Welcome to iceboat.org

The Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club is one of the most active iceboat clubs in North America. We’ve been building and racing iceboats for over 100 years in Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

Ice Is Never 100% Safe.

Our ice reports are strictly for iceboat racers. Recreational iceboaters, kite boarders, cross country skiers, and ice fishermen should not rely on our ice reports. We have safety equipment. Do you?

Buy or Sell Your Iceboat

One of the best pages in North America to buy or sell iceboats and their parts. There’s also a complete list of vendors who will supply iceboats, sails, and their components.

Common Questions:

How can I get started? How fast can they go? How much do they cost? Is it safe?

Regatta Watch

Information about the ISA, NIYA, WSSA, Nite, and DN regattas.

Iceboat Classes

Learn about Skeeters, DNs, Stern Steerers, Renegades, Nites, and Ice Optimists.

The Rules.

The purpose of iceboat racing rules is to prevent collisions.

Ice Yacht Clubs

The best way to learn about iceboating and make life long friendships is to join a local club.

Why We Sail.

“If all our ice were glass, slightly wet, and all our air reasonably steady with lifters just where needed, sailing would be perfect. Sometimes we do find this, and it is worth waiting years to have. Meanwhile we must accept the more ordinary ice conditions, ordinary weather and wind, and gracefully accept snow, sometimes for weeks. Our ideal comes from time to time, the Great Maker gives only so much of the very best.” Charles H. Johnson.

Iceboating for Kids

Ice Optimists were created specifically as a youth trainer, designed to be easily built using commonly available materials, and to keep costs to a minimum.

UPCOMING:
BURGEE: Order your 4LIYC Burgee
4LIYC Meeting: November 2022

Don Sanford Recognized for Historic Preservation


4LIYC Nite sailor, author of On Fourth Lake, and producer of the MARY B, Madison’s Legendary Iceboat documentary (he’s a busy guy!) Don Sanford was recognized last night by the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation as a “Friend of Preservation.” Congratulations Don and we look forward to your next projects.

Don Sanford at the one block where it’s always busy with spectators and paparazzi.

If Darth Vadar Had a Land Yacht


Speed enthusiasts will have noticed yesterday’s unveiling of a sailing craft built to top Richard Jenkin’s GREENBIRD record set in 2009 at Ivanpah. The fastest names in soft-water sailing are leading the effort, Team New Zealand, winners of the 36th America’s Cup.
For comparison, HORONUKE is 10m high, 14m long, and 7m wide (32′ high,45′ long, 23′ wide), while the world’s largest ice yacht, DEUCE, is 51′ high, 54′- 6″ long, and 36′ wide.

From Rule69 Blog:
If Darth Vader was into land yachting, this would be his chosen vehicle. It’s a truly remarkable feat of boat building and engineering and gives Glenn Ashby every chance of smashing through the magical 126.1mph record set by Britain’s (indeed Lymington’s) Richard Jenkins over a decade ago.

…And crikey, when that weather window does come, it’s going to be full-on to eclipse the mark set. This is one of those records that has stood the test of time. The monumental effort that Jenkins exerted saw him chase the dream for almost a decade with the burning mark of Bob Schumacher’s [one of our own, a DN ice sailor – Ed.] 116mph run that was set in 1999 etched into his ambition.
Read more.

MORE: Team NZ Launch Land Yacht

Season Finale DN Newsletter

Oskar Svensson  of Sweden at the 2022 DN Worlds. Photo by Anna Pataki.

Are you missing ice sailing and dreaming about ice yet? Relive the season by reading the season-ending DN newsletter, Runner Tracks. Ron Sherry breaks down the DN US Nationals race by race. David Frost shares his adventures of the last-minute decision to attend the DN World Championships in Europe. Plus the best photography by Gretchen Dorian and Anna Pataki. Take a look.

RUNNER TRACKS IS AVAILABLE IN THREE DIFFERENT FORMATS:
Flipbook Magazine
Download pdf file (best for tablets)
Download single page pdf (best for phones)

A Life That Dreams Are Made Of

20′ banner made by Tim Stanton.

“He would have hated this.” Billy Mattison reminded the packed room at Gunderson’s Funeral Home about the humble nature of his father, Bill. The memories of Bill shared by those who had preceded Billy were unique and moving. It was a privilege to witness a group of highly accomplished individuals speak in awe of their friend. Here are a few highlights from the people invited by emcee Don Sanford to share their best stories.

