MYC and the Sailing Community Have Lost a Legend

Written by Susan Stites

Bill Mattison, an MYC stalwart who meant so much to so many sailors, crossed the bar on Monday April 25, 2022. He was 93 years old and just two days shy of 65 years of marriage with Mauretta.

Bill’s sailing experience spanned many decades and included both soft and hard water. He started with MYC in the 1950s, sailing on a C-Boat named Honeybucket. Later he sailed an E-Scow, also named Honeybucket. In the 1980s, Bill teamed with Lon Schoor to campaign Matinee, the A-Scow they owned together. He continued sailing both the A- and E-Scows well into the 1990s.

Bill was not just an outstanding sailor, winning many MYC sailing trophies as well as multiple regattas (on and off of Lake Mendota), he was also exceptionally generous, sharing both his time and his expertise to help others. He served as the MYC Commodore in 1965 and chaired his share of regattas. He was always available to offer encouragement and mentoring to young sailors. Skippers could count on him for help in repairing their boats, whether it was a minor hardware problem or a major boat malfunction.

As our “home-town boy,” Bill has made MYC proud on multiple occasions. He was a legendary ice boat builder and racer, winning numerous national titles, including the coveted William Randolph Hearst Trophy in 1949. He served as the head of the shore crew on three different America’s Cup teams: Buddy Melges’ 1986 Heart of America and his 1992 America3, and again in 1995 on Dawn Riley’s Mighty Mary. Buddy Melges credited Bill as a key factor in improving the performance of his America’s Cup boats. In 2017, Bill was inducted into the Madison Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2020 he was inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame. He is one of only a handful of Wisconsin sailors to have received this honor.

There will be a celebration of Bill’s life on Saturday, May 7, from 2 to 5 p.m. at Gunderson East Funeral Home, 5203 Monona Drive, Madison. Starting at 4 p.m., there will be a Time of Sharing, also at Gunderson. The Mattison family welcomes all members of MYC to come celebrate Bill’s life and to share your stories during the Time of Sharing. To honor Bill, the Mendota Yacht Club has decided to postpone its annual spring banquet to a later date. The MYC Board is encouraging its members to attend Bill’s celebration of life and give him a hearty send-off to the big lake in the sky.

Bill’s obituary will be in Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal. You can also read it on Gunderson’s website at

Bill Mattison Ping

Bill Mattison
August 10, 1928 - April 25, 2022