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.

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?

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.

Iceboat Classes

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

The Rules.

The purpose of iceboat racing rules is to prevent collisions.

Ice Yacht Clubs

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

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.

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.

UPCOMING:
4LIYC Racing in the 21/22 Season
March 2022: The Hard Water Summit, Ft. Peck, Montana More information

BURGEE: Order your 4LIYC Burgee

Ice Sailors On The Hook

SHAZAM crew: Erik Sawyer, Andy Gratton, George Gerhardt,4LIYC Commodore Don Anderson, Jay Yaeso, Mike Waldo, Rich Sawyer, and Tony Abts, 

Previous: Tales To Tell, the 2020 Hook Race
2021 Hook Race Results
Jay Yaeso assembled another crew of ice sailors for the July 24th, 2021 Hook Race, a challenging 189 nautical mile race on Lake Michigan from Racine, Wisconsin, to Menominee, Michigan. (Thankfully, their rig stayed up this year.) Between them, I count about ten stern-steerers, 5 Renegades, an A-Class Skeeter, and some vintage Skeeters. Other ice sailors who competed include Fred Stritt in HASTEN and Rick Hennig in THUNDERSTRUCK. Rick broke his time record from last year, completing the race in 20:20:46.

SHAZAM

SAVE THE DATE: Return of the 4LIYC Picnic – Honoring Greg Whitehorse

Greg Whitehorse sailing his Renegade BLADE RUNNER on Lake Monona

Let’s kick off the 21-22 ice sailing season in a big way. Please save the date for a special Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club picnic where we will celebrate Greg Whitehorse’s induction into the Honor Roll and our return to club social events. If that isn’t enough, the Packers play at San Francisco that evening, making it a quasi-tailgate event. More details to follow!

What: 4LIYC Picnic & Greg Whitehorse Honor Roll Induction
When: Sunday, September 26, 2021
Time: 4 PM
Where: Burrows Park, Maple Bluff, WI

1913 Northwest Regatta Photos


Northwest Regatta Page

Marcy Grunert recently sent a couple of vintage images that I had never seen from the first Northwest regatta, shot by photographer Arthur M. Conant of Menominee, MI. Arthur Conant most likely shot these pictures using a Kodak Folding Brownie 3a, which created a 3.25 x 5.5 inch postcard image.  (The first Northwest was sailed on Lake Michigan at Menominee in 1913. The Northwest was a competition to decide boat supremacy among the ice yacht clubs of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. Stern-Steerers ruled the ice back then before the bow-steering boats prevailed in the 1930s. Stern-Steerers and bow-steering boats still compete for the trophies of the Northwest.)

Marcy’s photos brought back memories of the late Bill Korsgard, a Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club member and postcard collector. Around 2000, Bill acquired a group of Arthur Conant 1913 Northwest postcards on eBay. The postcards offered a fascinating glimpse into the regatta through the eyes of a young Menominee man named Finn, who had written detailed explanations about the boats to a friend in Chicago. I have posted a few of these in years past, but Marcy’s photos motivated me to post the entire collection along with Finn’s notes.
Click on the red icons to reveal Finn’s notes.

SIRIUS

SIRIUS
“No need of telling you what boat this is. I don’t know what’s the matter with her this year. She can’t do a thing. I think it’s because Ed., working at the shoe factory now, can’t get out and give her his attention. Quimby ran it in the races. Parker pulled a corker off on Quimby at the minstrel. He told Harmon, who was interlockter (?) that an awful accident happened at the race that afternoon. Harmon asked him about it and he said they had to get out a searching party. Harmon asked him what for and he said to go out and find Jimmy Quimby.”

FLYAWAY

“Of course you don’t know this boat, but I’ll bet you’ll guess. This will answer your questions about the guys. It sure helped. She don’t raise anything like she did last year. The plank is a lot better now too, having some give. The trestle supporting the martingale broke and you can see how I wired it together.”

TROPHIES

“All the different cups. Menominee, Menekaunee, and N.I.Y.A. The big one in the center is the world championship cup SQUARE PEOPLE put up and won.”

PRINCESS II

PRINCESS II, a Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club boat built by William Bernard for Emil Fauerbach
“There is a brace on the spar on this boat take notice. Hello Lewis, this is the best I could get of the Madison boat but Bob is trying to get some better ones and if he does he will send you some. Notice where they have the runner plank on.”

RED BIRD

REDBIRD
“Redbird Oshkosh. She took the Association Class B Cup. The boat has solid wrought iron runners about 1/4 inch thick. They were just the thing for the snow we have and have yet.”

FLYAWAY

“Note the nose and [?] also the double set of pulleys. They didn’t work very good forward like that, so I moved the lower ones back to the pencil dot [?] but I haven’t been out since to see how they worked. The name I got on her is FLYAWAY. I could think of nothing better but just as soon as I do, I’m going to change it.”

