The 1995 X senior championship regatta. From left: X-100 Lauren von Bereghy, Pine; V-42, John Spytek, Pewaukee; M-2, Kate Wattson, Minnetonka; and M-40 Katrina Oppen, Minnetonka.
One of the ILYA's greatest success stories is the ILYA CUB, or Class X boat. Designed for junior sailors, the class has flourished from the beginning. Today, about 130 X boats compete in the Annual Championship Regatta. This is the story of the earliest ILYA Championship regattas.
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 first ILYA Cub championship regatta was held August 7-9, 1940. Among the entrants were Jack Stritt and Buddy Wallen of Lake Delavan, Valerie and Billy Grunow of Lake Geneva, and Tommy Norris of Oconomowoc. Although two boats made the trip from Lake Minnetonka, it was a southern-Wisconsin affair. The first ILYA Cub-boat champion was Bold Venture, sailed by Tommy Norris, who parlayed two firsts, a second, a fourth, and a fifth into a runaway win. The runner-up was Buddy Wallen, who sailed a 2-2-4-4-6 series.
The following year, the regatta was held on Lake Calhoun, in the heart of residential Minneapolis. The fleet reflected the change in geography, with only five Wisconsin boats filling out the field of thirty-one. Wallen would go on to win the 1941 regatta; Norris had graduated out of the Cub class, replaced by his brother, Coleman.
The last regatta before the war was held on Lake Mendota and featured a repeat win by Wallen. But another up-and-coming Delavan sailor by the name of Buddy Melges was pushing Wallen for the first four races. Going into the last race, Wallen and Cracker Jack had two firsts and two seconds, while Melges—sailing Moby Dick—had a first, a second, and two fourths. Wallen was already uncatchable in horserace, with Melges second, and Wallen led in points 114 to 109. Only a Melges win and a sixth place finish (or worse) by Wallen would force a tie. As the race unfolded, the point became moot. Melges recalls that he was "winning by a country mile" when he hit a buoy and sailed home. Wallen won the race, and the regatta.
Though the next three regattas would be lost to World War II, initially the conflict did little to dampen enthusiasm for the Cub-boat fleets. In 1942, for example, Minnetonka registered fifty-three Cubs. Most other lakes had more modest fleets: Pewaukee's had grown to thirteen, White Bear had sixteen, and Pine Lake registered fewer than ten. Despite the hardships of the war, the youngsters carried the spirit of the ILYA to greater heights.
One solution to gas rationing, for instance, was found for the Cubs. When two nearby lakes would want to have a small regatta, host clubs would provide all the boats, and the young skippers and crews would be loaded onto buses and taken to the regatta site. Such a regatta was held in 1945 when Oconomowoc's Cub fleet sailed against Pine Lake. All the boats were local Pine Lake craft, and Coleman Norris won the three-race event over Pine's Beachy Brumder and Barbara Gallun. In Minnesota, White Bear Lake hosted Lake Minnetonka in a ten-boat team match in mid-August, while Lake Calhoun raced with Lakes Harriet and Minnetonka.
By 1945, activity in all the fleets suffered the effects of the war, and by war's end the Cub boats often represented the most active fleets at the local clubs. The twenty-five Cubs on White Bear Lake represented the largest Cub fleet in the club's history. On Minnetonka, the sixteen Cubs outnumbered any other fleet.
On some lakes, young sailors achieved remarkable dominance over the competition. At Neenah-Nodaway, John R. "Bob" Kimberly Jr. scored 323 out of a possible 360 over the summer. Now sailing on Lake Geneva, a maturing Buddy Melges and Moby Dick won every trophy possible, winning every race except those he missed while attending—and winning—the Milwaukee Journal Regatta. Fritz Mueller won the Cedar Lake Cub championship, a feat matched on other home lakes by Helen Hildebrandt of Pewaukee, Barbara Gallun of Pine, and John and Jerry Frautschi of Lake Mendota.
After the war, the Cub fleet resumed its remarkable growth. The first postwar regatta, in 1946, was held at Delavan and boasted a fleet of about seventy-five boats. One of the competitors was young William Freytag, sailing Buddy Melges's old Cub boat, a 1942 Palmer. The boat had an inboard rudder shaped and mounted like the old C-boat rudders. It had several other features that were quite modern by today's standards, including a rotating mast and a loose-footed jib. This odd sail, which was the first loose-footed jib, says Freytag, was colored blue and was very fast. And, as with most design innovations that prove to be faster than the competition, it was suspect. Freytag remembers that during the regatta "somebody outlawed it, although there was no rule against it." So that night, Buddy Melges sewed a jibboom on it, and, Freytag says, "It never went again."
Freytag's welcome to the Cub championship wasn't as positive as one might expect, but it pales in comparison to the experience of one Pine Lake crew. Freytag recalls the incident from that 1946 championship: "One of the Gallun girls—it must have been Barbie—was getting very good, and she had an old wooden Johnson and won a race, and the next day she went very slow. After the race, she found that somebody had nailed tin cans—eight or ten tin cans—to the bottom of her boat."
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
- 14-15 ILYA MC Invitational - Nagawicka
- 14-15 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