Carl Fritzner

By Don Sanford

Carl Fritzner passed away on Tuesday, March 1 at the Willows Nursing Home where he has been a resident for the past three years. I first met Carl, I mean really met Carl, (up close and personal) when I became Vice-Commodore of our club in the fall of 1995. Though I knew him as "the guy in the mark set boat" (RC2), I really didn't know much about Carl. What I learned about (and from) Carl during the next two years while I served as Vice Commodore and then Commodore was his passion for sailing and for our Club. In fact, it was Carl who taught me to say, "our Club" not "the club." Carl's sailing career goes back a long time. I know that he raced M-20's in our club and while living up in Bayfield or Ashland did quite a bit of Lake Superior and Great Lakes sailing on big boats.

Carl served as our Club's Assistant Race Officer for at least a decade and probably longer. Prior to every race (and we were racing on Wednesday night, Saturday afternoon and Sunday mornings then) Carl would load a couple of marks and anchors along with his personal set of Race Committee flags and poles into his power boat. If it was Sunday morning, he'd also have a fresh pastry for his ROA. And if it was hot, there'd be a beer or two in that cooler of his. Then he'd set out into the lake ahead of RC1 and look for the breeze.

Carl's regular reports back to Bill Ward in RC1 were exact and often quite entertaining. Once a wind direction was established, he'd return to the starting area and wait until the 10 (or was it the 5) minute gun when he'd roar up the course and set the weather mark. Rain or shine, breezy or drifter, Carl was there. Carl could also be counted on to help out during regattas whether they were on Mendota, Lake Geneva or Okoboji. He served as PRO for some of the first ILYA regattas when the I-20's participated. I remember one memorable I-20 Invite that he PRO'd for us. We ran that regatta from Olin Park on Lake Monona because Burrows was under about 18" of water. That was the only boat ramp in the city that wasn't under water. Whatever lake we were on we could count on Carl to set a great course for us and run a fine race. I'm guessing that there dozens and dozens of other stories about orinvolving Carl floating around the Club. I might even be able to publish them in print as long as I changed the names to protect the reputations of those involved.

Like many others, Carl was a mainstay of our Club. Tuesday, he moved on to that race course in the sky to join so many other sailors who've gone before him. Usually we wish them fair winds but in Carl's case he'd be bored with just "fair winds," I think fair skies and "somewhat shifty" winds would suit him better. After all, we need to keep things interesting for him as he sets the courses for all the sailors who've been waiting for a good PRO.

Godspeed my friend.