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.

Stay tuned for the 2019-2020 ice sailing season!

Herbert L. Stone Inducted into National Sailing Hall of Fame

“The design, construction, and handling of an ice boat is an art rather than an exact science.” Herbert L. Stone

Yachting Magazine editor Herbert L Stone, editor of the first ice sailing book in the United States, is being inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame. Stone edited the book “Ice Boating” in 1913 and also wrote the forward to “Wings On the Ice” (published in 1938), one of the best books on the subject ever written.

I can find no evidence that Stone ever owned an iceboat but he had a tremendous influence on the sport by helping to popularizing it through articles in Yachting Magazine. Stone played a big part in reviving the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant (IYCP) when he encouraged the IYCP trustees of the New Hamburgh Ice Yacht Club to pass on the trusteeship to the Eastern Ice Yachting Association.
Read Ray Ruge’s 1950 article about the revival of the IYCP published in Yachting World here.

Stone’s forward in “Wings On the Ice”, written 81 years ago, still rings true today.

Perhaps one of the chief charms of ice boating is the fact that the implements with which the sport is played, just as in the case of sailing yachts, have not been reduced to a fixed, static quantity. The design, construction, and handling of an ice boat is an art rather than an exact science. There is still room for the play of new ideas, for the expression of individual talent, for the exercise of skill, knowledge, and ingenuity.
Herbert L. Stone
Excerpt of forward to Winds on The Ice, Frederic M. Gardiner

Other ice sailors who have been inducted into the NSHOF are: Peter Barrett, Bill Bentsen,Jan Gougeon, Meade Gougeon, Olaf Harken, Peter Harken, and Buddy Melges

4LIYC Ice Yacht History: RED ARROW

The recent “Garage Find” post inspired a morning of research on RED ARROW, a Madison-style stern-steerer built by William Bernard in the 1920s.

Peter Fauerbach mentioned that after years of being stored in an Madison apartment building owned by Warren Tetzlaff, RED ARROW was sold in the mid 1990s and shipped to Montana.What happened in between covers some interesting Madison history.

RED ARROW was originally owned by Joe Dean Jr., son of prominent Madison doctor Joseph Dean who founded the Dean Clinic. Joe’s brother, Frank, raced it as well.  The Deans lived next door to the Bernard Boat House on Gorham Street on Lake Mendota.

The boat was named after the 32nd Infantry Division, a World War One Army National Guard Division made up of units from Wisconsin and Michigan. RED ARROW won the C Class at the 1922 Northwest sailed on Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh, WI.

RED ARROW has a slight link to the famous aviator, Charles Lindbergh, who briefly attended the University of Wisconsin in 1921. When Lindbergh visited Madison in 1929, Dr. Joseph Dean Sr. told his son, Frank, that if he could get a ride in Lindbergh’s plane, he would buy him an airplane. Frank was successful and his father bought him that airplane.

More on Charles Lindbergh and Madison Ice Sailing: 
Charles Lindbergh Learned About Speed on Lake Mendota’s Ice
Meade Gougeon’s Essential “Evolution of Modern Sailboat Design”

Photos from the William and Carl Bernard Collection

Weekend Deflection

The Krueger-Whitehorse Skeeter Shop was in full technical mode over the weekend measuring plank deflection and aligning runners.

The Good: Starboard side, 3.4 degrees, not canted.

The Bad: Port side, adjusting to 3.4 degrees, wooden shim is holding plank in position.

Kenny fine adjusting with digital angle finder.

Ken takes a plank measurement.

Plank comparison.

Kenny checking the runner angle on Paul’s plank.

Load test on Paul’s plank. Note the fresh coat of uni-carbon. The plank was load tested and then modified to match the blue plank’s deflection. Paul’s plank now matches identically with the blue plank deflection. 


Garage Find

Ran across this photo on the Historic Madison, WI Photo Group’s Facebook page over the weekend. The photo was part of a collection that a group member found in her dad’s garage. It’s titled “Boat House U.W. Dec. 97” (as in 1897). In it we see a Madison style stern-steerer, designed and built by William Bernard on Lake Mendota near the University of Wisconsin boat house (which was torn down in the 1950s). The Bernard Boat House was just a quick sail down the lake from the university. Back then, university fraternities owned iceboats and iceboats could also be rented by the day from the Bernard Boat House. Below is a photo dated 2 years previous to the UW Boat House photo with an impressive line up of stern-steerers at Bernard’s Boat House.

“Dean’s RED ARROW” looks similar to the stern-steerer in the 1897 photo.

