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!

Christmas in July

The 4LIYC has a new DN sailor in the fleet. Over the weekend, Ron Rosten picked up a Meade Gougeon DN that won the 1997 North Americans from Ron Sherry for son, Thor. On his way back to Wisconsin, Ron also visited with Menekaunee ice sailors Mike Derusha and Ken Kreider. Thor is sporting the latest Menekaunee baseball cap.

Independence Day Iceboat

Photo: Gretchen Dorian

John Dennis’ A class Skeeter in the red, white, and blue livery helps us celebrate July 4th and is a reminder that the summer is at its halfway point.

Mike Derusha provides the fireworks!

What We Do On Our Summer Vacations: Transpac

Renegader Don Anderson and EASY RIDER.

July’s iceboating calendar usually features the ice sailors who are competing in the historic Chicago to Mackinac sail boat race. That post is on the horizon and if you are competing in it, let me know the details so that I can add you to the list.

Don Anderson, a Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club Renegader and also responsible for bringing the MARY B Stern Steerer back to Madison, is competing in the Long Beach to Honolulu ocean race, Transpac. The Transpac ocean race is  “the longest of the two oldest ocean races in the world…. first sailed in 1906.”

Don is a grinder on MR. BILL, an Andrews 68. MR BILL is in Division 2 and will leave Long Beach for Hawaii on Thursday, July 6, 2017. You can track Donny and MR. BILL on the Transpac website.

Way Back Wednesday: Jack & Jerry

Sailing builds long lasting friendships. 4LIYC Renegaders Jack Ripp and Jerry Simon have known each other for over 60 years. Jerry bought his first Skeeter from Jack back in 1957. Jerry’s first Skeeter was the second Skeeter that Jack built. Jerry explains:

[The] picture is me in my first Skeeter I purchased from Jack. It was Jack’s second skeeter as the first had a deck mounted tiller for steering as seen in the picture [from the 1952 Northwest]. Mine only had a steering wheel mounted under the deck. My first modification was to put in foot peddles, which didn’t work very well.

What is interesting is the sail number on my purchased boat was M8, which is the rig on Jack’s first tillered Skeeter photo [from the 1952 Northwest]. The picture of me standing next to my Par-a-dice boat with the sail number
M14 is off of Jack’s third Skeeter. I purchased it later and took off the number 9 from is famous M149 number.
During this time period skeeters changed every year so lots of cheap used gear available.

It’s Apparent

As we watch the America’s Cup in Bermuda,  ice and land sailors instinctively understand the forces that allow the AC boats to reach speeds of over 40 knots because apparent wind is also what makes ice and land yachts sail much faster than a  “traditional” sailboat. This video is the best visual explanation of apparent wind I’ve ever seen.

Artemis Racing Team Manager and tactician Iain Percy explains the concept of apparent wind, and how it allows America’s Cup Class yachts to travel at 3 times the wind speed. In basic terms, speed = more speed. Watch and learn

Iceboater Bill Bentsen Inducted in to NSHOF

Bill Bentsen, Bill Allen, Buddy Melges – Soling gold medalists at Kiel, Germany

UPDATE 7-3-2017: Read about Bill on the National Sailing Hall of Fame’s inductee webpage here.
A big congratulations are in order for Bill Bentsen who sails with the Skeeter Ice Boat Club..  Jane Pegel writes:

I learned this morning (June 19)  that in September Bill Bentsen will be inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame.

  • Bill is a member of the Skeeter Ice Boat Club and the Lake Geneva Yacht Club.
  • Bill is a former Northwest champion in the DN class.
  • Bill served as DN class secretary in the 1960’s.
  • Bill owned and sailed the class A stern steerer, TAKU and subsequently transferred ownership to Erich Schloemer.
  • He won an Olympic gold medal in the Soling class and a bronze medal in the Flying Dutchman class.
    He previously was awarded the Beppie Croce Trophy for his service to what is now called World Sailing. (previously IYRU and ISAF)
  • Bill successfully raced C, E, and A class scows at the Lake Geneva Yacht Club.

Every Picture Tells a Story

From the Herb Krogman collection

This photo was published in the Wisconsin State Journal on January 18, 1952 as part of the Northwest Regatta coverage. The WSJ caption read, “Among the Madison entrants in the regatta is John Bluel in his Class E boat, the ‘Shadow’. The picture shows Bluel about to be pushed by his crewmen, left to right, Vic Hustad, Peter Barrett, Phil Town, and Herb Krogman. Bluel is in the cockpit.”