Bill organized the building of a new hull for the world’s largest iceboat, Rick Hennig’s DEUCE. Rick recounted that experience with great affection and humor. When Bill saw the semi-truck full of Sitka Spruce roll into the shop parking lot, he turned to Rick and said, “That’s the stuff dreams are made of.”

Bill’s neighbor said that when Bill came over to watch him tinker in his garage, it was “like God himself coming to watch a mere mortal.”

“Yeah, I know a little about that.” America’s Cup veteran, Larry Malik, recalled Bill’s typically understated reply when asked if he could fix a photo processing machine during an AC Australian campaign. Larry shared the famous story of the day Bill took the film of the AC boat to the one-hour photo store, where he learned that the store’s processing machine was on the fritz. Bill fixed the machine and came back with the pictures.

Lon Schoor, Bill’s long-time Mendota Yacht Club A Scow partner, marveled at no matter how complicated the project; Bill was so organized in his thoughts that he didn’t have to write anything down and always made the deadline. He left us laughing with a story about how Bill schemed how they would sell the idea of buying an A Scow to their wives, Donna and Mauretta. Bill told Mauretta that Lon had purchased the boat, while Lon was to tell Donna that it was Bill’s boat.

Dr. Kyle Metzloff, a sailor, ice sailor, and UW Professor of Industrial Metal studies, spoke about Bill’s genius and ability to pick up new and complicated ideas. Having never dealt with computers, he learned to operate a mini CNC mill for creating scale model Mattison Circus parts. At an older age, Bill figured out computers.

Peter Harken shared his amazement at Bill and Paul Krueger’s work ethic. They never wasted a minute, not even in the bathroom where Peter assumed “they had a drill press installed.” Peter acknowledged those who traveled from afar, including New Jersey Skeeter sailor Dan Clapp and America’s Cup alumni from San Diego.

Sailing legend Buddy Melges came to the podium, fixing his steely blue eyes on Mauretta and the family for a full minute, not saying a word, holding the audience in his hand while he made us wait. Buddy spoke about their America’s Cup days and how remarkable it was for a guy who came from the Scow world; Bill could make a 12-meter sail faster. “He did not sail on it, but he made it faster when he worked on it.” (Later, I heard stories in the bar about how at least one of Bill’s modifications caused a stir with some AC engineers, but they calmed down when the boat speed increased.)

“He would have hated this.” Billy Mattison reminded the packed room about the humble nature of his father, Bill. The last to speak at Bill’s Celebration of Life, Billy had to follow some esteemed acts, giants of the sailing world, who had shared stories from the podium of the man’s genius. Billy’s poignant closing remarks emphasized the private family side of Bill and his devotion to his wife of 65 years, Mauretta, their children, Lynn and Billy, and their grandchildren.

“I think it is time for a dipper.”

On our way to Gundersons, Don Anderson and I delivered cakes to the Breakwater for the post-memorial reception sponsored by the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club and Mendota Yacht Club. The manager surprised us with the news that Mauretta had called with instructions that she would be picking up the bar tab. On Monday, unsure of the damage, the two yacht clubs offered to pitch in with the bill. Mauretta said no, adamant that Bill would have insisted on it. Thanks, Bill.
Debra Rosten Whitehorse

PREVIOUSLY
Home of the Volleyball(?) Champs
Nothing Fickler
Bill’s Circus Life
The Icing On The Lake”
“Fast Forward Since Birth”
“The Hard-Water Gang” with Bill Mattison at the 2001 ISA
Shooting the Breeze with Bill Mattison
Bill Mattison Inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame
Iceboaters Fingerprints
Willy St. Iceboat Shop Archives

Book Club: Fauerbach Brewing Company

“PRINCESS III in action” in front of Fauerbach Brewery on Lake Monona.

For over a hundred years, the Fauerbach family have been Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club members and officers. The epicenter of Madison iceboating ran across the isthmus from the Bernard Boat Shop on Lake Mendota to the Fauerbach Brewery on Lake Monona. Until the brewery was closed, 4LIYC members gathered in the brewery’s elaborately carved bar for a “cold dipper” to talk smart and conduct club business. Peter Fauerbach has written a book about his family, the brewery, the social history of Madison, and the Fauerbach’s iceboats. Peter’s book is a must-have for iceboating, beer, and Madison history fans.
Buy your copy online here.

