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Next Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club Meeting, Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Western Challenge DN Fun Regatta December 9-11, more information
2015-2016 Season Archives

Palmer On The Prairie

Iceboats can turn up in the most unlikely places. This vintage Palmer Skeeter has been on display for at least 60 years at Pioneer Village Museum in Minden, Nebraska. The boat was originally owned by the museum's founder, Harold Warp.

The plaque reads "The ice boat is a single passenger ice boat made by the Palmer Boat Company of Fontana, Wisconsin, This was one of the first small single passenger ice boats made, with the steering runner out in front. Prior to this the steering runner was back of the open platform, with the runner plank in front of the rider's platform, that normally carried several people. It has a 20 foot mast, Wamsetta cotton sail with wood battens. It is 18 feet long and the runner plank has a 12 foot span. The ice boat cost $500.00 new in 1935 and the Palmer Company, who specialized in making sail boats, discontinued ice boats in 1938. This Palmer was owned by Harold Warp."
The museum's director says that, "To the best of my knowledge it was never sailed in Nebraska, Mr. Warp did use it on the lakes in Illinois. He donated it to the museum in the 1950's."

Are Your Runners Sharp?

This 8 - 14 day temperature probability outlook from NOAA indicates we are likely to see some ice making weather in North America.
DN sailors who are keeping an eye on the weather in western Minnesota for the Western Challenge fun regatta will like Accuweather's extended forecast for Alexandria, MN as well.

Throw Back Thursday: Ice Quilting

Back in the late 1970s, the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club challenged members to create quilt squares that were then assembled into a quilt and raffled off at the banquet. Marie Whitehorse won the quilt and it is now in possession of her son, Ken. Iceboating is a very creative sport. CORRECTION: There were two quilts made back in those days. Ken Whitehorse has one. Barb and Don Sanford won the second quilt. Photos shown above are of their quilt.

Fun With Carbon Fiber

While we wait for the upcoming cold snap, here's a satisfying video, originally posted on the New England Ice Yacht Club website, about what happens when carbon fiber components interact with a hydraulic press.

Attention Attention Attention: Western Challenge Postponed!

Breaking news in the world of iceboating. Via, home of the Minnesota Ice Sailing Association, the unsanctioned regatta known as the Western Challenge has been postponed until December 9-11, 2016. Warm temperatures blew out the ice on Lake Christina.

However, the ice maker returns next week.

Black Ice Friday: Mad Men Edition

Enjoy this 28 minute slice of life from the 1960s iceboating scene filmed in 8mm by 4LIYC member, Bob Clements. YouTube apparently doesn't allow viewers to tag people like they used to, so I'll continue to add captions when possible. Many appearances by Paul Krueger, Bill Mattison (in his own lawn mowing scene!), Dave Rosten, and Sparky Lundberg. Interesting to see footage from what looks to be a Northwest banquet at the 10 minute mark. Thank you, Bob Clements!

Get Ready for the Siberian Express

It's been an unusually warm fall in North America, but you'd better have your runners sharp and boat ready to sail. Dr. Judah Cohen of the Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) studies how the Siberian snow pack affects the North American winter. Iceboaters will like his forecast and the graphic above: "The model is forecasting colder than normal temperatures for much of the Eastern United States with warmer than normal temperatures for the Western United States.... October Siberian snow cover advanced at an above normal rate during the entire month. This is an indication of an increased probability of a weakened polar vortex or a sudden stratospheric warming and a predominantly negative Arctic Oscillation during the winter, and cold temperatures, especially east of the Mississippi. This is the most recent forecast using the full monthly values for snow cover and sea level pressure anomalies." Those of us who are weather geeks can read his detailed analysis here. Follow Dr. Cohen on Twitter to keep updated.

Christina Arrives

The DN season is revving up. In case you aren't on Facebook, Lake Christina near Alexandria, MN, the site of many DN Western Challenge fun regattas, has frozen over as of early Sunday morning. Weather forecasts are calling for a bit of snow but nothing substantial. The Western Challenge is slated for December 2-4, 2016 and as always, check the Minnesota Ice Sailing website for the latest information.

Photo: Lukasz Zakrzewski Facebook page
The European version of the Western Challenge, the Johnny Köhler All Saints regatta, was sailed in Finland over the weekend. Congratulations to Polish sailor Lukasz Zakrzewski for his win. Results here.

Where It's Winter

While we've "enjoyed" an unusually warm November here in the Midwest, old man winter has made an early appearance on the other side of the world, camping out in northern Europe and Russia. This story came across the Facebook feed this morning about Kai Linde, an ice sailor in Norway. Read it here. Run it through Google translate for the English experience or just enjoy the stunning scenery of ice sailing near Valnesfjord, Norway.

The Grandfathers

Back in the Netherlands, where this all began, DN Nederland has designed a new website. See it here. You likely won't understand the written language, but you will understand the language of ice sailing.


