David Perrigo leads the fleet to the leeward mark.
For almost three-quarters of its century, the ILYA's Annual Regatta was a full week of sailboat racing, social events, and occasionally, a little sleep. Two of those who immensely enjoyed the social side of ILYA sailing—William "Smiley" Freytag and Walter "Salty" Schwarting—are two of the ILYA's most enduring characters. In Chapter 10, we meet them in their natural habitat.
Dr. Thomas A. Hodgson
is the author and has
Copyright 1997 Thomas A. Hodgson
All Rights reserved.
Excerpts have been reproduced with
permission of the author.
|The fellowship found in the Inland Lake Yachting Association is a remarkable blend of great friendships and spirited competition. It is the hallmark of every regatta and club race in scow sailing. Few sports can boast of world-class competition and world-class fun at the same championship events. While a compendium of the ILYA's greatest sailing stories would fill another book, perhaps three, the following selections from ILYA mythology will serve to transport us through the association's last several decades.
The ILYA Annual Regatta originated as a weeklong format with A boats sailing in the afternoons. When C's and E's were added to the program, they sailed in the morning. When the alternating schedule was introduced in 1929 by ILYA president Otto Schmidt, the morning fleet would sail the next afternoon. The new schedule allowed sailors to begin their social activities early and end them late, if they ended them at all. It also may have been responsible for some of the intensity with which ILYA sailors enjoyed their social events in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s and the fondness with which they remember them.
Smiley Freytag of Lake Geneva remembers one of his first C-boat regattas, the 1952 Annual:
I remember I was only about nineteen at Neenah when we won the ILYA, and Walter Schwarting [of Pewaukee] got fifth. He had that old white Buick coupe. My mother left me in his hands to be taken care of, and Walter at that time was about twenty-five and as goofy as they used to be. I can remember driving home from the Neenah Country Club. I was lying on the back seat on the floor because Walter was going 150 miles per hour down Highway 51. Luckily we never got stopped, but I was sure I was dead that time.
Walter "Salty" Schwarting also was at the center of another legendary ILYA story, this time at Oshkosh around 1962. A group of young C-boaters gathered in a downtown hotel room to create the sort of party that might, perchance, attract a few members of the opposite sex. Armed with optimism provided by a couple of bottles, these young men—some still in their teens—looked forward to an evening of the sort of irresponsible fun and romance so characteristic of youth.
Rather suddenly, however, they were joined by the one man in the ILYA who could sniff out a party from five counties away: Salty Schwarting. Which, of course, was fine with Schwarting, who never met a party he didn't like.
But the youngsters were not quite as pleased. They felt that Schwarting—fifteen years older than the oldest of them—might diminish their chances of finding that magical combination of irresponsible fun and romance.
As they plotted to get Schwarting out of the picture, they saw his red Karmann Ghia convertible parked just outside the hotel. A few quick whispers were passed, and soon a group of the C fleet's strongest had hoisted the Ghia from the street and carried it into the hotel. (Freytag remembers it ending up upside down in the lobby, but the historical record is fuzzy at best.)
Schwarting, by now well immersed in the role of Falstaff, did nothing—until the Oshkosh police department arrived with a wrecker. He jumped into the car and engaged in a furious tug-of-war with the tow truck that ended with the Ghia on the way to an impoundment and Schwarting on his way to the police station under arrest.
Although they immensely enjoyed the little drama unfolding in the hotel entry, the C-boaters who started the prank didn't script that ending. So with guilty consciences all around, they headed to the jail to bail Schwarting out. This successfully accomplished, all that remained was to get him out of the station house alive, as he vented all his rage on the desk sergeant that night in such a torrent of insult and invective that, except for the hushing and hustling of the C-boaters, he might have landed back in the pokey for an extended stay.
Actually, he vented almost all of his rage. About twenty years later, Schwarting was having dinner with a group of sailors that included one of the group of young C-boaters from that night in Oshkosh. The usual stories were told, with the yarn-spinning making its rounds to the red Karmann Ghia. The once young C-boater retold the story, assuming that Schwarting knew who had relocated his convertible: "I figured he had to have known it was us, since we bailed him out."
Schwarting, however, had never put two and two together, and when he realized who was behind the prank, he lit into a direct continuation of tirade begun two decades earlier in the jailhouse. Now presented with a proper object for his anger, he railed at the C-boater and the absent cronies as if it happened yesterday.
Schwarting was at the center of enough hijinks in his sailing career that he was often held accountable even when absent from the scene of the crime. Freytag recalled the story of an Invitational Regatta at Oshkosh:
I sailed E boats with Clayton Gaylord. That was the year we got second and Gordy Bowers managed to win every race. That night at the Pioneer Hotel, Clayton and I poured in two boxes of soap suds into the whirlpool. Foam was everywhere—people were lost in it—and Walter Schwarting got the blame. But we were in the whirlpool, where we lost Clayton for about an hour, and people were all over, watching and laughing and giggling. The soap suds at one time had to be four feet high. But because Wally had always been in trouble, they thought he had done it. And I never told anybody that we did it.
2018 Regattas - send your confirmed dates
- 25- ILYA Board Meeting - White Bear, MN
17-18 - Adv. RC Course - Geneva
- 6 Rules discussion - Harken
- 7 Judges Course - Bruce Martinson - Harken
- 28-29 Basic Race Committee Course - John Strassman
- 5-6 Cedar, IN Icebreaker
- 18 - Bilge Puller South Meeting
- Bilge Puller North Meeting
- 19-20 E Spring Regatta - Lake Geneva YC
- 9-10 Wawasee E Scow Regatta - Wawasee, IN
- 22-24 US Sailing JOs - Okoboji
- 23-24 MC Wisconsin Championship - Pine Lake
- 25 - LBSS Opti - Beulah
- 26-27 - TRAP X - Pine Lake
- 29-July 1 - US Sailing JOs - Lake Forest
- 5-6 Quad Lakes - Beulah
- 9-12 GLSS Dinghyfest
- 13-15 ILYA MC Invitational - Nagawicka
- 13-15 ILYA E Invitational - Geneva
- 16-17 XTreme X Regatta - Oshkosh
- 16-19 Area K Jr. Championships - Sheboygan
- 21-22 ILYA C Invitational - Beulah
- 21-22 WYA X - Cedar
- 23 - ILYA No Tears - Beulah
- 25-28 ILYA X Champs - Pewaukee
- 29-31 ILYA Opti Champs - Pewaukee
- 3-5 WYA C - Okauchee
- 12-19 ILYA Championships - Minnetonka
- 12-15 A/MC Scows
- 15 Bilge Pullers Dinner
- 16-19 E/C Scows
- 21-22 National MCSA Junior Championship -
- 23-26 MC Nationals - Pewaukee Yacht Club
8-9 George Dorn MC - Beulah
22-23 NNN Beulah C Challenge - Beulah
- 29-30 Polar Bear Regatta - Lake Davenport Sailing Club