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:
BURGEE: Order your 4LIYC Burgee
4LIYC Meeting: November 2022

Iceboat Virtual Hall of Fame: John Buckstaff 1888-1960

Carl Bernard, Camp Van Dyke, John Buckstaff, and Andy Flom sitting on the DEBUTANTE on Lake Winnebago in 1934. John Buckstaff is holding the Stuart Cup.

John Buckstaff Archives
If iceboating had a hall of fame, Lake Winnebago sailor, John Buckstaff would undoubtedly be among the first to be nominated. Buckstaff’s Oshkosh roots go back to his grandfather, who was born in 1799 and came from New Brunswick, Canada, to Oshkosh in 1850 and started a sawmill.

An early mention of Buckstaff in the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern newspaper was in 1903, when he was 14 years old and recognized as a skilled scow sailor. “His first experience was gained, when as a boy in knickerbockers, he constructed an iceboat and sailed it on the frozen surface of Lake Winnebago. Here he learned to be quick and certain with the tiller and to handle the sail and tack.”

Buckstaff was in Menominee, Michigan, when the Menominee, Marinette, Wisconsin, and Oshkosh ice yacht clubs formed Northwest Ice Yachting Association in 1913. The morning after a banquet at the Hotel Menominee, where 200 ice yachtsmen gathered for a feast, they organized the Northwest, which they patterned after the Inland Lake Yachting Association, a soft-water scow regatta still going strong today.

In addition to his Northwest victories, Buckstaff won two prestigious stern-steerer titles, the Stuart and Hearst Cups. In 1903, The Kalamazoo Ice Yacht Club in Michigan persuaded F.A. Stuart, maker of Stuart’s Dyspeptic pills, to donate a trophy for ice yachts carrying 850 square feet of sail or less. Later that year, a Kalamazoo club member wired newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, asking Hearst if he would donate a trophy, in his name, for the ice boat race. Hearst complied and deeded a gold-lined silver cup.

Buckstaff was a stern-steerer man and would point BLUE BILL, FLYING DUTCHMAN, DEBUTANTE III to victory on the ice at the Stuart, Hearst, and Northwest regattas. FLYING DUTCHMAN has remained on her home lake of Lake Winnebago with Dave Lallier. DEBUTANTE III is in Menominee with Mike Derusha.

DEBUTANTE III was a Hudson River-style stern-steerer built in the famed Poughkeepsie, New York iceboat shop of Jacob Buckhought. The “DEB” with 600 square feet of sail was considered the most lightweight iceboat in the world per square foot of sail carried. DEB was the first iceboat to use aluminum runners, a much superior material than the cast iron runners traditionally used. The Oshkosh Daily Northwestern reported that the “DEB” held a speed record of 119 miles per hour clocked on Gull Lake in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

John Buckstaff passed away on the morning of Sunday, January 10, 1960, the weekend when the iceboating community gathered on Lake Winnebago for the Northwest, the regatta he had helped to begin. In a movie-like ending, DEBUTANTE III, skippered by E.W. Stroshine, won the Class A championship trophy that same day.

John Buckstaff Obituary

Northwest Class A Stern Steerer
1923 BLUE BILL, J. D. Buckstaff
1926 BLUE BILL, J. D. Buckstaff
1939 BLUE BILL II, John Buckstaff, Owner; Tom Anger, Skipper

Hearst
1932 (December) FLYING DUTCHMAN, OIYC, J. C. Van Dyke, J. D. Buckstaff (skippers)

Stuart
1920 DEBUTANTE III, OIYC, J. D. Buckstaff
1939 DEBUTANTE III, OIYC, J. D. Buckstaff

 

 

Wisconsin State Journal. February 14, 1935. A time when sports columnists followed the stars of ice yachting and rooted for the home team. The 4LIYC’s FRITZ with Carl Bernard at the helm won the Stuart that year. 

 

Sydney Royal Yacht Squadron’s First Iceboat

Previous: Sail Australia in Montana
“I’d Like to Get Into Ice Sailing”
In November 2021, Australian sailor Michael Dunston emailed me about continuing his ice sailing journey, which had begun in the Netherlands.

I’m from Sydney, Australia. I have grown up sailing all my life. I tried ice sailing on a DN for the first and only time last winter opportunistically in the Netherlands, and I loved it. This year I moved with my family to Bozeman, MT, which is where my wife grew up. I would like to find a way to do more ice sailing!

If there was an inexpensive, entry-level ice boat (a DN, or similar), then I would be interested to buy. Naturally, it would also be great to connect with some like-minded folks. Is there a club or a group that sail on Canyon Ferry MT that I could connect with?
Michael Dunstan

Michael is one lucky sailor, having been in the Netherlands 2021, the birthplace of our sport, for their few days of ice sailing, then landing at Canyon Ferry, a place of legendary North American ice.

