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!

Mattison’s Madison

The area sailing community turned out in force for Bill Mattison’s induction into the Madison Sports Hall of Fame on June 7, 2017 at the Monona Terrace Convention Center. Jane and Susie Pegel represented Geneva Lake’s Skeeter Iceboat Club, the Harkens, Perrigos, and Carole Miller were there from Pewaukee, and a big contingent from the Green Lake Ice Yacht Club added to the fun of the evening. The above video was produced by the Madison Sports Hall of Fame and was shown as part of Bill’s induction. Don Sanford and Steve Holtzman deserve a lot of credit for their efforts that resulted in this wonderful evening. Thanks to John Hayashi for taking the social photos.

Frank Lloyd Wright & Iceboating

The Charles Bernard Boathouse Stern Steerer iceboat fleet on Lake Mendota. Frank Lloyd Wright’s elementary school is in the background. Though the photo dates from 1895, Wright would have seen the same boats on Lake Mendota back in the 1880s. Photo from the Bernard scrapbook collection.Notation by Carl Bernard.

On the anniversary of the great architect, Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th birthday, the Madison Children’s Museum is hosting a 3 day event that will include an exhibit dedicated to the iceboat models he made as a boy. The exhibit dates are June 7 – 10. Learn more about it at their website.

Wright moved to Madison when he was 12 years old in 1879 and lived near the Bernard Boathouse, the center of ice sailing on Lake Mendota. He attended Lincoln School which was also on Lake Mendota, a few doors east of the Boathouse, where stern steerers gliding across the lake would have been a common sight. What a distraction and inspiration that must have been for the students!

Model iceboats made by William and Carl Bernard.

One of Wright’s biographies mentions that he made model iceboats as a boy. Though none of Wright’s boyhood iceboat models exist, a sophisticated model made by William Bernard (and restored by Bill Mattison) is in the collection of the Wisconsin State Historical Society. Read about that on the WSH website.

I suspect that Wright, along with many boys in the neighborhood, would have spent time at the Bernard Boathouse watching Charles and William build boats. It would have been an exciting place for a boy with an inclination to become an architect.


The roof of the Unitarian Meeting House.

We know from a recording of Carl Bernard in the Wisconsin State Historical Society archives that when he was in Madison, Wright continued to drop in on the “boys at the Boathouse”. It could have been at the Boathouse where learned of master carpenter and iceboat builder, Frank Tetzlaff, famous for his part in building the MARY B stern steerer. In the early 1950s, Wright’s complicated roof design for Madison’s Unitarian Meeting House was proving difficult to build. It was Frank Tetzlaff who  “helped translate” Wright’s plans.

Frank Lloyd Wright, much like the aviator Charles Lindbergh during his brief stay here, was drawn to the sport of iceboating and the people in Madison who were obsessed with building and sailing them.


Foiled Again

MONITOR flying across Lake Mendota in 1955

Because we are on the eve of another America’s Cup yachting competition, it is time to look back to 2013 and review two posts about foils, one of the big reasons that AC boats have such tremendous speed.

Odd but true, foiling boats were tested on our own Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin. Three of our club members, Skeeter skipper Bill Mattison, Renegader Jack Ripp, and Renegader Paul MacMillan  remember seeing an experimental boat with foils on Lake Mendota in the 1950s. I was able to track down an article about it. In 1947, the firm engineering staff of the Baker Company in Evansville, WI had done some research on hydrofoils and tested the boat out on Lake Mendota. Read the article from Madison’s Capital Times dated November 26, 1959.



Now, for the rest of the story.
Nite skipper Don Sanford was kind enough to share with us an excerpt from his now published book, On Fourth Lake, the Social History of Lake Mendota.
Flying Boats?

PDF version

c. 2013 Donald P. Sanford
” This year’s America’s Cup was the first time most armchair sailors had seen a sailboat go faster than the wind. But for a handful Madison iceboaters including Bill Mattison and Jack Ripp it was deja-vu. They’d seen it all before–one day in August, 1955 when the Monitor flew across Lake Mendota.

In the mid-1930s, Gordon Baker raced E Scows with the Mendota Yacht Club in Madison. Gordon was a great sailor because he really knew something about wind power. That’s because the family business, Baker Manufacturing in Evansville, WI, was one of the country’s foremost manufacturers of windmills. Gordon began experimenting with hydrofoils in the 1940s and launched his first prototype hydrofoil, a sailboat, in 1950 at the University Boathouse on Lake Mendota. Based on its success, Baker Manufacturing soon introduced a hydrofoil kit for powerboats in 1953. Once installed, a 14-foot boat with a 10-horsepower motor could reach speeds of 35 miles per hour.

With some funding from the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research, Baker continued to perfect the designs on his hydrofoil next sailboat, the Monitor. On August 25, 1955, Baker and his colleague Robert Johnston climbed aboard Monitor and headed for the open water of Lake Mendota off Picnic Point. As the boat’s speed increased, Monitor’s hull lifted onto a set of three ladder-shaped hydrofoils. With her high-aspect sails, Monitor literally flew across Lake Mendota at 25 knots (28.7 mph), setting a new speed record for a sailboat of any kind. Footage of the event was shown on ABC-TV’s John Daly and the News and photos of the boat were featured in Sports Illustrated and Life magazines later that year. A year later, Monitor set another record on Mendota, reaching 30.4 knots (35 mph), or twice the speed of the wind.

One of these boats sold at an auction in May of 2012 in Wilmar, MN.

iceboat.org Graduates to WordPress

I’m 18 and I like it.

