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

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

From Ice to Dust – Ivanpah 2024

NALSA RESULTS

Iceboat.org has been covered in dust while visiting the spring training grounds of Ivanpah, Nevada, where ice sailors have traded their runners for wheels. Last week, I spent a few days as a tourist at the North American Land Sailing Championship. It was an opportunity to hang out with 4LIYC Commodore Daniel Hearn, Pat Heppert, SIBC’s Bob Cave, Ken Smith, John Eisenlohr, Bill Dale, brothers Jim and Dave Gluek, and Pete Johns, to name a few. There was a high concentration of ice sailors in the Mini-Skeeter class, developed by John Eisenlohr, several years ago. The sight of Pat Heppert’s green C Skeeter, DRIFTER, on the dirt, created a surreal juxtaposition, as I’m accustomed to seeing it on ice.

Racing highlights included watching competitors cross the finish line, the speed battles between John Eisenlohr and the Gluek brothers, and Daniel Hearn dialing in the Mini-Skeeter he borrowed from Pete Johns. (Why he had to borrow a boat in the first place is a story for Daniel.) The race committee’s longstanding familiarity with each other translated into effortlessly managing races and enjoying the task.

Social events on the playa were unique. I learned about the tradition of mixing margaritas in a repurposed cement mixer (thankfully, I missed the “gritty” years.), ate freshly prepared fish tacos seconds out of the fryer, and enjoyed the chili cook-off.

Competitors remarked that the playa was in the best condition they had seen in many years, comparable to our black ice – smooth and hard with very few humps or cupping.

Later this week, I’ll be back on the playa for another exciting event, the 2024 Blokart World Championship. Competitors from 11 countries include several 4LIYC members, Jim Nordhaus, Geoff Sobering, Brett Husley, Lars Barber, and Brad Wagner.

Recent rains on the playa have left the Blokart regatta organizers in an eerily familiar position, reminiscent of the same uncertainties often faced by ice sailors. The Federal Bureau of Land Management, responsible for overseeing the playa, has enforced gate closures during rainy periods to safeguard the integrity of the dry lake bed. Unlike snow on a lake, the arid conditions of the high desert typically facilitate the rapid evaporation of moisture. With a sunny forecast ahead, regatta organizers are hoping that the playa will soon be accessible once again for the Blokart regatta. Racing is scheduled from Saturday, April 6, through Friday, April 12. You will be able to see Blokart results here.

 

In The News: “Glued Together” – The Gougeon Brothers


There’s a pattern here. Iceboating has been a source of inspiration for sailing technology innovations. The Harken brothers developed improved blocks for iceboats before expanding into the broader sailing market. Similarly, the Gougeon brothers’ groundbreaking epoxy invention was first put to the test on iceboats, revolutionizing construction techniques and paving the way for advancements in boat building across all sailing disciplines. These instances underscore the significant role that iceboating has played in shaping modern sailing technology and design. One of the best articles ever written about the brothers who invented what holds us together. Read it here.
From Soundings:

Glued Together
The Gougeon brothers didn’t invent epoxy, but they were innovative boatbuilders who created the West System of epoxy products and revolutionized coldmolded boatbuilding.
PIM VAN HEMMEN
Michigan was a hotbed for iceboating and the Gougeons were DN iceboaters. The DN iceboat had been designed for the Detroit News in the 1930s and had quickly become the most popular iceboat in the world. The little racers were fast, but also light, and the high loads they operated under made them prone to operational failures. Broken masts and cracked runner planks were not uncommon. In Meade’s eyes, the DNs were a great test bed for epoxy. Continue reading. 

“I Just Wanted Some for My Iceboat” – Sailing Stories: Peter Harken


SAIL Magazine checks in with Peter Harken. Read the article here.
Sailing Stories: Peter Harken
At 86, Peter Harken remains as excited as ever about the company he and his brother, Olaf, founded.
WENDY MITMAN CLARKE SAIL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

And of course, in our smaller one-design type boats, the scows and the iceboats, we needed blocks that reacted very fast. They were light. And so we were always searching for that. I went home with the idea in my head and made some sketches and came back the next day at work and made some blocks. And then I started using them on my own boat. I wasn’t planning to to sell them or make them for anyone, I just wanted some for my iceboat. And they really worked. Continue reading.

Ray Ruge’s WAR BABY

Some of Carl Bernard’s scrapbook photos of his old friend, Ray Ruge.

The Hudson River Maritime Museum highlights the legacy of Ray Ruge, a pioneer in iceboat design and literature during the 1940s and 1950s. The Museum has posted his  article, WAR BABY – A Simplified Version of a Bow Steering Iceboat,  detailing the construction of an iceboat in 1940s Alberta using only available materials. As a premier writer on the subject, Ruge’s insights and innovations continue to inspire ice sailors today. It’s interesting to note that during WW2, Ruge spent time in Madison, sailed with our club, and became great friends with one of our most famous club members, Carl Bernard. See the article here.

From the article: “But,” said he, “no plywood, no dural, no fittings, no this and no that, how in the world can we build a decent ice boat now?” And the question certainly seemed sensible enough. But there was the lake, ready to freeze; there was the sail boat’s rig, ready to use; there were the tools and the shop to work in. So we just decided to start in and see how far we could get. Continue reading.

Video Link: Ray Ruge’s New Skeeter

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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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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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