Some History

Taking the cue from the NEIYA on posting a bit of history now and again, here are some interesting tidbits clipped from the Grand Traverse Ice Yacht Club:

1896: Kingston Ice Yacht Club forms in Ontario, Canada. The active members’ own twenty-six stern steerers sporting from 325 to 725 square feet of canvas sail. The club deeds the Walker International Challenge Cup for Ice Yachts. This trophy donated by the distiller Hiram Walker & Sons, Ltd. of Walkerville, Ontario, to promote ice yacht racing on Lake Ontario, the Bay of Quinte, and the River St. Lawrence.

1903: Stuart Cup trophy established for competition among boats with sail areas over 600 square feet. First bow steering ice boats sailed. Bow steering lessens spinouts or “flickers.” Biggest safety improvement to date in the history of ice yachting.

1913: The book “Iceboating,” edited by Herbert L. Stone, is published. He outlines various “State of the Art” gaff rigged stern steerer designs, and also the South Bay Scooter. Hotbeds of ice boating activity are the Hudson River, Orange Lake, and Lake Chautauqua in New York, the Shrewsbury River in New Jersey, Lake Champlain in Vermont, Gull Lake in Michigan, and Madison, Wisconsin.

1927: Lake Mendota and Lake Monona Ice Yacht Clubs, active before the turn of the century, merge to form the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club in Madison, Wisconsin. First marconi rigged stern steerers sailed. Stern steerers transported to regattas via railway flat cars. Telegrams sent to alert racers that regattas are on.

1933: Walter Beauvois of Williams Bay, Wisconsin designs and builds the Beau-Skeeter, a front steering iceboat. Even with just 75 square feet of sail, it’s the fastest thing on the lake. Skeeter Ice Boat Club forms on Lake Geneva.

1936: DN iceboat design developed by Archie Arroll, Joe Lodge, and Norman Jarrett in a competition held by the Detroit News newspaper. The DN can trace its ancestry directly to the early Skeeters.

1946: Bill Sarns, a third generation machinist, starts ice yacht hardware manufacturing business in his parents garage at 18 years of age.

1947: Renegade one design Skeeter is developed by Elmer Millenbach of the Detroit Ice Yacht Club.

1950: E Skeeter class dominates open and free for all events at regattas. Hey day of the picturesque and grand stern steerers over.

1951: New Hamburgh Ice Yacht Club, inactive for 25 years for lack of safe ice on the Hudson River, turns custody and stewardship of Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America over to the Eastern Ice Yachting Association.

1954: First IDNIYRA “Annual Regatta” hosted by the North Star Sail Club and sailed on Lake St. Clair. Top five finishers are Jack Moran, Skip Boston, Paul Eggert, Bill Sporer and Bill Sarns. Bill Sarns again wins Scripps trophy in regatta on Lake St. Clair.

1960: Jane Pegel first woman to win the DN Annual Regatta. Arrow one design fiberglass iceboat designed and built by the Boston Sail Co. of Mt. Clemens, Michigan. Dacron fully accepted as the sail cloth of choice. Nylon, which replaced cotton, now obsolete.

1962: First set of DN plans, drawn by Bill Sarns, leaves North America for Europe. Kess Kortenoever, a former Olympic ice skater, builds the first DN in The Netherlands. Sodus Bay Ice Boat Club on Lake Ontario in New York State incorporates. Original club goes back to the days of the stern steerer.

1965: Chickawaukee Ice Boat Club forms to promote DN racing in Maine.

1968: Dick Slates of Pewaukee, Wisconsin designs and build the Nite. Two wooden prototypes built. Design refined and fiberglass production begins in 1970. Over 550 of these one-design, side by side boats to be built.

1971: Five European DN skippers come to North America and race in the Annual Regatta on Geist Reservoir in Indianapolis, Indiana. These are first transcontinental competitors in an ice yacht regatta. West System Epoxy first offered for sale by Gougeon Brothers, Inc. of Bay City, Michigan. In decade of the 70s, DNs supercede Skeeters as the most popular iceboat in North America.

1973: First intercontinental ice yacht regatta, the inaugural DN Gold Cup, sailed on Gull Lake, Michigan. Art Teutsch of New Baltimore, Michigan is IDNIYRA commodore. The wedge hull shape is introduced by the Estonians. Ain Vilde of Estonia wins first Gold Cup. Randy Johnson of Gull Lake finishes second. Iron curtain opens so that Vilde, Helmuth Leppik, and Endel Vooremaa can travel from Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to compete.

1988: Composite mast construction begins to displace the aluminum spar as the go fast secret weapon. DN mast weight and balance point specification introduced to minimize performance differences between aluminum, wood, and composite masts. Sending faxes replaces leaving messages on answering machines to alert racers about favorable conditions.

1989: Dan Clapp of Fair Haven, New Jersey, designs and builds the Skeeter “Coming Attraction.” The design is revolutionary. A canopy covers the cockpit in front of the mast. Other innovations reduce aerodynamic drag and total weight to a minimum
1996: Elmer Millenbach passes away. During his Renegade racing days, wins 15 of 17 ISA regattas entered, and every Northwest Ice Yacht Association Renegade regatta he enters. Ron Sherry founds Composite Concepts in his garage in Clinton Township, Michigan. DN mast specification changed to allow composite construction, wood no longer required.

1997: DN official construction specifications now evolved so that boat continuously improves. DN most popular iceboat in North America and the world because of ability to sail in wide range of ice conditions. DN ranks in top ten of all one design sailing yachts competing in a National Championship in North America. Present state of DN evolution allows senior sailors to compete successfully at highest level of Gold fleet.

2000: E- mail and internet bulletin boards become standard for informing racers of ice conditions and regattas

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