If iceboat.org was a kid, it would be graduating from high school this spring and heading off to college in the fall (on a sailing scholarship,of course). This website went online 18 years ago in November 1999 and has had over 2 million page views. Thank you for all those looks!

Much like the technology of our sport, I try to keep this website moving forward and the “runners sharpened”. During the past few weeks, I’ve made some long overdue major changes to the website by switching it over to a WordPress platform. The basic design is still the same but here’s how it may affect your browsing experience:

  • Subscribe: Never miss a post! Sign up to receive an email every time I post something. If you are on a laptop, you will find the form on the right side bar. Tablet and mobile users will have to scroll down towards the bottom to see the form.
  • Share: Facebook users can now share a post or a page on their Facebook page. There’s a share button at the bottom of each post and page.
  • “Classic” iceboat.org: Don’t worry, it’s still online. The old website can be accessed and there’s a red button on top the right sidebar that links to it.
  • Bookmarks: You may have to update your browser’s bookmarks if  you have any pages here saved as favorites.
  • Broken Links?: Please let me know if you run across any problems so that I can fix them.
  • Missing Your Favorite Page?: Again, please let me know so I can find it and fix it.

Another advantage of the WordPress platform is that I now have the ability to post to this website from my phone. Thanks again to members of the greatest iceboat club in the universe, the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club, for letting me have so much fun with this website.

Ghost on the Horizon

The GoPro camera era has been a boon to ice sailing and has exposed it to a wider audience because the sport expresses well visually. Now here’s something new brought to you by Canada’s SESQUI programming, a GoPro on a radio controlled 4 wheeled vehicle traveling side by side with iceboats. This is part of s …”cinematic journey across Canada… Created and captured with advanced 360° technology and presented in full dome and virtual reality platforms…” The ice sailing part was filmed on Ghost Lake in Alberta Canada. See the trailer for the video here. The iceboat bit starts at 1:08.


On Wednesday evening, June 7, Madison iceboater Bill Mattison will be inducted into the Madison Sports Hall of Fame Club at its annual awards event to be held at Monona Terrace in Madison.

During his 72-year career as an iceboater, Bill has won countless local, national and international championships in what he describes as the most fickle of sports. You’ll also find Bill’s name engraved on Mendota Yacht Club’s trophies for championships won in class C, E and A Scows. It’s safe to say that no one in the history of MYC has won more trophies in more classes than Bill Mattison.
Bill’s skills as a builder earned him a place as head of the shore crew on three America’s Cup challenges: Heart of America in 1986, America3 in 1992 and Mighty Mary in 1995.

Profiled in Madison Magazine, Isthmus, the Wisconsin State Journal, the Capital Times and on Wisconsin Public Television, Bill is a true sportsman who has gone out of his way to advance the sports of iceboating and sailing, helping others both on and off the racecourse. Whether it was for help splicing a broken mast, repairing a boat, building a fast (aren’t they all?) iceboat or making a new shroud, for more than a half-century Madison iceboaters and summer sailors turned to Bill for help and advice. Even though he’s retired from iceboating, sailors still seek him out for his knowledge on everything iceboat. Perhaps that’s why he was recognized as one of the “Three Kings of Iceboating” at Chicago’s Strictly Sail in 2009.

Bill joins Carl Bernard and Peter Barrett as the third sailor in the 54-year history of the Madison Sports Hall of Fame Club to be inducted.

Tickets for the Madison Sports Hall of Fame Club dinner and induction ceremony on June 7 (5:30 pm social; 7 pm dinner) at Monona Terrace are $50. To reserve your seat, please call Peg Mueller at 608-238-5907. Because we are expecting iceboaters and summer sailors from near and far to show up, call for your tickets right away. Be sure to tell Peg that you want to be seated at the Mattison guest tables. With so many sailors in town, there’s bound to be an after-party, too.
Read more on madison.com.

MARY B Recognized by the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation

Carl Bernard accepts congratulations from Mary B at a regatta(Photo added to certificate by Deb)

OT Havey, the man who commissioned MARY B, on screen at the awards ceremony.

In the grand setting of the reading room of the Wisconsin State Historical Society, the MARY B group was awarded for their efforts to return, restore, and maintain Madison’s most winning stern steerer. Special guest at the event was Marianne Hobbins, who was there to honor the iceboat that her father, OT Havey, dreamed about, commissioned Frank Teztlaff to build, and named after her mother, Mary Bernice Havey. Don Sanford accepted the award on behalf of the group with Bill Bauer, Peter Fauerbach, Jerry Simon, and Steve Holztman there as well. Kudos to the Madison Trust for Historical Preservation for having the vision to recognize that a community’s stories are at the heart of historic preservation. This special award along with Bill Mattison’s upcoming induction into the Madison Sports Hall of Fame, reminds Madisonians that ice sailing has always been an important part of what makes this area a special place.

4LIYC Banquet Photos

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The club had another successful banquet last April at Springer’s to close out the season. Thanks to Jori Lenon for the photos and captions!

DN Sailor Selected for Sweden’s America’s Cup Youth Racing Team

Photo: Gretchen Dorian

Sweden’s Eddie Klemets has become the first ice sailor to make inroads in the America’s Cup program. He has been selected for the Artemis Youth Racing Team. Eddie’s most recent DN titles include winning the 2017 DN Junior Worlds and European championship. America’s Cup Youth Racing’s mission is “to provide an unprecedented career path by identifying the world’s top young sailors and helping to prepare them for the challenge of America’s Cup racing.” Racing begins in June. Learn more on the America’s Cup Youth Sailing website.

4LIYC Ice Optimist sailor, Thor Rosten, and Eddie Klemets at the 2017 DN & Ice Optimist Worlds in Poland.

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
    • 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

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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