During the summer of 2005, a rare event took place in the ice boat world. A new hull was made for the world's largest ice boat, the Deuce. Under the direction of long-time ice boat builder, Bill Mattison, the Deuce's new hull was constructed in owner Rick Hennig's shop, known as the Cabbage Patch. Start from the bottom and scroll up for the whole story and pictures.

February 24, 2006

Tales of the Deuce

Jack Jacob's memories of the Deuce:

"Yes, it's the Deuce...
The boat was the same flat green that the cottage on Harsens Island was painted. My grandfather felt you should never spend anytime on parts of a race boat that don't make it go fast (like paint). Every season when they were setting the boat up, the fun part of the day was when it came time to carry side skates down to the ice. Three big guys would always set it up so that Howard Boston was standing right next to one of the skates, so they could ask for Howard's help. The guys were about 6 feet tall. Howard was approx 5 feet. The 3 big guys would lift one of the skates on their shoulders, and Howard would find a spot in the middle and reach up and carry the middle like a waiter carrying a try of drinks. They'd laugh all the way down to the ice.
When it came time to build a new mast, Grandfather went somewhere way north in Canada, selected the particular tree he wanted. They cut it down and trimmed it, then left it in a stream to age for a year and a half before they cut slabs out of it. CS Jacobs (my grandfather) was in the middle of a race, the boat flickered. CS was thrown a LONG way from the boat. Everyone rushed over, the first thing CS said was, "I think I have a concussion...I can't hardly see". Another sailor standing there lifted grandfather's goggles and saw his glasses were missing. The force of the flicker caused his goggles to pull away from his face, his glasses came off, then the goggles snapped back against his face. Once he found his glasses and put them back on...he could see.
One of the stories I believed for years until I tried it myself. They had a small English car they took the doors off of to push the Bull and the Deuce for pleasure sailing. The story was on a clear calm day you could push the Deuce at 60 mph with the car and it would sail for hours.
After pushing a number of smaller boats with quads and ATVs, you find if you were to push it at 60mph, it's coasting for hours not sailing. CS was trying to convince everyone that the Deuce was so efficient it would sail with pretty much no wind.
If I think of more Deuce stories I'll let you know. It's great to see these candid shots. There was always a pro photographer on the ice when we sailed so most of the pics we have are professional and posed. They're nice , but don't show the emotion."

Cabbage Patch in Soft Water Mode

Via Todd Knopp:

Well, the Cabbage Patch has the Deuce all loaded and ready to travel but unfortunately the WSSA was postponed and the Northwest is still looking for a suitable site. The Cabbage patch always has to have a project so while we wait for conditions might as well be working on summer stuff. Rick's new soft water boat arrived and was whisked in to the toy box. The Boat a 1D48 just came in from the east coast and will get the double deluxe treatment and be ready for spring. (I hope that Jay can get the keys for the purse by then.)

February 3, 2006

Weighty Matters

Sometimes we receive interesting emails from people unfamiliar with ice boating. A Brigham Young University student in Utah recently emailed to ask how much a stern steerer weighs.

Ken from BYU poses the question, "What I wasn't able to find on your site, or others that I looked at, was the weight of an average iceboat and the weight of the Stern Steerers. I'm doing this research as part of a case for a tax class. If the average weight of the heaviest iceboats is more or at least equal to average weight of a regular truck, I may be able to argue that the man whose parked truck fell through the ice while watching an iceboat race was not negligent." UPDATE: Scroll down to read the outcome of the case.

The stern-steerer skippers reply:

Deuce Skipper Rick Hennig: The weight of the deuce is 4000 lbs race ready. But unlike the truck it displaces her weight at 3 points. 2 of the points are 36ft wide and the other is 40ft behind. Now the truck on the other hand displaces it's weight in a very small area it's tires are 7ft apart and 10ft apart in length. So even the heaviest of stern steerers displace allot less weight in one place then any truck would.

Miss Madison Skipper Richard Lichtfeld: I think that anyone that who goes out on any ice and falls thru is negligent. By law anything that goes on lakes Monona and Mendota has to float. Ice boats weigh anywhere from 50 to 3,000 pounds but most are made of wood and float and I do believe that they are all required to float.

