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:
SOUTHERN WISCONSIN SWAP MEET, MADISON, WI:
Sunday, October 27 @ Harken, Pewaukee, WI. Information
4LIYC Meeting :
November 2024
4LIYC Shipstore: Order custom iceboat shirts, hats, and gear. More information.
BURGEE:
 Order your 4LIYC Burgee
Pay Your Dues Online

Chi Mac Update: Tales to Tell & Iceboaters Take Section 1

 

Rick Hennig and crew on DEUCE

Read full report here.
In case you missed it, the Chicago to Mackinac race took place over the weekend. First, the good news: Keith Haas checks in with the news that MEDICINE MAN, owned by Rick Hennig—who also owns the world’s largest iceboat, DEUCE—took top honors in Section One. Keith writes, “Rick Hennig took first place in Section 1 of the Chicago MAC race aboard his boat MEDICINE MAN. The crew consisted of notable iceboaters Rick Hennig, Todd Knop, Abby Knop, Jay Yaeso, Eric Sawyer, and Richard Sawyer.” Congratulations, Rick and crew.

However, as Great Lakes sailors know, Lake Michigan can quickly turn dangerous. A storm hit in the dead of night, which resulted in two serious situations: a dismasting (USUAL SUSPECTS – Ron Sherry & Skip Dieball) and man-overboard (CALLISTO – Steve Orlebeke), Skip and Ron have shared photos and stories on their Facebook pages. Skip shared the following story from USUAL SUSPECTS owner Eric Wynsma:

“Tough night for the Usual Suspects as we were dismasted early this morning about 35 miles offshore during the Chicago Yacht Club Race To Mackinac. Ripping along comfortably at 15 knots with an A2 and a Genoa staysail, a small cell popped up and whacked us with an 80-degree wind shift at 30+ knots, knocking us flat and breaking our mast in 3 places. We worked frantically to cut the rig away so it wouldn’t hole the boat as we jumped around in the waves attached by a million halyards and control lines. Everyone kept their act together, and nobody panicked as we just went into what we knew needed to happen. Very proud of our group.

Nobody was hurt. I had all three of my kids aboard, and it was my 25th Chicago-Mackinac race! While not as good as our 52-class win last year, I am satisfied that we returned 13 suspects to the dock disappointed but unharmed! Thank you all for the support; this truly sucks for all
of us, but we are keeping things in perspective. We consider ourselves fortunate under the circumstances! Sincerest thanks to some amazing sailors on board; the display of teamwork and seamanship in this situation was absolutely outstanding.”

Meanwhile, Steve Orlebeke and crew on CALLISTO had to deal with a man overboard situation that thankfully turned out OK. Phoebe Wall Howard’s excellent reporting about the race stated, “Disaster was averted after Madcap, a Santa Cruz 52 owned and skippered by John Hopkins, responded to a man overboard report from Callisto, a J/125 owned and skippered by Jim Murray. Both boats resumed racing the 333-statute mile (289 nautical mile) race without injury.”

2024 Chicago to Mac – For More Glory

The 115th annual Chicago to Mackinac race is taking place today, and among the competitors are several iceboaters trading the hard water for soft water. While the race’s website makes it challenging to see all boats and crew on one page, we know that ice sailors Steve Orlebeke (DN & A Skeeter), Ron Sherry (DN & Renegade), Skip Dieball (DN & Renegade), Dave Elsmo (DN and A Skeeter), and Ben Witman (DN and C Skeeter) are participating.

Steve Orlebeke is sailing on the J125 CALLISTO, Ron Sherry and Skip Dieball are crewing on the TP52 USUAL SUSPECTS, and Dave Elsmo and Ben Witman are aboard the TP52 LEGACY. All are in the same division and vying for the Mackinac Trophy.

Ron and Steve have a long history of intense competition. Their unforgettable duel at the 2020 DN North American Championship in Montana is one of the greatest battles, beautifully captured in a video by Sean Heavy. As they gear up for the challenges of the Mackinac race, it’s a perfect time to revisit that legendary moment. Watch it here.

