Welcome to iceboat.org

The Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club is one of the most active iceboat clubs in North America.
We’ve been building and racing iceboats for over 100 years in Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

Get Started Iceboating

Ice Is Never 100% Safe.

Our ice reports are strictly for iceboat racers.
Recreational iceboaters, kite boarders, cross country skiers,
and ice fishermen should not rely on our ice reports.
We have safety equipment. Do you?

Learn AboutSailing Safe

Buy or Sell Your Iceboat

One of the best pages in North America to buy or sell iceboats and their parts. There’s also a complete list of vendors who will supply iceboats, sails, and their components.


Common Questions:

How can I get started?
How fast can they go?
How much do they cost?
Is it safe?


Regatta Watch

Information about the ISA, NIYA, WSSA, Nite, and DN regattas.

Regatta Dates

Iceboat Classes

Learn about Skeeters, DNs, Stern Steerers, Renegades, Nites, and Ice Optimists.

An Explanation of Iceboat Classes

The Rules.

The purpose of iceboat racing rules is to prevent collisions.

The Racing Rules

Ice Yacht Clubs

The best way to learn about iceboating and make life long friendships is to join a local club.

Contact Us To Find a Club in Your Area

Why We Sail.

“If all our ice were glass, slightly wet, and all our air reasonably steady with lifters just where needed, sailing would be perfect. Sometimes we do find this, and it is worth waiting years to have. Meanwhile we must accept the more ordinary ice conditions, ordinary weather and wind, and gracefully accept snow, sometimes for weeks. Our ideal comes from time to time, the Great Maker gives only so much of the very best.”
Charles H. Johnson.

Contact Us

Iceboating for Kids

Ice Optimists were created specifically as a youth trainer, designed to be easily built using commonly available materials, and to keep costs to a minimum.

Learn More

Welcome to iceboat.org, the website of the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Summer is our off season here when we catch up on iceboat history, building, and sharing anything related to the sport. We hope to see you on the ice next December!

ECLIPSE on Monona

ECLIPSE on Lake Monona. Photo: David Travis

Now here’s an eclipse you can look at without damage to your eyes! It’s not hard to tie just about anything into ice sailing. Here’s the Class A Stern Steerer, ECLIPSE, sailed by Eric and Chip Sawyer at the 2004 Northwest on Lake Monona in Madison.


Celebrating 50 Years of Harken

Photo borrowed from Holly Nelson’s Facebook


Class A Skeeter Sighting in Pewaukee
Peter Harken’s Skeeter, the Bill Mattison built HONEYBUCKET XIV, was set up at the plant over the weekend to celebrate Harken’s 50 years in business. Olaf and Peter are long time iceboaters and do much to support the sport.

An Amazing Day for the Mary B in August


MARY B on exhibit at Madison Wooden Boat Show at Christy’s on Lake Waubesa

August 5, 2017 was an amazing day for the Mary B Foundation at the Madison Area Wooden Boat Show on Lake Waubesa yesterday. A crew of the usual suspects, some in flip flops quickly set of the Mary B in the parking lot with not a glove or mitten in sight.

The B looked great on display, the glint of her varnish and reflection from her chrome inspired a wooden boat owner and kindred spirit of keeping living history alive to step forward and pledge to match any monies raised to support the Mary B Foundation during the boat show. This fantastic opportunity inspired someone else to match funds raised during the boat show leveraging this pledge even more.
Well this got the fundraising firm of Frautschi, Holtzman, Whitehorse, and Simon in full remote fundvraising mode. The alert went out on the internet, Facebook, and through the crowd at the show and people responded. After Don Sanford’s historical talk about the ‘B, the helmet was passed through the crowd and people were very generous. The  Lake Waubesa Sailing Club started the ball rolling with a $50 donation and by the end of the day the helmet was full of money and pledges.

Wish You Were Here: Glenn’s Summer Vacation

Where it all began in America, “Ice boating on the Hudson River.”

Today’s installment combines themes from the off-season of 2017, postcards and what ice sailors do on summer vacations. Michigan/Toledo ice sailor Glenn Betzloldt is touring and sailing the northeast with his replica miniature schooner. (Ask to see a photo next time you see him.) Glenn sent photos of a historic Hudson River Stern Steerer built in 1908, STORM KING, on exhibit at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, Vermont.

As far as postcards go, above is the only Hudson River ice yachting postcard in my collection. There surely have to be more of them because the Hudson River is where ice yachting began in America.

