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.


Ice is never safe! If you are new to the sport or a seasoned veteran, please review our Sailing Safe page.


January 27, 2021: 4LIYC MEETING ON ZOOM:
More information

BURGEE: Order your 4LIYC Burgee

Regatta Watch: 2021 WSSA Postponed Until Feb 6-7

Andy Gratton and the lovely ROSEMARY on Lake Winnebago  Photo: Gretchen Dorian

Via WSSA Secretary Andy Gratton:

The Wisconsin Stern Steering Association regatta has been postponed to February 6 and 7, 2021. The next update will be Sunday, January 31. Check back here at that time.

Andy Gratton

WSSA Secretary/Treasurer

Bar Karate Podcast with Steve Orlebeke

Well bugger them, these Aussies are thinking about iceboating as they watch the ongoing America’s Cup. They dialed up Steve Orlebeke for a podcast episode about inland sailing and iceboating. “Bar Karate is a new sailing podcast. You might learn nothing, but you will have fun doing it.” Listen here.

No Go on Mendota

Well you have to figure that since Paul and Ken had their boats set up on Lake Mendota, they’d be obligated to give sailing a try. Paul reports that he “got a little ride, and the snow was too sticky to make it around a racecourse.” Ken said, “The snow was only an inch, yet the razor-sharp quarter-inch runners couldn’t cut through it. Paul got a ride with his draft sail. A special Kau- Bossett design. I pushed back to the pits. Thumbs up to the race committee for canceling racing this weekend; they knew more than the skeeters fleet!”

Big Boats on Geneva Part 2

Here’s the last “missing” installment from this series of videos. In this video, you’ll see how to wrangle a stern-steerer through the open water at the shoreline, typical of spring ice sailing.

Many thanks to 4LIYC Nite sailor Don Sanford for taking the time to find the nuggets in old movie footage and editing them into something worth watching.
Previous: Big Boats on Geneva Part 1.
Big Boats on Geneva Part 3


4LIYC Racing Update for Jan 23-24, 2021

There is no 4LIYC racing scheduled for January 23-24, 2021. 4LIYC Commodore Don Anderson and Jeff Russell checked ice on Mendota today and found “unpassable” snow drifts on top of 5-6″ of good, hard ice. The next 4LIYC racing update will be Friday, January 29, 2021, by 5 PM.

That Time On Little Bay de Noc

An example of a lateen rigged stern-steerer with an A-frame style mast.

Wisconsin Stern-Steerer Association Secretary Andy Gratton passed along this story from Steve Maniaci of Michigan about Little Bay de Noc and a stern-steerer with an unusual mast.

That capsizing photo (see “Who Did It Better?“) brings back memories on Little Bay de Noc, back in January of ‘69. My girlfriend and I were in my dad’s four-place stern steerer, going east and west along the leeward south shore of Gladstone’s waterfront with a strong north wind. Things were going well until I went beyond the power plant point and caught the full broadside blast of wind coming unimpeded from Rapid River.


We went up and over in a heartbeat. Thankfully, my girlfriend was wearing an insulated snowmobile suit that cushioned the blow. I was never so thankful for my old motorcycle helmet as that day.


I don’t know what the technical name is for that type of mast. We just called it a wishbone mast. The two parts of the wishbone were anchored to a metal bracket on the cross plank and were quite a ways out towards the runners. They came together with a metal bracket that held a large pulley for the mainsail halyard. The masts leaned forward and were held in place by two metal bars anchored to the nose bracket that also anchored the guy cables to the plank to the nose.


My dad bought it in the mid-’60s from Atley Peterson, an old Swede from Escanaba. Atley and his family built it, and he said they had clocked it at 90 mph back in the ’40s. The solid wood beam that makes up the body that everything attaches to has weakened with age and is no longer safe. The last time I sailed, it was on Little Traverse Bay in the late ’80s.


Iceboating is exciting and exhilarating, but it is so loud. I much prefer sailing my Boston Whaler Harpoon 5.

It’s a Set Up

Ken Whitehorse and Paul Krueger took advantage of the sunny day and set up their Class A Skeeters on the west end of Lake Mendota today, January 21, 2021. The boats stayed close to shore because there’s not quite enough ice thickness for them to sail. Stand by for Friday’s ice report.

Hey Joe

An update from Daniel Hearn’s Spaight Street Syndicate:

Nameless No Longer

According to maritime lore, it’s unlucky to rename a boat. Guess it makes sense, since all boats are women, and it’s generally frowned upon to show interest in another. Particularly by the original. What’s the expression, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?” No doubt penned by some sad sack who found out the hard way.


I’m not really sure what the deal is if the previous owner never named the little hussy. After all, she voluntarily surrendered her virginity without any expectations from the short little man she entertained in her cockpit. As an aside, I’ve always wondered why it’s called a “cockpit”. If you want to speculate, go ahead, but this update will avoid a PARENTAL ADVISORY warning.


The short little man is one of my favorites in the sport. Quick with a smile, a relentless kidder, an amazing craftsman and quite an ice sailor when he was holding a tiller, rather than a bullhorn. These days he spends his time giving back to the sport when he’s not turning gorgeous pieces of wood art or crafting a one-of-a-kind Chris Craft bar for a customer of Norton Boat Works.


I’m honored to own one of his boats now–Nite 595. Of course he built all of the components, and they are beautiful. And innuendo aside, he treated the nameless little lady like a queen. The same way he treats the true love of his life, wife Lauren. I imagine the two have been married for decades, and I know from Joe’s Facebook posts that he still adores her.


So, the next time you see me on the ice, keep your wandering eyes off of “JoJoe.” She’s spoken for and has no interest in entertaining your sorry a$$!

4LIYC Racing Update for Jan 23-24, 2021

4LIYC Commodore Don Anderson and Jeff Russell checked ice on Mendota today. They will recheck Friday morning in the hopes of calling on club racing for the weekend. As reported in the Renegade regatta post, there was 4-5″ of ice covered in 1″ of snow. The snow was never above the runner of the motorized kicksled. The lake holds promise for weekend club racing but the wind forecast is for very light air as of today. We will learn on Friday how today and Thursday’s warm temperatures affected the snow. The next 4LIYC racing update will be Friday, January 22, 2021, by 5 PM.

Regatta Watch: 2021 Renegade Championship Postponed to Jan 29-31

Via Renegade Regatta Chair Don Anderson:

The 2021 Renegade Championship has been postponed until January 29-31. Lake Mendota has 4-5″ of ice with 1″ of snow on top. We are waiting for more ice thickness and are concerned about the possibility that warmer temperatures will cause the snow to become sticky.

Regatta Dates 2021


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4LIYC Race Results

Click for 4LIYC Meeting Dates


  • 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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