COLD WAVE

“The COLD WAVE came in first in Class B the first of the three days but was beat out by the RED BIRD on Friday and didn’t finish Saturday. It was thought she would have won out if it hadn’t snowed.”

SQUARE PEOPLE

SQUARE PEOPLE, designed and built in New Jersey by Dr. Stanborough for the Petersons of Menominee, MI. SQUARE PEOPLE was the name of their furniture company.
Finn’s note on the postcard conflicts with newspaper accounts that mention the boat was made in NJ along with the Menominee boat AURORA.
“Menominee types. Strictly Menominee designed and Menominee made. This is the boat that is all the noise this year. She goes through snow and everything. The way that PRINCESS II beat her Friday is as follows: Along by the crack the ice was almost clear, the wind having blown the snow way over the crack. Peterson wasn’t wise to this but Fauerbach was. I guess the guy on the YELLOW KID must have told him. It was one tack against the wind and he had to run almost straight into the wind to make it but he made it all right and beat Petie out on that race.”

3 CLASS A

“PRINCESS, YELLOW KID, & SQUARE PEOPLE. Three boats in center with sails up.”

A CLASS START

“Note the plank on the PRINCESS II just above the word wind.”

MERCURY

MERCURY
“She’s a lot like the SIRIUS. The Sunday that they were here there was a hell of a big wind blowing, but the Oshkosh boats wouldn’t race as it was against the rules of their club. They went out though and run around the course a couple of times and it looked as though she was putting it over Peterson [SQUARE PEOPLE] but I couldn’t tell for sure. She went some though. She’s coming back when the PRINCESS comes when the ice is good and is going to race for the big World Champs Cup.”

STORM KING

“STORM KING CLASS A: Oshkosh type. Backbone extends about a yard beyond lower boom. Heavy frame.”

PRINCESS

PRINCESS [Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club boat, Madison, WI. Built by William Bernard for Emil Fauerbach.]
“Madison-style boat built as light as possible, with as little iron, steel and wire on as possible. Runner plank set far back and spar leaning back as far as possible. She’s some boat. Looks as though she might be a light wind boat, but she beat out Peterson [SQUARE PEOPLE] on the stormiest day. On the first day, she bumped into the Egg, I mean Lotha Smith Jr. and smashed her backbone right in two. Next day they got her fixed up just in time for the race with as pretty a backbone as she had when she came. Note how her spar, as well as the YELLOW KID [Class B boat built by Wm. Bernard] and how far back her plank is. She’s built as light as possible. Only one stay on each side. No guards to the back runner. I’m enclosing a rough sketch to show how she’s built. It’s not a very good picture but it will give you an idea of her.”

YELLOW KID

YELLOW KID, a Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club Class B Stern-Steerer built by William Bernard
“She came in third in Class B each of the 2 days. She’s built like the PRINCESS. She looks as though she might be a pretty good light wind boat. She beat out Prescott and Jennings though in the heavy winds. They came in third and fourth Thursday and Friday. The RED BIRD was the only B Boat that finished as the snow was too hard and deep.”

YELLOW KID

YELLOW KID, a Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club boat built by William Bernard.
“These boats it’s at the center of the backbone and these boats can go in some light wind. Then the [?] 2 x 6 connected from the end of the plank to the backbone and the 2 x 6 from the cockpit to the plank on each side. Although you can’t see them, Bob and I were out skiing with a couple of girls, had a great time. 
Finn”

STORM KING

STORM KING Oshkosh
“She’s built with the cockpit sticking out past the end of the lower boom, as were all the Oshkosh boats. The RED BIRD doesn’t protrude past the back of her sail as much as the others though. They’re heavy weather boats.”

Chicago to Mackinac Race

Ice boating, it’s everywhere!

The ice sailing season moves closer as another box is ticked tomorrow with the 112th Chicago to Mackinac Island race. So far, I can only find one group of ice sailors on the competitor’s list, Rick Hennig and crew on THUNDERSTRUCK. At 60 feet, Rick’s soft water boat is a few inches longer than his winter ride, the world’s largest iceboat DEUCE. Let me know if there are any other ice sailors out there heading to the island tomorrow.

Speaking of Mackinac, here’s a photo that Wisconsin Stern Steerer Association Secretary Andy Gratton shared. It was on display at a business on the island. Andy guesses it dates from the 1880s or earlier “because the masts appear to be on top of the trussed runner planks.”

He also noted that “It looks as if the Grand Hotel is on the left side of the photo, the Fort on the right. I can’t imagine sailing these vessels and having all the sails trimmed correctly, in addition to ensuring the crew stays on the end of the runner plank where he belongs!”