Here’s what an internet search revealed about STORM KING. The incomparable historic ice yachting blog  “White Wings and Black Ice”, has posted several pages from a book, Hudson River Ice Yacht Club Member Book 1908, with a fleet roster that included STORM KING, listed as owned by Silas Lane of the Poughkeepsie Ice Yacht Club in New York. Silas Lane’s family, under the name Lane Motor Vehicle Company, manufactured early steam powered cars.

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Our Summer Vacations: Simons Victorious in X Boat Regatta

Congratulations to 4LIYC Ice Optimist sailors Fritz and Meta Simon for their win in the junior division of the Inland Lakes Yachting Association X Boat regatta sailed on Delavan Lake. In a field of 67 boats, that’s an impressive performance. Results here.

Fritz Simon and Dad Greg on Lake Kegonsa last season.

Meta Simon checks her Ice Opti runner on Lake Kegonsa in January 2017.

Wish You Were Here: Skeeter Iceboat Club History

Today’s vintage postcards come from the Geneva Lake area with commentary from Skeeter Iceboat Club member, Jane Pegel. Thank you, Jane, for sharing your memories and providing historical context for these cards.

Chris Goes has confirmed the history of the boat.

The boat with the “P” on the sail is Pike. This is an open-back Walter Beauvais built “Beau” Skeeter that won the Northwest regatta, season 1934-35, with Harry Melges, Sr., as skipper. That regatta was at Gull Lake, MI. and was the first time that the Skeeters had their own division at the Northwest. In subsequent years, the Beau Skeeters had closed backs.

This photo, in front of Lake Lawn resort on Delavan Lake, was taken when the boat was owned by Cuppy Goes. Cuppy also raced a conventional cockpit A division Skeeter and was a Life Member of the Skeeter Ice Boat Club (an honorary status given to members who actively contributed to the Club for a number of years).

Cuppy was also a champion C scow sailor and former Commodore of the Lake Geneva Yacht Club. Cuppy’s oldest son, Chris, now owns Pike and sails it on Delavan Lake when conditions permit. Chris is a current member of the Skeeter Ice Boat Club, as are his three sons, Charlie, Eric, and Nels. Eric Goes sails a Nite. Chris also has a gaff rigged stern steerer to sail on Delavan. They all sail at the Delavan Lake YC in the summer and Eric sails Cuppy’s former C scow, also named Pike. The significance of the name Pike is that it was the nickname of Cuppy’s father. Generations of the Goes family power boats, sail boats, and ice boats have been named Pike. The next generation of Goes sailors is just beginning at the Delavan Lake Sailing School.
I-44 was John Clifford. A number of members of the Clifford family were members of the Club in the thirties and forties. each owning a boat. In Club minutes, I learned that the club was organized in March, 1933, as the Beau Skeeter Iceboat Club of Southern Wisconsin. A couple of years later, and for several meetings, changing the name was a topic discussed, with many motions that did not pass. Finally in December, 1938, the name of the club was changed to Skeeter Ice Boat Club.

Click here to see 3 more postcards.

Of particular interest is I-110, owned by Bill Parks. a former Commodore of the Skeeter IBC. Bill’s boat was a 20 ft. Mead that was modified. Bob Pegel was introduced to iceboating by Bill Parks, and everyone knows the rest of that saga. Gloria Wenzel was crewing for Bill in a Star class regatta in Chicago. This was Buddy Melges’ first Star regatta. That is how Bud and Gloria met, and everyone knows the rest of that saga. Bill Parks passed away a few years ago. He was an Olympic bronze medalist in the 1960 Rome Olympics, sailing in the Star Class. Bill was Commodore of Chicago Yacht Club and chairman of the Governing Committee of the International Star Class Yacht Racing Assn, and held a number of offices of distinction in the United States Yacht Racing Union and US Sailing.

In the photo with Bill Parks, I-7 is Harry Melges, Sr., Mickey Finn. I-51 is Don Krause’s boat. Don lived in Williams Bay and had a succesful excavating business. Don raced successfully and Buddy Melges also won some titles while sailing Don’s boat.

The Calamity Jane was a 20 ft. Mead that was upgraded with springboard, 21 ft, mast, and 17 ft. runner plank. in 1948 my father bought that boat for me from Don Campbell. The name of the boat was Holy Smoke and originally had a 13.5 ft. plank and 19 ft. mast. I was a high school student at the time. While competing in the 1956 ISA in Hamilton, the upgraded hull broke just aft of the springboard. The hull was scraped and the parts sold. The following season (1956-57) I began racing a DN. Sailed my last DN race on March 14, 2014.