Flying Dutchman Skipper Dave Lallier: Nubs weighed some of the stern steerers and that was interesting. Rosemary weighs in at just under 1300 lbs, Country Woman, the Class C that we used to have, weighs 1490 lbs. I am not sure what the Dutchman weighs, but we suspect it is about 2500 - 3000 lbs. I know that boat is very heavy. There is a big difference however between an iceboat which spreads it weight over 6' long runners and a truck which concentrates it's weight over very small area's under the tires.

Fritz Skipper Fred Stritt: I think you might lose your case based on the following. I own the Fritz, a class A Stern Steerer, set up to sail she weights in at 1860 lbs. 43' long, plank 28' (cross bar) She is avg. size for the class. The largest boat the Duce 54' x 34' 3600lbs. The smallest weights around 1,000-1,200. Stern Steerers are classed by sail area not by boat size, but the A's are the biggest.

One thing to remember is that the boat sitting on the ice displaces the wt. on her 3 runners (28' across and 27' to the steering runner on my boat). At 1,860 split 3 ways is 620 lbs ea runner, less than a third of the wt of a avg. truck. The truck's foot print is quite a bit smaller, say 5.5' x 7' @ 3,000 for a small Blazer, split 4 ways (tiers) is only 750 lbs ,but look at the footprint size. Also as I read your question the guy was sitting watching racing that could be the key. The ice boat is moving thus her wt. is not compounded in one spot for a given moment.

Ken replies with news of the outcome:
And justin case you were interested, our group was able to prove to our tax professor that the man watching the ice boat race was not negligent. We foundasimilar case abouta manwhose car fell through the ice while he was ice fishing. The IRS ruled that he was not negligent because he had not planned for his car to fall through the ice. And he was able to take a casualty loss deduction on his tax return.:)

But even without the prior ruling, with the information Chip Sawyer gave me about ice boat launchings (I understand the iceboat, the trailer, and the tow vehicle all go out onto the ice for launchings), our group would have been able to make a strong argument that a "reasonable and ordinarily prudent person" at a ice boat race would be led to assume that his vehicle would be safe on the ice.

Before being given this case in class I didn't know a thing about ice boating, but now I know a thing or two about the sport. If I'm ever in Madison, Wisconsin during winter I'm definitelygonna make sure to watch a real ice boat race.

Thanks again!


January 5, 2006:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 22

Via Todd Knopp:

That darn weather! Conditions preclude the Deuce from being set up outside so we had to just make room inside. Things went together just like the old hull. The rigging was readjusted and marked, bottom rod reattached, and main sheet system installed. The only items left to work out are the locations of the cam cleats for the mast controller, jib sheet, and main sheet track control which should wrap up by the weekend. By the next update it should be on the trailer. We would like to thank Deb for posting the Deuce update's so the ice boat community can follow the rebuilding project that has been quite an experience. In the future we hope to follow the rebuilding of the Debutante which is slated for this year.

December 28, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 22

Via Todd Knopp:

Now I think the painting is finally done! Rick has sprayed enough paint to cover a fleet of DNs. The hull and plank are under plastic to protect it while painting finishes. So now all that's left is to finish the hardware installation that remains uncompleted. The jib trimming has been revamped to make it more functional, the hull/plank bracket has been reworked so there won't be any abrasions, and details pertaining to the main sheet traveler were worked on. The grab bars will be completed by the weekend and the basket lacing needs detailing. New cushions are in the works as is the climate controlled bubble just like the front-seat skeeters. Oh that's still on the wish list. With the weather not looking good for the weekend I'm not sure what day we are going to assemble her. Will have to dig out the erection manual again to refresh ourselves so we don't scratch it.

December 22, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 21

Via Todd Knopp: Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! Just when I thought the painting was over, the color difference between the hull and the plank was not acceptable. Good thing Rick has sanding fairies to prepare the plank. So I know the green painting is now complete with the plank being sprayed last night, but I see the fairies have taken the rigging off the mast so one more round should do it. The plan still is to erect the boat before the end of the year. I hope the paint on the trailer looks ok. Have a good holiday from the Cabbage Patch. P.S. If any one has a good use for the hull formally known as the Deuce let Rick know. Post your suggestions here.

December 15, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 20

Via Todd Knopp: Well that's done! Painting is finished, baskets white and hull green. Tape coming off, baskets, jib track, and name go on this weekend. The boat can be set up next week right on schedule. The new main sheet hardware requires the boom blocks be modified but the material required is on it's way. I think that by Jan. 1 the complete package will be ready for the first adventure.

