboat skipper, claimed for several years he didn't know how Ken Whitehorse ever talked him into ice boating to begin with. Al sailed for a couple years before selling his Skeeter, 'Slap Shot', to Ken Kreider.

Another 4LIYC legend, and Honor Roll member, Jack Ripp, continues as a top notch Renegade pilot. He has won all the major Renegade regattas, just as he won all the major Skeeter regattas before he switched fleets in the mid-sixties.

Jerry Simon, who, like Ripp, was sailing a Renegade that day against the Skeeters, was also a regatta champion. Jerry continues to do battle with his yacht 'Simonized' in club and regatta events.

'Young' Andy McCormick eventually became the boat to beat in local DN racing. He now sails a Renegade in club and regatta competition. Andy is a good sailor piloting a fast boat, and like Sternberg, regatta victories appear to be right around the comer.

Peter McCormick keeps his foot in the door in this sport occasionally sailing the stern-steering C boat 'Twin Beds' , (the fastest C boat in the world!), to regatta wins.

A.J. Whitehorse has traveled full circle from that day when he won a 'secret' DN race 'over a good field of yachts.' A.J. would soon climb aboard a Skeeter and in a short number of seasons, would become the premier 'light- air' Skeeter pilot in the country. AJ. won many regatta races, (although no over-all regatta titles,) and in 1986 he would reclaim the lce Yacht Challenge Pennant of America for our club in a stunning upset over the Skeeter lce Boat Club of Lake Geneva. In the year 2000, almost twenty years later to the day, A.J. was again winning DN races on Lake Kegonsa.

ISA News & Views correspondent Mark Langenfeld, sailed for a number of years in both the Nite and later, the Renegade field. However Mark was a young man going places. Career took precedence over ice boating and early in the 1990's he sold his Renegade to Gary Sternberg. Mark is still interested in the sport and maybe one day we will see his return to it 

Bill McCormick still celebrates his birthday around the first of the year and still, occasionally, competitively sails his Renegade in 4LIYC and regatta events. In the decades since the 1980 Bloody Mary race both Art Jark and Jim Payton have passed away. Both are members of the exclusive 4LIYC Honor Roll after long years of competition and service to this sport

Art Jark was one of the great characters the sport of ice yachting has ever had the pleasure of knowing. A competitive Skeeter pilot for many years, Art's yacht the 'Nancy E III' was a fixture at regattas for many years. It was twice used by the Pewaukee Ice Yacht Club to capture the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America.

Jim Payton capped a remarkable ice yachting career, (with numerous race wins and regatta titles sailing one of the sports legendary yachts, the A boat 'Mary B'), by becoming the Chief Judge of our club. Jim dropped the flag for club and regatta rates for many years. His presence on the ice is greatly missed to this day.

And finally, one last note, the weather. The ISA News & Views reported back in 1980', "Its been a bazaar weather year." and " A warm and snowless December, we finally got on the ice the 29th and 30th."

Temperatures in the fortes? Worries of thin ice? Sound familiar? Ahh yes... The more things change.... the more they stay the same.

Now You Can Learn to Talk Like a Skeeter Sailor!
By Tom Hyslop
Winter 2000,Vol. 4, No. 2

Are you frustrated that you're stuck in the little boats and can't get into the Skeeter Fleet? Do the next best thing and learn to talk like a Skeeter sailor.

Here are a few of the better quotes and words of wit and wisdom used frequently in the Skeeter fleet. Use generously and freely in your conversations and soon your friends will think that you, too, race a Skeeter. A lot of hand gestures and body English is recommended. I'll be looking for you on the ice!

"They're not safe at any speed."

"It's the world's safest sport because you never do it"

"The sail design is in the computer so it can never be duplicated."

"Ice boat sails provide more bitch per buck (Bpb?) than any other sails built."

'That's why they call them trip wires."

"The boat has to baby buggy."

"No one ever said it was fair."

"It's a magic mast."

"Don't hike it past pecker high."

"What rules?"

"They're all fast when it blows."

"Where can I get one of those?"

"Owning two Skeeters is like money in the bank."

"Ya gotta average."

"You had plenty of room."

"I didn't see you."

"Ice boating is 90% anticipation, 10% realization."

"You're not ice boating unless you're sailing a Skeeter."

"I'll have another