Follow the Chicago to Mackinac race here.

 

 

“Wisconsin’s Frozen Legacy”


Here’s an article written for the Wisconsin Maritime Museum’s magazine about the history of ice sailing in Wisconsin and the champions, innovators, and legends who have shaped the sport. Read it here.

The Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc is absolutely worth a visit. A few years ago, they hosted a fantastic exhibit dedicated to the Inland Lakes Yachting Association, featuring scows, trophies, and a wealth of history. Perhaps one day, they might consider creating a similar exhibit for ice sailing.

It’s Fourth of July!

Ice Riders on the Chesapeake Bay by Charles Wysocki

Here’s a collection of various photos that have been previously posted to celebrate the July 4th holiday. It’s a perfect opportunity to remember that two of the founders, Ben Franklin and John Adams, were acquainted with ice sailing. Ben even ordered a set of plans!  But one ride in the Netherlands was quite enough for John Adams. He wrote to a friend, that iceboating “as again endangered my Health and my Life.” Enjoy the holiday – it’s getting darker earlier every day.
When Ben Franklin Ordered Iceboat Plans
Ben Franklin’s Iceboat Drawings

Photo: Gretchen Dorian

JD’s EAGLE, Class A Skeeter. Photo: Gretchen Dorian

Shown here from left to right doing their best to make the ordinary extraordinary are: Don Ermer, Don Sanford, Steve Arnold, Lady Liberty, Ty Reed and Ken Kreider. Ty Reed and Ken Krieder.

Patriotic Pete Johns

Iceboat Swap Meet – Save the Date


Save the Date!

It’s the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club’s turn to host the Southern Wisconsin Iceboat Swap Meet, and the Nite Class has an event worth celebrating. The 4LIYC and the Nite Class invite you to kick off the season in October with an iceboating doubleheader extravaganza, the Southern Wisconsin Iceboat Swap Meet and a celebration of 50 years of the Nite National Championships. Our good friends at Harken in Pewaukee will host both events during the October 26 – 27 weekend. Stay tuned for more developments.

What to Know:
50 Years of Nite National Championships
Date: Saturday, October 26, 2024
Time: 4 pm – 8 pm
Round table discussion followed by a social hour
Location: Harken Inc.
N15W24983 Bluemound Rd.
Pewaukee, WI
More information niteracing.org

Southern Wisconsin Iceboat Swap Meet
Buy, Sell, and Learn About Ice Sailing
Date: Sunday, October 27
Time: 9 am – Noon
Location: Harken Inc. Parking Lot
N15W24983 Bluemound Rd.
Pewaukee, WI
More information iceboat.org

The Unpredictable Adventures at the Current Champions Fast Iceboat Shop

If you drop in on the Current Champions Fast Iceboat Shop, best to be prepared for anything, as Menekaunee Iceboat Club member Mike Derusha discovered yesterday.

Ken Whitehorse shares, “It was a momentous day at the Current Champions Iceboat shop. Our Renegade Champ Mike lent a hand with repairs on the DN Western Region ATV and equipment trailer, then loaded up 100 feet of Sitka Spruce, and finally, joined forces with Skeeter Champ Ken to construct a wigwam.”

Speaking of wigwams, I’m going to take the opportunity to plug what’s been keeping me from posting here as much as I’d like —helping to organize the first Harry Whitehorse International Wood Sculpture Festival, which will take place June 14 – 22 at San Damiano on Lake Monona. During the week-long festival, twelve artists from around the world will create wooden sculptures. Ken and Mike began constructing an educational longhouse frame that will serve as an exhibit space for Ho-Chunk cultural demonstrators and a wooden canoe. Hope to see you there!

If you’d like to visit or volunteer, more information is available at this link.

 

Andy’s Visit to the WI State Historical Society


WSSA Secretary Andy Gratton recently explored the extensive history of iceboating preserved in the William Bernard scrapbooks at the Wisconsin Historical Society. These late 1800s and early 1900s scrapbooks provide insight into the world of ice sailing and are a go-to source for those interested in its history. Among the treasures that caught Andy’s eye was a photo featuring a Studebaker motor-propelled sleigh showcased at an exhibition around 1913. Even in the early days of ice sailing, William Bernard and other ice sailors were already on the lookout for race committee vehicles.