December 12, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 19

Via Todd Knopp:

The weekend has produced a primed hull and baskets. Sanding and scuffing of the primer will follow and the finish coat is scheduled for this week. The new basket mounting hardware is back from the polisher and is ready for installation. The completion of the hull still looks good for set up by Christmas.

Big Tree, Big Names, and Big Thrills for Ice Boaters

Wonderful newspaper article about the building of the Deuce hull.

December 8, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 18

Via Todd Knopp:
Hardware mounting was completed with the mounting of the main sheet track system last night, now it's into the spray booth. The primer will be applied Sunday morning, sanded by Wednesday and finish applied on the 17th. The new hull weighed in two hundred lighter but Rick has gained one hundred so we end up with a net loss of a hundred pounds. The plan is to set the boat up after the 25th and make sure everything fits and on the trailer after that.

November 30, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 17

Via Todd Knop:The hardware mounting continues. The steering-post was cast in, the hole is over sized and a casting shaft with a tapered end has wax applied and is cast in the place with epoxy graphite mixture. The shaft is inserted and the mixture is poured in around the taper the end, then it is vibrated to remove air, the shaft is pushed up to remove the taper and the bottom around the shaft bottom is sealed with wax to prevent any leakage. Once the epoxy is set the shaft is heated the wax melts and the shaft is removed with a totally sealed and friction less steering post shaft. The baskets are being dry fit to layout for new mounting plates, the intent is to reduce the penetrations into the hull and simplify the fastening. The mast step is in final fabrication and should be ready for mounting next Wednesday. The plan is to paint the first weekend in December, assemble the boat and then put it on the trailer ready by Jan1.

November 10, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 16

The hull has been finish sanded, the first coat of epoxy applied and sanded, hardware has returned from the polisher, and ends were installed with bottom fittings last night. The hull will be rolled over and the deck hardware is next. The baskets have been repaired and carbon fiber added to weak area's so we never get that sinking feeling. Paint material is here and the goal is to be painted by the end of the month. The scuttle butt is that the Debutante is in the planning stages of replacing her hull in the near future.

October 26, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 15

Via Todd Knop: Well things are really shaping up now! The clamps are off and Bill and Rick are hard at work getting the final shape. The hull will be ready for finish sanding and first coat of West Epoxy by the end of the week. Another coat of thicken Epoxy after that, final sanding and paint. The hardware was reviewed and sent to the polisher, the upgrades are in the planning and fabrication stage and Bill always has a suggestion or two.

October 22, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 14

Via Todd Knop: The hull is glued up! On Saturday Bill, Paul, Jack and the usual Cabbage Patch Kids were able to complete the final gluing of the top and bottom. The backing blocking had been installed during the week and top and bottom final shaped with the pieces to be laminated, located so they are glued in the right location. The inside had been coated with epoxy and even Eric Sawyer stopped in to help ready the clamps for the weekend work. (I always wanted to go for a ride on a laker). The crew from Madison arrived, final instructions were given and within an hour or so the boards were in place and clamps set. Clamps will come off Tuesday and shaping will start Wednesday with hardware attachment after that.

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The Madison Crew: Jack Ripp, Paul Krueger, & Bill Mattison

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Photo Credit: Paul Krueger

Boats everywhere!

Clamps ready to go.

The biggest joiner I've ever seen.

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Rick & Bill

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Shop art.

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What dreams are made of...

Hmm, there's a connection here somehow...

October 17, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 13

Via Todd Knop: Well, Bill says that's enough chirping-let's get to work. The clamps are off and the inside is being coated, the top and bottom boards are being prepped for gluing this Saturday. Bill predicted that she would be together before the end of the month. One only wonders with all that wood and time left over before ice what could be built? Total clamps used:501.

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October 15, 2005:

Glue Party!

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 12

Update #3: 501!

From Rick Hennig: The final clamp count was counted 2 times at the time the clamps came off and we both counted 501 clamps that has to be some sort or record. We would like to thank every one that showed up 25 people. But most of all our famous leader, Bill Mattison, and 2nd in command, Jack Ripp, and Bob and Jane Pegel. It's really something to work with the legends of ice boating. Also like to thank Nubs Salzsieder who has past away last year. He let us use 50 of his clamps and he will always be with us, just helping from a higher place. Nobody ever leaves you will always be helping in our hearts minds and friendships. All ice boaters are just great people! Thanks so much Rick Hennig and the cabbage patch team

Update from Todd Knop:

Well as you have witnessed the side boards have been attached, A Large group of Ice Boaters from Madison, Oshkosh, Fondulac, Pewaukee, Michigan, Lake Geneva and of course there was the cabbage patch kids, where able to sign the inside of the Hull as Bill guided the sides into place. The final clamp count will be verified as they come off but it's close to Five hundred. Lunch was served to the hungry crew and of course it had sour kraut in the menu.