These gaff riggers were before Jane’s time but are a reminder of when wealthy Chicagoans like the Wrigleys (of chewing gum fame) had ice yachts on Geneva Lake. A few years ago, a Stern Steerer from the Wrigley estate was purchased and restored by three men who sail her on White Bear Lake in Minnesota. Another old Wrigley Stern Steerer sails on the Hudson River. Read more about that on White Wings and Black Ice,  truly the best website devoted to historic North American ice yachts around.

Wish You Were Here: Heading West for Vintage Iceboat Postcards

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Let’s head west for the next set of vintage iceboat postcards. The most unusual of this series is the card from Middle Des Lacs Lake in Kenmare, North Dakota, 30 miles from the Canadian border as the crow flies. A long and narrow lake, Middle Des Lacs is only .5  mile wide by 2.5 miles long. The wind would have to be just right for a Stern Steerer sail on that lake!

Iowa has a well documented history of ice sailing. Traveling ten hours southeast from Kenmare, our next stop is Spirit Lake, Iowa,  home of the Okoboji Yacht Club. Our Iowan tour continues two hours east of Spirit Lake to  Clear Lake, Iowa home of the Clear Lake Yacht Club.

This postcard trip concludes on Wisconsin’s west coast (or Minnesota and Iowa’s east coast), Lake Pepin.

Wish You Were Here: Vintage Iceboat Postcards from Madison

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A new summer series begins today featuring the original “Short Message Service”, vintage postcards from around the world. Let’s start right here in the Four Lakes area of Madison, Wisconsin with these five postcards.

Bernard’s Fleet recalls the time when the Bernard family kept a rental fleet of Stern Steerers on Lake Mendota. “Princess” World International Racer was a famous Stern Steerer built by William Bernard for Emil Fauerbach (Peter Fauerbach’s great great uncle).

I’ll post more in the coming weeks. If you have any to share, please let me know.


Our Summer Vacations: Chicago to Mackinac Race

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The middle of July signals that we are halfway through the off-season and time for one of the most important soft water races of the summer season, the Chicago Yacht Club’s 109th Race to Mackinac. Follow the race tracking on the website.

Your ice sailing roster this year includes:

  • DENALI (Turbo Division), owned by Rick Hennig of the DEUCE fame. Fellow iceboaters joining him on DENALI are Dave Elsmo, Todd Knop,and Eric Tobias.
  • Via Renee Sherry: IMPORTANT UPDATE: due to technical difficulties, Equation will NOT be participating in the Chicago Mackinac regatta. Ron Sherry will be sailing on DYNAMIS.
    EQUATION (Section 1), with Ron Sherry at the helm, son Griffin Sherry, and fellow Michigan DNer Chris Clark on board.
  • BANDIT (Section 2), with DNer Chris Berger. BANDIT’S owners Arvid Eiesland and Joe Kestler have  DNs, Arrows, and an old Palmer Skeeter.
  • WINDSONG (Section 8) has DNer Andy Camarda on board.
  • CHAYA DOIN (Cruising Division) has DNer Marci Grunert on board.
  • GAUNTLET (Section 5) has DNer Gail McCarthy Turluck on board.

Drop me an email if I missed you and I’ll add you to the list. Good luck and safe sailing to all competitors.

Regatta Dates 2018

Wisconsin Iceboat Hotline

  • DN Western Challenge
  • DN Western Regional
  • DN North Americans
    Jan 21-27, 2018
  • DN Worlds & Europeans
    February 25-March 3, 2018
  • Northwest
  • ISA & Renegade Championship
  • Nite Nationals
  • DN & Ice Opti Junior Worlds
  • February 5-8, 2018
  • Baikal Ice Sailing Week, Siberia


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4LIYC Meeting Dates


    • November 9
    • November 23 Elections
    • December 7 Elect Fleet Captains. Vote on ISA & NIYA Agenda Items
    • December 21
    • January 4 Honor Roll Nominations
    • January 18 Deadline for By-Law or Racing Rules Amendment Submission
    • February 1
    • February 15 Business Meeting
    • March 1
    • March 15

Location: Angelo’s 5801 Monona Drive Monona, WI Time: 6:30 PM alternate Weds. We meet downstairs and all are welcome.



Lake Access Permits

A year-round permit required for designated launch sites in the City of Madison and Dane County Parks. Locations include:

  • Lake Mendota Warner Park Mendota County Park
  • Lake Monona Tonyawatha Tr. Olin Park
  • Lake Waubesa Goodland Park

Purchase Lake Access Permit Online.


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