Geneva Lake Skeeters On The Line

Another instance of finding a picture when looking for another one, here’s a big line-up of Skeeters on Geneva Lake at either an ISA or Northwest Regatta, sometimes in the 1980 or 1990s. If this looks familiar, drop me a line.

Jane Pegel To Be Inducted into the Sailing Hall of Fame


The National Sailing Hall of Fame (NSHOF) announced today nine sailors comprising its 11th anniversary class of inductees.
The Class of 2021 includes ice sailor, Jane Pegel of the Skeeter Iceboat Club in Williams Bay, WI. Jane began her ice sailing career in the Skeeter class and eventually switched over to the DN class where she won numerous regatta titles. More to come.
National Sailing Hall of Fame

Jane Pegel has owned a series of ice boats and speedy scows that have all been given colorful names. People notice boats with interesting names especially when the boats are at the front of the fleet. Jane Pegel has been a champion sailor from the Midwest since her earliest days. She has also taught thousands of aspiring young sailors to improve their skills. Her first ice boat was named “Holy Smoke”. Pegel’s C Scow was named “Calamity Jane” and her legendary E Scow was named “Frozen Asset”, a phrase every sailor can appreciate. Pegel started sailing early in life and was the descendant of a line of sailors. Her grandfather, John O. Johnson, started the Johnson Boat Works on White Bear Lake, Minnesota in 1896. He was the original builder of the A Scow, a 38-foot flyer that impressed all the participants racing for the Seawanhaka Cup.
Continue reading Jane’s biography on the National Sailing Hall of Fame website.

Iceboats of Independence Day

JD and his Class A Skeeter on Lake Michigan at Menominee, Michigan in March 2021.

John Dennis’ Class A Skeeter colorful livery has signaled the Fourth of July holiday here for several years. Now, the DN class has its version in the form of Pete John’s latest boat. I’m hoping that next season there will be an opportunity to photograph these boats together. Enjoy the weekend and continue to Think Ice! You have 150 days until December 1 to sharpen those runners.

Pete Johns at the 2021 DN Centrals in Michigan.

TBT: A Beautiful Day in Madison


This photo is another “rabbit hole” find, and hey, it happens to be Throw Back Thursday. I came across this marvelous photo of 4LIYC club members enjoying some spring weather (no gloves!) while searching for something else. It originally appeared in the ISA News and Views in either the late 1950s or early 1960s. The gang is relaxing in PIRATE, my father, Dave Rosten’s, Class A Skeeter.

A Mid Summer’s Nite’s Dream

The Nite fleet from the air on Lake Puckaway, Saturday, December 26, 2020. Photo by Jim Stevenson. Instagram js170b.

We’ve reached Peak Sun today. For those who Think Ice, it’s all uphill from today, the Summer Solstice. The sun will shine 8 seconds less here in Madison tomorrow, on June 22, and continue the march towards the shorter ice-making days. There are only five months before the first weekend in December, the traditional beginning of the Minnesota ice sailing season.

1948 ISA Footage

I can find no newspaper accounts or photos from the 1948 International Skeeter Association regatta, but this 30 second YouTube clip makes up for the lack of pictures. Sailed on Fox Lake in Illinois, Elmer Millenbach won in RENEGADE II, described as a “magic” boat.  The Renegade class competed as  Class A Skeeters in the ISA regatta until 1950 when they first sailed their own championship.
Tip of the Helmet: John Eisenlohr

From “The Renegade Story.”
The non-profit association formed was to not sell plans, but to include them with first years membership dues. The first year, besides scattered memberships all over the sailing area, fleets were building in Toronto, Toledo, and Detroit. At a Detroit regatta, of 42 boats on the starting line, 22 were Renegades. My boat still did most of the winning and in our fleet we tried switching boats in “scrub races”. Whomever sailed my boat won. This seemed to impart some sort of message to some people even though I was handicapped trying to sail someone else’s boat that was set up for someone 6″ sorter than I. Less than subtle suggestions were made that I should build a new boat (according to the plans drawn up) to eliminate any “magic” inherent in Renegade II. This was of course a challenge I couldn’t refuse. I sold Renegade II at the end of the 1949 season.”
Elmer Millenbach

Regatta Dates 2022

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4LIYC Race Results


Click for 4LIYC Meeting Dates

2020-2021

  • November 18
  • December 2
  • Elections, Elect Fleet Captains. Vote on ISA & NIYA Agenda Items
  • December 16
  • December 30
  • January 13 Honor Roll Nominations
  • January 27 Deadline for By-Law or Racing Rules Amendment Submission
  • February 10
  • February 24 Business Meeting
  • March 10

Location: Online using the Zoom App Members please email debwhitehorse@iceboat.org for the link.

Time: 6:30 PM

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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
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