4LIYC -Home of the (Volleyball?) Champions

Bill Mattison and Ken Whitehorse at a 4LIYC trophy banquet. Don Ermer in the background.

PREVIOUSLY
Bill’s Circus Life
The Icing On The Lake”
“Fast Forward Since Birth”
“The Hard-Water Gang” with Bill Mattison at the 2001 ISA
Shooting the Breeze with Bill Mattison
Bill Mattison Inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame
Iceboaters Fingerprints
Willy St. Iceboat Shop Archives

Here are two stories from Ken Whitehorse and Greg Whitehorse about Bill.

Did you know the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club had a volleyball team? The late Bill McCormick sponsored the team. Bill was a terrific ball player! (Me, not so much.) And yes, Bill Mattison was a fantastic spiker! He could pound the cover off the ball! We played in the city power volleyball league against younger teams, including university club teams. We were city champions in 1978.

After a match, while having a few dippers, we talked about how cold it was. “It was makin’ ice.” Bill Mattison recalled how bitter cold it was in the trenches while fighting as a soldier in the Korean War. It was deathly cold. Bill McCormick served on a combat ship off the Korean shore during those winters. Bill McCormick said, “You know I always felt guilty and sorry for all those soldiers in that bitter cold, day after day. Bill paused ….. He said he was grateful for the warmth of the ship.

Mattison brought the conversation back to iceboating. He told us that on his return trip from the war, he drew up the plans for Honey Bucket #1. They were full-size plans, and he laid them all out on the beck of the ship! I learned a lot from those two men. We weren’t just playing volleyball. Fair Winds All. Until we meet again in the bye and bye..
Ken Whitehorse

Greg Whitehorse shared this on the 4LIYC Facebook page.

I remember stopping at the Willy St shop one winter day. Bill asked me why I wasn’t on the lake sailing the previous weekend. (I sailed in the Skeeter fleet back then.) I told him that I had broken my runner plank the week before. He said, “Bring it in. Let’s get it fixed”. I told him it was beyond repair. His next words were, “get some wood off that stack there (Sitka Spruce), and we’ll start on a new one. By the third day, it was edged, planed, glued, and shaped. Bill did the vast majority of the work. He even put a coat of epoxy on it. I brought it back to my garage, hung the hardware on it, and was on the ice the next weekend. I’m sure Bill had other things to do that week, but getting another boat on the line took precedence. What a guy!
Greg Whitehorse

Mattison Gathering May 7 @ Breakwater – Following Service

He built those! Bill Mattison and six Class A Skeeters on Geneva Lake, Fontana, WI in 1991.

Following Bill Mattison’s Memorial Service, the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club cordially invites the entire sailing community to gather with us at the Breakwater Restaurant in Monona, WI. (4-minute drive from Gunderson Funeral Home). We’ll celebrate the man who touched us all in countless ways, through our shared love of sailing, on waters both hard and soft. The man who’s workshop was always open to any sailor in need. The man whose legend is even bigger than his heart. Share your memories, share your stories, share some laughs, and undoubtedly a few tears. They just don’t make’m like Bill anymore.

Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club Remembers Bill Mattison
Date: Saturday, May 7, 2022
Time: 5:30 PM
Location: Breakwater Restaurant
6308 Inland Way, Monona, WI 53713
Link to Map

Bill Mattison Celebration of Life & Time of Sharing
2 PM – 4 PM
Service 4 PM – 5 PM
Saturday, May 7, 2022
Gunderson Funeral Home
5203 Monona Drive, Monona, WI
Link to Map

“Nothing Fickler”

Bill Mattison Obituary
Celebration of Life & Time of Sharing
2 PM – 4 PM
Saturday, May 7, 2022
Gunderson Funeral Home
5203 Monona Drive
Monona, WI
Map

Don Sanford assembled this video with photos, film, and voice over of Bill Mattison. Listen closely for one of his famous sayings, “nothing fickler than the wind.”
Youtube Video Link: https://youtu.be/8VH3cIK2zZc

Via Sailing Scuttlebutt

Bill Mattison, a legend in hard and soft water sailing, died April 25, 2022 in Madison, WI. He was 93 years of age.

When superstar sailor Buddy Melges needed help with his America’s Cup challenge in 1986, he asked his long-time friend, sailing rival and Korean War veteran, Bill Mattison for some help.

