The America's Cup
of Ice Yachting
The Ice Yacht Challenge Challenge Pennant (IYCP) was conceived in 1881 by Commodore Irving Grinnell of the New Hamburgh Ice Yacht Club to determine supremacy among the grand ice yachts of New York's Hudson River. The famous pennant was raced for fifteen times with the most notable winner being Icicle, owned by John A. Roosevelt, who was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's uncle. 1922 was the last year the Hudson River stern steerers competed for the IYCP because they lost access to the ice when their race course became a shipping lane kept open by the Coast Guard.
Rise of the Skeeter Class
In 1950, the remaining members of the New Hamburgh Ice Yacht Club voted to transfer the deed of gift and trusteeship of the IYCP to the Eastern Ice Yachting Association (EIYA) and the rules were modernized to reflect the reality of ice yacht development. The Skeeter Class, bow-steering single pilot boats developed in the 1930s, were faster, easier to transport and set up, and more popular than the heavy stern steerers. Under the leadership of EIYA Secretary Ray Ruge, in the following year of 1951, 10 ice yacht clubs entered 17 boats and raced for the pennant on Greenwood Lake in New Jersey. Fox Lake Ice Yacht Club's, Ed Rollberg sailing his Mead Skeeter, Black Magic , became the first Skeeter skipper to win the revived IYCP. 1951 also marked the first time the IYCP traveled west of the Hudson River to the Midwest.
Still the Fastest Ice Yachts
Since Ed Rollberg's first IYCP victory, Midwest & Eastern ice yacht clubs have sent their fastest Skeeters and challenged for the pennant 18 times. Unfortunately because of a variety of reasons including lack of time and ice conditions, it's been 24 years since the last IYCP was sailed. Now is time to honor the historic origins of the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America and race again for ice yachting's most prestigious trophy. The Pewaukee Ice Yacht Club of Pewaukee, Wisconsin currently holds the IYCP. Bill Dale and Peter Harken won the pennant on Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin in 1991.