I forwarded Michael’s email to Canyon Ferry iceboaters Dale Livesey and Dave Gluek, who welcomed him into the community and pushed him off the line.

I wanted to update you on Michael Dunstan, the Australian sailor. He’s an awesome guy and a good addition to our fleet. He purchased Dale Livezey’s DN and is a quick learner. He has been fun to sail with. Mike’s Dad is visiting Mike this week, and we sailed a Nite in big wind the other day. Both of them are accomplished sailors! Thank you for introducing us.
Dave Gluek

Michael’s mother, Judy, wrote an article about their visit to Big Sky & Ice country for their yacht club’s newsletter, the historic Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. In addition to receiving a British empire Royal charter in 1862 and challenging for the America’s Cup in 1962, the RSYS has added Michael’s DN to their Squadron Yacht register in 2022.

Hard Water Sailing by Judy Dunston

Mystic Arrow

Arrow iceboats push off to race at Red Banks, New Jersey. Photo via Dan Clapp.

More information from Mystic Seaport Museum.

May 29, 2022 UPDATE: Long time friend of Prescott Shreeve, Tom Nichols, emailed with some of his memories. See text below.

The exhibition, Story Boats: The Tales They Tell, opens today at Connecticut’s Mystic Seaport Museum. One of the story boats is WHISTLING WIND, an Arrow iceboat owned by Herbert Prescott Shreeve. He was president of Lake Hopatcong Ice Yacht Club in New Jersey.

The Arrow iceboat holds its value (they sell rather quickly on the Buy & Sell page) and remains one of the most popular cruising boats, though east coast ice yacht clubs have racing fleets. The Boston family in Michigan developed the Arrow in their sail loft. Martha Boston Youstra recalls, “The Arrow, as I remember, was 16-feet with a 12-foot runner plank. The first boats were gel-coated by Judd Harrell and later sub-contracted to Custom Flex in Toledo, Ohio. Bill Sarns made the hardware, and we added the finishing touches at the loft. We had a trailer that held ten boats. The molds were sold to someone in Michigan’s thumb area and left to rot. [I’ve heard the molds are now in New Jersey. – Ed.] Originally they sold complete for $350. Some current boats have springboards added, and some now are selling for $5k. I believe Dad wanted a lighter-weight boat as he aged, yet with Lolly in mind. Her boat was called ICE TEA. Howard and his third daughter Sue won the first Arrow Nationals. I raced one time with Bill Mattison at the helm. That was awesome. I can’t remember how we placed. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the exact year, thinking 1964. I do have a couple of photos of our family fleet. Red Bank, N.J., had a large fleet, and Erie, PA, had a small fleet.”

I knew “Press” and his wife Madge very well. They always came together to sail. I don’t think I have ever seen a couple more devoted to each other. Press was active during the “Golden Age” of the Lake Hopatcong Ice Yacht Club. I believe he was one of the original founding members. He sailed a stern steerer for most of his ice boating career. He got into the Arrow when they realized the Stern Steerer was just too much for them handle. The Stern Steerer runners were just too much for Madge to carry.

He bought the arrow in the late 1960’s, I think. He was an excellent sailor on both hard and soft water. One year, the Arrow Nationals came to Lake Hopatcong. I do believe that Press beat Skip Boston in a couple of races. Jack Andreson from Greenwood Lake won the regatta. I think Press might have been third.

Press did not build the Arrow from a kit in his living room but that was the workshop for his ice boat parts. I am sure Madge never complained a bit. Press was a very competent and meticulous craftsman. His equipment was always in first class shape.

Press and Madge were very devoted to ice boating and almost always were on the ice wherever the club was sailing. I those days the club “traveled” together. DNs, Arrows, Yankees, Skeeters all showed up at the same lake. Press and Madge loved the sport and never looked for an excuse not to go sailing. They realized you had to be there when the ice was ready, not necessarily when you were ready.
Tom Nichols

From the exhibition program. Courtesy of Mystic Seaport Museum.

Dutch Iceboat Art School

Dutch engraver Claes Jansz Visscher, 1608

While researching for another article, I reacquainted myself with the iceboating art collection of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Along with being the first to add runners to a boat, the Dutch appear to be the first to document the beauty and grandeur of ice sailing visually. Wikipedia says about those early days, “Dutch painters, especially in the northern provinces, tried to evoke emotions in the spectator by letting the person be a bystander to a scene of profound intimacy.” The paintings and engravings in the collection date from the early 1600s to the late 1800s and can be downloaded from the Rjiksmuseum in higher resolution.