Gougeon’s Golden

Doing what they loved, brothers Jan and Meade Gougeon during a day of ice sailing. 

The moon walk wasn’t the only technological accomplishment in 1969, it was 50 years ago when two brothers in Michigan figured out a better way to build iceboats and developed two-part epoxy. I remember the transition from Weldwood to WEST SYSTEMS epoxy. The excess Weldwood would form hard amber droplets under my dad’s long iceboat building bench. As a kid, they were kind of fun to play with until one day, those little pieces were gone having been replaced by two-part epoxy that didn’t drip. “Gougeon” is used in every class of iceboat build – from the biggest stern-steerers to youth Ice Optimists.
Read more about the 50th anniversary celebration over at the IDNIYRA website.


Nite Sailors Gain 10 Pounds

Via Nite Class Commodore John Hayashi:

190 Is the Old 180

The recent Nite ballot passed. The class welcomes new rules that strictly define our runners, makes our masts and sails more uniform, and cleans up our rules so that they are more in sync with the National Iceboat Authority rules.

Our minimum skipper weight has increased from 180 to 190 lbs for the upcoming 2019-2020 season. The cherry on top of the Sunday is the ability to sail Nite Nationals the first weekend in January. Nothing like gaining three weeks, is there? Thanks to all that were involved and see you on the ice.

Jack Ripp Memorial Service

Jack Ripp Memorial Service Information

Thursday, July 25, 2019
Location: St. Bernard’s Church
2450 Atwood Ave, Madison, WI (see embedded map below)
Visitation: 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM
Funeral Service:  10:30 AM
Luncheon: Following in the gymnasium of the school building. Please share your stories about Jack during the luncheon if you wish.
Burial: 2 PM at Resurrection Cemetery on Speedway Road with full military honors Map

1966 Northwest Regatta: Jack and Bill

Video: ABC’s Wide World of Sports video from the 1966 Northwest Regatta on Geneva Lake
Bill Mattison visited his old friend, Jack Ripp, for the last time. Jack’s son, Jim, was there and shared this poignant moment and the video on his Facebook page:

Jack Ripp wins the Skeeter Class E National Championship on Wide World of Sports with 2 firsts and a second. Dad is M149 and his best buddy Bill Mattison is M134. Buddy Melges comes in 3rd.
Bill sat and held Dad’s hand at hospice on Friday, talked to him and told us all stories of racing and building iceboats as well as stories of him and Dad in Korea. Made Dad smile and chuckle a few times. Both 90 years old, born a few days apart. Lifelong friendship at it’s finest. One of the most touching moments I have ever witnessed. Thank you Bill.”

Skeeter Multi-Tasking

Paul Krueger and Ken Whitehorse have been summer iceboating in the shop, working on their Class A Skeeter programs. Paul send this along:

We had to use the runner straighter jig to flatten Kenny’s stay tubing. It was the heavy wall.

Jack Ripp

Jack Ripp, devoted family man, 60 + year Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club member, iceboat champion, and gentleman, passed on this morning, July 20, 2019 after a short illness. Jack was one of the people who defined this club and we will miss his influence. Though he retired from active sailing several years ago, Jack continued to attend 4LIYC meetings and social events.
I will give you some facts and figures about Jack’s impressive ice sailing record, but they pale in comparison to his character; he was a steady, gentle man, admired and loved by all. Our deepest condolences to his family. If you have some memories of Jack that you would like to share, please contact me and I will post them.
Previous from 2010: “Large Crowd Gathers for Tribute to Jack Ripp at 4LIYC Awards Banquet


International Skeeter Association 1961
Western International Skeeter Association 1981
Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America 1964 1966 1967
International Renegade Ice Yacht Association Regatta Championship 1987 1988 1991 1996
Northwest Ice Yacht Assocation (NIYA)
NIYA Skeeter Titles 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1966
NIYA Free For All 1962
NIYA Renegade Titles 1988 1989 1992 1998
Triple Crown 1967

Regatta Dates 2020


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National Iceboat Authority Web Page

4LIYC Race Results

Click for 4LIYC Meeting Dates


  • November 14
  • November 29 THURSDAY Elections, Elect Fleet Captains. Vote on ISA & NIYA Agenda Items
  • December 12
  • December 27 THURSDAY
  • January 9 Honor Roll Nominations
  • January 23 Deadline for By-Law or Racing Rules Amendment Submission
  • February 6
  • February 20 Business Meeting
  • March 6
  • March 20

Location: Off Broadway Drafthouse 5404 Raywood Road Madison, WI Time: 6:30 PM (Come earlier for dinner)



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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