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Calm before the storm.


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Bill explains how it will be done.

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Jane gets ready to mix glue.

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Everyone signs the boat.

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By Deb Whitehorse

Ice boaters and their friends from all over Wisconsin and Michigan gathered at Rick Hennig's Cabbage Patch shop to help glue and clamp the new Deuce hull.

Jane Pegel kept a steady pace mixing up the glue for everyone and was too busy mixing to keep track of how many cups were handed out. She talked about the last time she remembers the construction of a new Class A Stern Steerer hull is when Melges Boatworks created a new hull around the old hull of the Flying Dutchmen in the 1950s. Bill Mattison and Jack Ripp recalled that it was during the early 1950s that Madison's last Class A Stern Steerer hull, the Mary B, was built by Carl Bernard and Frank Tetzlaff. Bill said that he mixed the glue for the Mary B and that it was a two-part powder and water system.

Amazing to know that the six-hundred year-old Sitka Spruce tree, part of which is now the new Deuce hull, was a seedling during the decline of the Mongol Empire and before the Europeans (Vikings excluded) set foot on this continent. The wood is of such high quality that it normally would have been made into musical instruments.

An accurate count of the number of clamps used was difficult to determine because as soon as they were counted, more were added. Rick figures about 500 clamps were used and he'll have an exact number when the clamps are counted as they are removed.

Check back for more photos from Todd Knop.

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Ron Rosten & Jack Ripp

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Bill Mattison carefully looks over the clamps

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Clamps being applied fast and furious.

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Everyone brought clamps.

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Ron & Bob Pegel.

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Mike Peters and friend assists Dr. Hennig

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There's Chip Sawyer in the blue. He came all the way from Michigan to help.

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Rick & Mike

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There's Jim Gluek
on the right.

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Birds eye view.

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Todd Knop

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Part of the crew.

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October 5, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 11

Via Todd Knop: The side boards are now laminated, cut to rough size, run through the planer and as the photo's show Bill and Rick adding carbon fiber to the inside of the side boards for added strength. The Boards finished out just under one inch in thickness. The next order of business is to clean the carbon areas and prep for the big glue day which will attach both side boards.

September 27, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 10

Via Todd Knop: We've got one side glued up, remaining scaffing tonight and second gluing scheduled for Friday, September 30.

September 17, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 9

Via Todd Knop: Bill said that the wood's dry- so back to work. With moisture meter reading of 6% it's time to start making side boards. Boards were sawed to 3 plus inches in width, 11/8 thick, and scarfed to a minimum of 55 feet. The frame has been marked on the Table so the side board strips can be laminated to the shape of the frame. The First side should be laminated by Wednesday and the other soon after. More later.

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September 12, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 8

Via Rick Hennig: We have had the pleasure of working with Bill Mattison. We started out by lofting the whole Deuce hull. This means making a full size blue print of the boat. None of us have done this before, but Bill was very patient with us and taught us the art of lofting. In 2 days time we had this done and you could see the whole picture, chines, bulkheads, sideboards, top and bottom. I learned more in those 2 days than any week of my life. Bill showed us how he wanted the bulkheads made with 3/8" bruynzeel plywood and a 2" wide x 7/8" thick sitka spruce border around one side. We did that, then Bill made all the angled cuts for the sides and chines. It took him about 45 minutes per bulkhead. This is very involved, lots of angles. Bill had us make up the chines which ended up 1 1/2" sq x 63' long. Talk about some noodles. Then with all our stations bolted to the bench we started gluing her together. Stern block first, chines, bulkheads and bow block. Bill machined the bow and stern blocks that fit perfectly. After we had her all glued up and dried, we unclamped everything and Bill fared all sides with his hand planes and belt sander. We followed him with the banjo boards or idiot boards until she was all fared in. We are now waiting for the side boards and top and bottom wood to dry so we can install them, but there is plenty of other jobs to complete while waiting.