Bill had a lifetime of experience making boats like scows and ice boats sail faster and faster, and Melges’ Heart of America” 12 Metre was off the pace, but week after week his boat got faster as a direct result of Bill’s hands-on work.

He was a product of the Inland Lake region where Scows skate over the water at 25 knots and when the lakes freeze the sailors sharpen their blades and attain speeds of 100 mph on a variety of ice boats. As a perpetual champion in both scows and ice boats, he quickly adapted his impressive skills to the world of the America’s Cup.

“Whatever needed to be repaired, designed, or improved, Bill would quickly come with the solution and get it done,” said Melges.

Bill’s win list included being 14-time International Skeeter Class Champion, three-time Gar Wood Invitational Champion, 12-time Triple Crown Trophy winner, and winner of over 80 local regattas in A, E and C Scows. Most of his sailing was out of the Mendota Yacht Club in Madison, Wisconsin.

Peter Harken also noted Bill’s endless generosity. “H was always using his expertise and labor to help others get out on the ice or water. If a boat had a breakdown you could bet Bill would be there to help.”

Bill was recognized in the 2020 Induction Class of the National Sailing Hall of Fame, but his craftsmanship was not limited to sailing. He fell in love with the circus as a kid in the 1930s, and began building models of circus wagons.

Then, when he was 12 or 13, he ran away from home to join the circus. Though a career in the circus wasn’t for him, his model making earned him a spot in 2015 in the Circus Model Builders Association’s Hall of Fame.

A Celebration of Life is planned for May 7, 2022 at Gunderson Funeral Home, 5203 Monona Drive, Monona, WI.

Eight Bells: Bill Mattison M134


Bill Mattison, who has had more influence on the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club, our members, and ice sailing in general, than anyone,  has passed on. Mauretta Mattison just called to say that her husband, Bill Mattison, passed on Monday evening, April 25. Please make plans to attend Bill’s Celebration of Life on Saturday, May 7, 2022 at Gunderson Funeral Home, 5203 Monona Drive, Monona. Mauretta, Bill, and Lynn want everyone to know that they look forward to hearing stories about Bill and celebrating his extraordinary life. If you have stories or memories to share, I am gathering them for another post. Please email or call me.

Skeeter Raffle

Sorry, you are 88 years too late for the Skeeter raffle. Likely DUTCHMEN, Carl Bernard’s first Skeeter built in 1935. (Photo, c. 1955: Color slide from the Carl Bernard collection.)

An interesting rabbit hole opened while researching another iceboat. Skeeters first came into the 4LIYC in 1935, much earlier than I had assumed. A 1935 newspaper clipping mentions that a “Class E German type iceboat” had been raffled off by the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club. Carl Bernard had a few photos of an early Skeeter without a springboard set up on the pier at the Bernard Boat House on Lake Mendota. I also remember seeing the German iceboat plans in the Bernard scrapbooks at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

A January 1935 Wisconsin State Journal article reported that nine new Skeeters would be competing with the club, six of which were built by Carl Bernard.  A visit to the State Historical archives to look at the German front-seater plans is needed to fill in the rest of the 4LIYC and Skeeter development history.

The lucky winner of the Skeeter was Jerry Hirsig, an owner of one of Madison’s famous department stores, Wolf Kubly and Hirsig. Hirsig wasn’t an ice boater and purchased the ticket to help the club raise funds. He said he was saving it for his grandson, but there’s no further mention of the boat or grandson in the newspaper archives.

Carl Bernard and the 4LIYC’s focus remained on Stern-Steerers until after WW2 and the Korean War when the Skeeter class became dominant.

 

Regatta Dates 2022

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Click for 4LIYC Meeting Dates

2020-2021

  • November 18
  • December 2
  • Elections, Elect Fleet Captains. Vote on ISA & NIYA Agenda Items
  • December 16
  • December 30
  • January 13 Honor Roll Nominations
  • January 27 Deadline for By-Law or Racing Rules Amendment Submission
  • February 10
  • February 24 Business Meeting
  • March 10

Location: Online using the Zoom App Members please email debwhitehorse@iceboat.org for the link.

Time: 6:30 PM

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Lake Access Permits

A year-round permit required for designated launch sites in the City of Madison and Dane County Parks. Locations include:

    • Lake Mendota Warner Park Mendota County Park
    • Lake Monona Tonyawatha Tr. Olin Park
    • Lake Waubesa Goodland Park

Purchase Lake Access Permit Online.

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