[UPDATE – edited to reflect it was Mike Kroll’s stern-steerer, not Mike Peters] I perused the scrapbooks with three young friends, time went quickly and we learned a bunch, but I still haven’t figured out for certain if Mike Kroll’s boat is the Princess 3 or not. I have been in communication with Peter Fauerbach about this, too. I will need to go back and study two books in more detail.

I did come across this very interesting photo in William Bernard’s “1913” scrapbook. It may be the first “Skeeter” on the ice. There was no article with the photo of the vehicle. It appears to be a Studebaker car with chains on the driving wheels and some sort of runners at the front and rear, possibly with wheels under the covers. I’m not sure whether the vehicle is one long frame or a trailer attached with more bench seats. It looks like the choice seats are at the very rear as that is where the extra windshield is positioned. I hope the heater works well.
Andy Gratton

Iowa East Coast Stern Steerer


As the ice sailing season takes a break, it’s time to explore more of our history. Recently, a piece of history found its way into my U.S. mailbox: a vintage photo of a stern-steerer on the Mississippi River at McGregor, Iowa, circa early 1900s. It’s the first photo of ice yachts south of Pepin, WI, and Lake City, MN, I’ve ever seen. Iowa’s ice sailing and stern steerers bring to mind the Davis family, located a bit further inland from the Mississippi River.

A quick search of newspaper archives yielded no information about ice sailing at McGregor so that it might have been an individual’s activity. The back of the photo indicates that it was associated with the Hollingsworth family. I’m sure that the stern-steerer sailors will be able to spot some details by closely examining the photo.

UPDATE: Stern-steerer sailor Mike Peters writes in, “The iceboat in Macgregor probably is sailing on the backwaters of the Mississippi.
Looks like a side railer or wishbone. Interesting it has a crack jumper or strut forward of the steer runner.”

75 Years of News & Views – Now Online!


ISA NEWS & VIEWS ARCHIVE

Steve Schalk, Secretary/Treasurer of Northwest and ISA, has dedicated countless hours to preserving 75 years of essential iceboating history from the International Skeeter Association newsletter, News and Views. In the past few days, I’ve uploaded the PDFs to iceboat.org, making the complete archive easily accessible on the website. It’s a privilege to share this invaluable resource with everyone. Visit the ISA News & Views archives here.

Welcome to the News and Views Archive. This collection has been digitized in searchable pdf format directly from the official document collections of the International Skeeter Association and the Northwestern Ice Yachting Association.

 

In the 1950’s and earlier, the two Associations published documents such as meeting minutes and race results separately. Beginning in the 1960’s, the publication “ISA News and Views” was used to gather and publish news, meeting information, race results, member lists, local club news, and a for sale section.

 

The collection is organized by Iceboat racing season, which stretches from fall of one year through spring of the following year. The order of seasons starts with the most recent and goes back to 1948-49 season.

 

The content gives an insight into developments in iceboating over the last 75 years, with the voices and images of many of the most prominent competitors, designers and builders appearing in these pages.

 

I hope you enjoy your journey back in time using these archives.
LINK TO ARCHIVES

 

Steve Schalk
Secretary/Treasurer
Northwestern Ice Yachting Association
INTERNATIONAL SKEETER ASSOCIATION

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Click for 4LIYC Meeting Dates

2023-2024

  • November 8 Zoom
  • November 22 Elections
  • December 6
  • December 20
  • January 3 Honor Roll Nominations
  • January 17 Deadline for By-Law or Racing Rules Amendment Submission
  • January 31 – in person, no Zoom
  • February 15 Business Meeting – Zoom only
  • March 6 – in person, no Zoom. Last meeting of the season.

Location: In person at Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club or Online using the Zoom App Members please email debwhitehorse@iceboat.org for the link.

Time: 6:30 PM

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