Don Sanford Recognized for Historic Preservation


4LIYC Nite sailor, author of On Fourth Lake, and producer of the MARY B, Madison’s Legendary Iceboat documentary (he’s a busy guy!) Don Sanford was recognized last night by the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation as a “Friend of Preservation.” Congratulations Don and we look forward to your next projects.

Don Sanford at the one block where it’s always busy with spectators and paparazzi.

If Darth Vadar Had a Land Yacht


Speed enthusiasts will have noticed yesterday’s unveiling of a sailing craft built to top Richard Jenkin’s GREENBIRD record set in 2009 at Ivanpah. The fastest names in soft-water sailing are leading the effort, Team New Zealand, winners of the 36th America’s Cup.
For comparison, HORONUKE is 10m high, 14m long, and 7m wide (32′ high,45′ long, 23′ wide), while the world’s largest ice yacht, DEUCE, is 51′ high, 54′- 6″ long, and 36′ wide.

From Rule69 Blog:
If Darth Vader was into land yachting, this would be his chosen vehicle. It’s a truly remarkable feat of boat building and engineering and gives Glenn Ashby every chance of smashing through the magical 126.1mph record set by Britain’s (indeed Lymington’s) Richard Jenkins over a decade ago.

…And crikey, when that weather window does come, it’s going to be full-on to eclipse the mark set. This is one of those records that has stood the test of time. The monumental effort that Jenkins exerted saw him chase the dream for almost a decade with the burning mark of Bob Schumacher’s [one of our own, a DN ice sailor – Ed.] 116mph run that was set in 1999 etched into his ambition.
Read more.

MORE: Team NZ Launch Land Yacht

Season Finale DN Newsletter

Oskar Svensson  of Sweden at the 2022 DN Worlds. Photo by Anna Pataki.

Are you missing ice sailing and dreaming about ice yet? Relive the season by reading the season-ending DN newsletter, Runner Tracks. Ron Sherry breaks down the DN US Nationals race by race. David Frost shares his adventures of the last-minute decision to attend the DN World Championships in Europe. Plus the best photography by Gretchen Dorian and Anna Pataki. Take a look.

RUNNER TRACKS IS AVAILABLE IN THREE DIFFERENT FORMATS:
Flipbook Magazine
Download pdf file (best for tablets)
Download single page pdf (best for phones)

A Life That Dreams Are Made Of

20′ banner made by Tim Stanton.

“He would have hated this.” Billy Mattison reminded the packed room at Gunderson’s Funeral Home about the humble nature of his father, Bill. The memories of Bill shared by those who had preceded Billy were unique and moving. It was a privilege to witness a group of highly accomplished individuals speak in awe of their friend. Here are a few highlights from the people invited by emcee Don Sanford to share their best stories.

Bill organized the building of a new hull for the world’s largest iceboat, Rick Hennig’s DEUCE. Rick recounted that experience with great affection and humor. When Bill saw the semi-truck full of Sitka Spruce roll into the shop parking lot, he turned to Rick and said, “That’s the stuff dreams are made of.”

Bill’s neighbor said that when Bill came over to watch him tinker in his garage, it was “like God himself coming to watch a mere mortal.”

“Yeah, I know a little about that.” America’s Cup veteran, Larry Malik, recalled Bill’s typically understated reply when asked if he could fix a photo processing machine during an AC Australian campaign. Larry shared the famous story of the day Bill took the film of the AC boat to the one-hour photo store, where he learned that the store’s processing machine was on the fritz. Bill fixed the machine and came back with the pictures.

Lon Schoor, Bill’s long-time Mendota Yacht Club A Scow partner, marveled at no matter how complicated the project; Bill was so organized in his thoughts that he didn’t have to write anything down and always made the deadline. He left us laughing with a story about how Bill schemed how they would sell the idea of buying an A Scow to their wives, Donna and Mauretta. Bill told Mauretta that Lon had purchased the boat, while Lon was to tell Donna that it was Bill’s boat.

Dr. Kyle Metzloff, a sailor, ice sailor, and UW Professor of Industrial Metal studies, spoke about Bill’s genius and ability to pick up new and complicated ideas. Having never dealt with computers, he learned to operate a mini CNC mill for creating scale model Mattison Circus parts. At an older age, Bill figured out computers.

Peter Harken shared his amazement at Bill and Paul Krueger’s work ethic. They never wasted a minute, not even in the bathroom where Peter assumed “they had a drill press installed.” Peter acknowledged those who traveled from afar, including New Jersey Skeeter sailor Dan Clapp and America’s Cup alumni from San Diego.