I would like to thank Bill personally. He is a leader of men that has the knowledge and ability to do anything. He has the patience to make even a knuckle head like me understand what he's trying to do. I have never seen anybody work so fast and efficiently and he's always looking 2 steps ahead. I will never forget the lessons Bill has taught us but I will never forget the lessons in life we learned from him. I have never met a man like Bill and I know I will never in the future. I am in awe of him. Bill Mattison is the real deal. Every ice boaters friend. Please stay tuned in and Bill will show us the art of closing the skeleton up.

Best Regards,
Rick, Todd, Keith, Dan and Jesse

September 8, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 7

Via Todd Knop: Well, Bill and the Cabbage Patch kids have the frame glued up. Today the plan is to fair the frame so it's ready for side boards, then the frame will be removed from the table, stations removed and the side will be laidout ready for the soon to be dried wood. The boards were selected over the weekend and sawed to the desired width and installed in the drying booth, nick named the orbitron. Two dehumidifiers and four fans running 24/7-the water is flowing out. Bill said that he thinks it should be a couple of weeks for the wood to dry, so he was going on a chopper trip to show his amazing circus wagon collection. Will keep you posted.

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September 3, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 6

Via Todd Knop: Here's the progress before Bill had to ride off. He took the remaining bulkhead back to his shop so that he could cut them. The frame will have the top chine glued on this weekend ready for Bill when he comes back next week.

September 2, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 5

Via Todd Knop: Bill is hard at work cutting and installing the bulkheads to the chines and the frame should be in good shape by the end of today. With the high gas prices Bill had to pull the old bike out to commute to the Cabbage Patch. He said he needs to install a cup holder cause he keeps spilling his drink. The wood arrived, so some time will be involved in sorting and stacking for proper drying. The next item will be laying out the sides for cutting. Well, I have to move some wood and will report soon.

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September 1, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 4

Via Todd Knop:The work continues, The chines were made to sixtyfeet per Bill's orders ready for today. Bill is setting up the framing stations prepping for assemble of the chines, bulkheads and end blocks this work should be done by tomorrow.

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August 25, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 3

Via Todd Knop: Work continues; the bulkheads have been cut and backing glued on ready for final sawing, the end blocks have been cut and are ready for installation to the frame, the frame supports were cut and glued up and are ready for layout on the table. Work planned for the next week will be final prep bulkheads, layout stations for gluing, cut and scaff chines

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August 22, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 2

Via Todd Knop: "Well, the clock is now running with the first gluing taking place. The end-blocks were glued and will be cleaned up and ready for Bill [Mattison] to layout the cut outs. The material on hand was re-sawn and planed so the chines can be cut and glued. Of course the planer started acting up so a good looking-at was in order. The epoxy pumps are in place and the material at the ready. Bill will be by this week to start cutting bulkheads and end blocks. The Wood from British Columbia will delivered by next Friday."

Photo Credits: Todd Knop

August 17, 2005:

A New Hull for the Deuce: Part 1

The Deuce suffered irreparable damage to her 75 year-old hull during the 2005 Northwest Regatta at Oshkosh. Rick Hennig and the crew consulted with 4LIYC ice boat builder extraordinaire, Bill Mattison, and they determined that the hull was too far gone for repair. Plans were put in motion to build a new hull, the wood and West epoxy were ordered and delivered, and the Cabbage Patch readied for the big project. Todd Knop sends the first photos and we look forward to following this historic project.

"Here are Bill and Rick working on the lofting of the new Deuce. The new 60 foot work table with the lofting is being worked on with the Deuce on it's side next to the table. The lofting should be done today with the plywood bulkhead cutting starting soon. The chine lumber will start being cut and scarfed soon. That's the update for now."

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March 18, 2005:

Cabbage Patch Update

The Opening of the Deuce & Rum Runner

Via Todd Knop: "Here are a couple pictures of the "Opening of the Deuce and the Rum Runner". All the hardware is coming off Deuce so it can get a ten-year make over...wish we didn't put all the fasteners on like they were never coming off again. The interior of Deuce contained a first edition of Bill Mattison's TheSecrets of Ice Boating manuscript. It could be worth something. Rum Runner is Steve Schalk's Boe Skeeter that we are making a lofting and copy of the bulkheads. We hear it was formerly a home to a possum that had passed earlier."

The hull of the Deuce suffered damage during the 2005 Northwest Ice Yacht
Regatta held at Oshkosh during the first race.