What makes this picture worth delving into is the presence of Peter Barrett who would go on to win national sailing championships, medal in the Olympics, design sailboats, and achieve a dizzying array of other accomplishments . He was inducted in to the National Sailing Hall of Fame in 2012.

Peter Barrett was well known for “his willingness to share his go-fast secrets with his nearest competitors, even during the Olympic trials,” a trait he had in common with 4LIYC Skeeter sailor, Bill Mattison. In the book she wrote about her father, Lynn Mattison Raley shared a story involving Peter and Bill.

Bill was quick to help or teach a fellow sailor as well. In the early 1960s, his good friend, Peter Barrett, was preparing for his Olympic campaign in the Finn class sailboat. At the Olympics, competitors received a rought-cut wood mast that they had to custom shape for their individual weight. Using skills gained form the years of building iceboat masts, Bill showed Peter how to shape his mast so that it would be just right. Barrett competed in the 1962 games and earned the silver medal in the 1964 games. [In 1968, Peter won Olympic Gold in the Star Class crewing with Lowell North-Deb.]


Steve Orelebeke sails in HONEYBUCKET XIV, the last Skeeter built by Bill Mattison. Steve has won several major regattas sailing HONEYBUCKET XIV.

The Korean War introduced you to the real ‘Honey Bucket Wagons’. You always said, ‘You can never come out spelling like a rose.'”
Lynn Mattison Raley about her father, Bill Mattison.

When Jerry Simon and I were looking through the Krogman scrapbook photos, the subject of Bill Mattison’s Renegades and Skeeters came up. I’ve always wondered if Bill ever had an iceboat with plain old HONEYBUCKET on the side, without a Roman numeral next to the name. (As far as I can ascertain, there has never been a HONEYBUCKET. Jerry Simon agreed that Bill went from SNAPSHOT to HONEYBUCKET II.)
Bill’s daughter, Lynn Mattison Raley, explains the lineage best in a wonderful book she put together about her dad.

“Bill was now really hooked on iceboats and started building his first one-design iceboat, a Renegade. Unfortunately, during the winter of 1949, a fire swept through his family’s home. Damage was confined to the basement, destroying Bill’s new iceboat. Undaunted, he built another. Two years later, SNAPSHOT, named in honor of the family business, Star Photo Service, was on the ice ready for her first race. That boat also met with an unfortunate end. While waiting for his first race to begin, the [stern-steerer] FRITZ came around the leeward mark of the racecourse, spinning out of control right into Bill’s new boat, turning the beautiful SNAPSHOT into a pile of firewood. Then came the Korean War and service with the army. Iceboating would have to wait for Uncle Sam.

After the war, Bill finished his third Renegade. SNAPSHOT’S first race was on Lake Monona. “We had 60 boats on the starting line and I finished that regatta in the top 10,” Bill said. Speed, they say, is a narcotic. You can never get enough. So it was with Bill and iceboats. In 1954, he build his first class E Skeeter, HONEYBUCKET. The rest, as they say, is history. His boats set the standard for the evolution of the Skeeter class. He continually refined and improved his designs, eventually producing 14 HONEYBUCKETS before he retired from the sport in 2008.”

1952 Northwest: Plank Riders

Plank riders providing ballast old school style on the MARY B at the 1952 Northwest regatta on Lake Monona. Photo from Herb Krogman collection.

A Surprise in the Mail: Part 4

Here’s a sight you won’t see these days at a regatta, guys riding Stern Steerer planks during a race. The MARY B was originally built with a basket big enough for a skipper and jib trimmer. In a big blow, ballast was needed and there was only one spot for extra crew to ride – the plank. Eventually, two more baskets were added to the MARY B so that the crew would have a more comfortable and safer ride. The two guys pictured on the plank helped Carl Bernard sail the MARY B to win the Northwest that year in 1952.

More 1952 Northwest Regatta Photos

Harry Melges at the 1952 Northwest on Lake Monona.

A Surprise in the Mail: Part 3

Renegader Jerry Simon had a look through the scrapbook that I recently received and spent a few enjoyable hours identifying boats and putting the photos in context. We’ve concluded that the scrapbook did indeed belong to Herb Krogman who sailed Renegades and Skeeters with the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club in the 1950s. There are quite a few pictures from the 1952 Northwest which was sailed on Lake Monona. History records that Bill “Curley” Perrigo won the Skeeter title that year in THUNDERJET. The 1950s were a time of rapid technological development in the Skeeter class and a transition from Skeeter to what would become the Renegade class.

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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