Sailing legend Buddy Melges came to the podium, fixing his steely blue eyes on Mauretta and the family for a full minute, not saying a word, holding the audience in his hand while he made us wait. Buddy spoke about their America’s Cup days and how remarkable it was for a guy who came from the Scow world; Bill could make a 12-meter sail faster. “He did not sail on it, but he made it faster when he worked on it.” (Later, I heard stories in the bar about how at least one of Bill’s modifications caused a stir with some AC engineers, but they calmed down when the boat speed increased.)

“He would have hated this.” Billy Mattison reminded the packed room about the humble nature of his father, Bill. The last to speak at Bill’s Celebration of Life, Billy had to follow some esteemed acts, giants of the sailing world, who had shared stories from the podium of the man’s genius. Billy’s poignant closing remarks emphasized the private family side of Bill and his devotion to his wife of 65 years, Mauretta, their children, Lynn and Billy, and their grandchildren.

“I think it is time for a dipper.”

On our way to Gundersons, Don Anderson and I delivered cakes to the Breakwater for the post-memorial reception sponsored by the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club and Mendota Yacht Club. The manager surprised us with the news that Mauretta had called with instructions that she would be picking up the bar tab. On Monday, unsure of the damage, the two yacht clubs offered to pitch in with the bill. Mauretta said no, adamant that Bill would have insisted on it. Thanks, Bill.
Debra Rosten Whitehorse

PREVIOUSLY
Home of the Volleyball(?) Champs
Nothing Fickler
Bill’s Circus Life
The Icing On The Lake”
“Fast Forward Since Birth”
“The Hard-Water Gang” with Bill Mattison at the 2001 ISA
Shooting the Breeze with Bill Mattison
Bill Mattison Inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame
Iceboaters Fingerprints
Willy St. Iceboat Shop Archives

Book Club: Fauerbach Brewing Company

“PRINCESS III in action” in front of Fauerbach Brewery on Lake Monona.

For over a hundred years, the Fauerbach family have been Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club members and officers. The epicenter of Madison iceboating ran across the isthmus from the Bernard Boat Shop on Lake Mendota to the Fauerbach Brewery on Lake Monona. Until the brewery was closed, 4LIYC members gathered in the brewery’s elaborately carved bar for a “cold dipper” to talk smart and conduct club business. Peter Fauerbach has written a book about his family, the brewery, the social history of Madison, and the Fauerbach’s iceboats. Peter’s book is a must-have for iceboating, beer, and Madison history fans.
Buy your copy online here.

4LIYC -Home of the (Volleyball?) Champions

Bill Mattison and Ken Whitehorse at a 4LIYC trophy banquet. Don Ermer in the background.

PREVIOUSLY
Bill’s Circus Life
The Icing On The Lake”
“Fast Forward Since Birth”
“The Hard-Water Gang” with Bill Mattison at the 2001 ISA
Shooting the Breeze with Bill Mattison
Bill Mattison Inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame
Iceboaters Fingerprints
Willy St. Iceboat Shop Archives

Here are two stories from Ken Whitehorse and Greg Whitehorse about Bill.

Did you know the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club had a volleyball team? The late Bill McCormick sponsored the team. Bill was a terrific ball player! (Me, not so much.) And yes, Bill Mattison was a fantastic spiker! He could pound the cover off the ball! We played in the city power volleyball league against younger teams, including university club teams. We were city champions in 1978.

After a match, while having a few dippers, we talked about how cold it was. “It was makin’ ice.” Bill Mattison recalled how bitter cold it was in the trenches while fighting as a soldier in the Korean War. It was deathly cold. Bill McCormick served on a combat ship off the Korean shore during those winters. Bill McCormick said, “You know I always felt guilty and sorry for all those soldiers in that bitter cold, day after day. Bill paused ….. He said he was grateful for the warmth of the ship.

Mattison brought the conversation back to iceboating. He told us that on his return trip from the war, he drew up the plans for Honey Bucket #1. They were full-size plans, and he laid them all out on the beck of the ship! I learned a lot from those two men. We weren’t just playing volleyball. Fair Winds All. Until we meet again in the bye and bye..
Ken Whitehorse

Greg Whitehorse shared this on the 4LIYC Facebook page.

I remember stopping at the Willy St shop one winter day. Bill asked me why I wasn’t on the lake sailing the previous weekend. (I sailed in the Skeeter fleet back then.) I told him that I had broken my runner plank the week before. He said, “Bring it in. Let’s get it fixed”. I told him it was beyond repair. His next words were, “get some wood off that stack there (Sitka Spruce), and we’ll start on a new one. By the third day, it was edged, planed, glued, and shaped. Bill did the vast majority of the work. He even put a coat of epoxy on it. I brought it back to my garage, hung the hardware on it, and was on the ice the next weekend. I’m sure Bill had other things to do that week, but getting another boat on the line took precedence. What a guy!
Greg Whitehorse

Regatta Dates 2022

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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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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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