Pat Heppert sends along more iceboating ephemera, this time from the 1990 Hammacher-Schlemmer Christmas catalog. Hammacher-Schlemmer is a high-end gift catalog for that person that has everything, "offering the best, the only, and the unexpected for 168 years." Does anyone know who the builder was that contracted to build DNs with HS? Let us know!
Of course I searched their website to learn if they were selling new Skeeter front seaters. Didn't find any of those, but take a look at this, The Buffalo Icecycle.

Here's video of the Buffalo Icecycle in action where it appears that perfectly zambonied ice is a requirement for a decent ride.

Dry Land Skeeter Training

Mark Isabell and Jim Gluek set up their Skeeters for some secret testing today in an undisclosed location near Pewaukee. Mark says they are "getting ready for the REAL season to begin."

Better Iceboating Through Chemistry?

A video about shoe technology has been getting some attention on Facebook. "Arctic Grip sole technology that grips slick wet ice, as well as thermochromatic lugs, which sense when the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and change color in cold conditions. One of the greatest attributes of Vibram’s Arctic Grip is its durability and ability to maintain performance despite miles of wear." Read more about it on Vibram's website. The technology looks promising. From a race committee perspective, boots that grip the ice would be a big improvement over mountain climbing ice spikes that scratch and rip up the ATV seats and are a general pain to deal with. Saucony is offering the technology in a running shoe (pictured above). Would be interesting to find out how well the shoes would perform for iceboat racers.


More outstanding footage from the folks at Waterlust filmed during their visit to Lake Baikal in Siberia last April. If anyone ever asks you how iceboat racing works, show them this minute and half video. Bookmark it on your phone!

North American Ice Optimist Championship: Jan 20-22, 2017 - Western Region

The 2017 North American Ice Optimist Championship Notice of Race has been posted. Please go over to the the Ice Optimist page for more information.

Twin Spin Thursday: Hardware - Harken's Innovations

Pat Heppert shared two vintage catalogs that his father had saved from the Milwaukee firms of Joys Brothers and Kuemmerlein Marine.
Joys Brother Catalog
Kuemmerlein Marine Catalog
Both catalogs feature iceboats and their components, including metal blocks which were prone to jamming, which was particularly not desirable in iceboat sailing. (During a late 1950s regatta, a Skeeter, sailed by Chris Smith of Chris Craft fame, collided with my dad's Skeeter because Chris Smith's sheet rope jammed in the blocks.)
A few years after these catalogs were published, Peter Harken innovated the use of plastic ball bearings in hardware. Read more about that history on the Harken website, "Necessity is the Mother of Invention".
Sailboat Hardware Before 1967: An Exercise in Friction Jammed blocks, kicked travelers, and grease to lubricate the steel ball bearings. Before 1967, that was sailing hardware—agricultural, heavy, hard to use, and a pain to maintain.
Sailboat Hardware After 1967: An Era of Innovation Like many good ideas, Peter Harken's decision to use plastic instead of steel ball bearings in his boat hardware was born of necessity. Little did he realize his invention would change the face of sailing."

THUNDERJET in Thunderbay

Mike Madge up in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada and a friend are restoring a Skeeter that migrated north from Pewaukee and has some serious history behind it. THUNDERJET was the Mead Skeeter that took legendary iceboater, Bill Perrigo, first over the finish line at many regattas. Greg Whitehorse wrote a stirring story about THUNDERJET and Bill Perrigo in one of the club's Blade Runner newsletters. Read it here.

FIRST! Первый

As seen on the Facebook page of Valentin Titarenko, what looks to be the first runners on the ice of the season! These DNs are set up near the Bratsk Hydroelectric Dam in Russia.

Jim Gluek, Ken Whitehorse, and Bill Mattison in front of Ken's A Class Skeeter. Note Dick Lichtfeld's collector car Delorean in the background.

A Perfect Day: 4LIYC Picnic & Iceboat Show

The fall weather could not have been more perfect for Saturday's iceboat show and 4LIYC picnic. With 11 12! iceboats on display from multiple classes, it well may have been the biggest off-the-ice gathering of iceboats in history. There were so many highlights of the day. First of all, the thanks yous. Thanks to Peter Fauerbach and Dick Lichtfeld for organizing this amazing event in just a few short weeks. Incredible! Thanks to the volunteers who took the time from their busy schedules to bring and set up boats. To Commodore Ken Norton, Vice Commodore Greg Whitehorse, and Renegader George Gerhardt for manning the grill. We went through 70 brats in an hour and a half and had to send out for more! Thanks to Peter Lundt for bringing the ham, a tradition that the late Jim Payton started over 30 years ago. Thanks to Dick Lichtfeld for cooking up a batch of award winning chili. Thanks to MaryAnn Lichtfeld for ordering the beautiful cake decorated with MISS MADISON. Thanks to Corey Anderson for bringing his tricked out Airstream camper with the big screen so that we could watch the UW Badgers win over Iowa. Other Wisconsin iceboat clubs were well represented. Oshkosh iceboaters were represented by Mike Kroll, Bobby Eckstein, and Marv Luck. (Thanks, Marv, for the copies of the scrapbook.) Other ice yacht club members there were Skeeter Ice Boat Club's Susie Pegel (who reminds us that the SIBC Swap Meet is next Sunday), Green Lake's Joe Norton and Maureen Bohleber, Oshkosh IYC Mike and Janet Peters (thanks for the yellow duckie), Carol Miller and Jim Gluek from Pewaukee IYC, and John Davis from Iowa. The beautiful weather brought out many past champions including Bill and Mauretta Mattison. Facebook is filled with great photos from the day. It's a privilege to be a member of this community of iceboaters.
UPDATE: A camera was found at the picnic. Please email to me and I'll help get it back to you.
ACE OF SPADES Stern Steerer, Mike Peters
BLACK PANTHER Vintage Skeeter, Don Anderson
COLD DRAFT Renegade, Peter Fauerbach
COLD PLAY Renegade, Ken Norton
CRAWFISH Vintage Skeeter, Dick Lichtfeld
DN Class, Peter Fauerbach
MARY B Stern Steerer, Iceboat Foundation
MENACE Stern Steerer, Richard Ela
MISS MADISON Stern Steerer, Richard Lichtfeld
NITE Class, Ken Johnson
ICE OPTIMIST Class, Thor Rosten
WARRIOR Skeeter Class, Ken Whitehorse

Twin Spin Thursday: Rise of the Skeeters

Regatta paperwork for the upcoming season provides this week's inspiration for Twin Spin Thursday, a visual comparison of Skeeter development into the 21st century. Notice of Race dccuments for the International Skeeter Association (ISA) and Northwest Regatta have been posted along with updated Sailing Instructions, Northwest By Laws, and ISA Rules.

More photos from the magazine spread that featured EVA III.

Back Home Again In Indiana

Rick Lemberg and Bob Fanning just picked up their latest acquisition, a classic rear seat A Skeeter, here in Madison today. The Skeeter, built by 4LIYC member Bob Kau and then owned by Gary Whitehorse is on its way to to a good and fast home on Lake Wawasee in Indiana. As they loaded the trailer, the temperature kept dropping - a good sign for the upcoming season.

Ice sailing - what will soon be a common sight. Bill Dale in a C Skeeter on Lake Monona, January 23, 2016. Photo Carrie Pok.

More Bitter

October is the time to take a look at what the weather forecasters predict for iceboating season and it looks to be a good one at least for the midwest. Read more about it on Accuweather and Weatherbell. The only guarantee in iceboating is that there will be sailable ice at sometime, somewhere in North America!

Another addition is Right-of-Way rule 8.a which states: “When yachts sailing ON-THE-WIND on opposite tacks are approaching a MARK, the PORT TACK yacht shall keep clear of the STARBOARD TACK yacht.” Click here to see all 9 animations.

Animated: Start, Darling Mark Course & New Weather Mark ROW Guide

4LIYC DNer Dave Elsmo (who is the Sailing Program Manager and Head Coach of the UW Hoofer Sailing Club) created 9 animations to help illustrate the recent changes made by the National Iceboat Authority. These animations cover properly starting, approaching marks on a darling mark course, finishing a darling mark course, and Right-of-Way rule 8.a. See Dave's informative work here.

National Iceboat Authority: Change Summary to 2015 Racing Rules

Last week, the National Iceboat Authority released a new version of the NIA Constitution & Racing Rules which includes two new race course configurations, the DARLING COURSE and INLINE COURSE which may be used as alternatives to the STANDARD COURSE we’ve been using for many years. (Click here to see last week's post.)Today, NIA board member, Tim McCormick has released a summary which briefly describes the changes which have been made to the NIA 2015 Racing Rules. Click here to read the summary.

National Iceboat Authority: Important Announcement

The National Iceboat Authority is happy to announce the release of a new version of the NIA Constitution & Racing Rules. (Click here to see new version.) This new version includes two new race course configurations called DARLING COURSE and INLINE COURSE which may be used as alternatives to the STANDARD COURSE we’ve been using for many years. This allows race committees to select a course which is most appropriate for their ice sailing event. The new racing rules also contain:

  • Updated definitions and clauses to support the use of the DARLING COURSE or INLINE COURSE.
  • Clarification on yachts which must keep clear while approaching the windward MARK on opposite TACKS.
  • Updated restrictions on propulsion.
  • A new rule which prohibits sailing between the LEEWARD MARK and the starting line immediately after the start.
Please feel free to contact any of the NIA Directors with questions or comments.
UPDATE 11-13-2015:NIA board member, Tim McCormick, has created a summary which briefly describes the changes which have been made to the NIA 2015 Racing Rules. Read his report here.

Previous posts from the 2015-2016 season here.