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:
4LIYC Racing in the 21/22 Season
March 2022: The Hard Water Summit, Ft. Peck, Montana More information

BURGEE: Order your 4LIYC Burgee

Getting Framed


Pat Heppert’s next Class C Skeeter build begins with Acme, where “Quality is our #1 dream.”

The other day I was so inspired by everyone else’s summer iceboat projects that I had to start one of my own. So I went on the internet and ordered up a complete iceboat frame kit from ACME Iceboats Inc. (www.acme-iceboats.com).

When the UPS driver showed up with the big box, excitement quickly turned to disappointment. This doesn’t look anything like what I ordered, so I called customer service to complain. Why are all the frames black, and why did you overcharge my credit card? Customer service said, “This is because your order clearly specified you wanted the INSANITY option” No idea what that means, but it seems like a Dan Clapp reference. When I asked why all the forward frames clearly looked about 10% shorter than the plans, customer service started getting rude and said, “Well, sir, we are fully expecting you to lose some weight before next season.” FAT CHANCE of that happening.

 

Then I inquired why the aft frames didn’t seem to look anything like the plans. The tail end looks like it is going to be about a foot and a half wide and tapering down to almost no height at the plank. Why in the heck would any self-respecting front-loader possibly be this wide? The discussion went South, and customer service ended the call by saying, “If you are having so much trouble absorbing the simple concept of how to build an iceboat, then you are just going to have to order up our brand new mainsheet assembly and see how it all comes together.” I have no idea what this means, so I just pulled out the credit card and obeyed—no idea what is coming in the next shipment.

Pat Heppert

C-Skeeter “Drifter” I-291

Groundhog Day

Coming soon, a new driver in this seat.  Photo: Sean Heavey

Iceboat shops are busy this spring, including Daniel Hearn’s Spaight Street Syndicate. Here’s the latest report.

Is it Groundhog Day, or is this one of those automated Facebook anniversary posts? Well…neither. This is “Weak Moment,” the second C-Skeeter that will come out of the Spaight Street Syndicate. Wisconsin’s C-Skeeter Fleet is doubling in size! A different butt will be seated in the “Original Gangsta/Black Ice” when we’re back in-season.

 

I must clarify that it makes me uncomfortable talking about other guy’s butts, but I’ll reveal that the owner of this one knows how to make all sorts of sailboats go fast. Whether he’s at the helm, or helping one of his customers. I’ll leave it up to him to expose his butt. Just doesn’t seem appropriate for me to encourage such behavior. At least from another dude.

 

Not much will be different with boat #2. Hard to improve on Pat Heppert’s excellent design, though Pat is exploring the next generation. The evolution of “Drifter” will be called “Traveler.” Hint…hint. Maybe he’ll shoot Deb some post content to share what he’s been up to. [Yes, please, Ed.]

 

Weak Moment will be 7% smaller in height and width. That was my original intent with boat #1. In fact, I had completed a full set of bulkheads before getting cold feet hearing stories of claustrophobia. So, I started over. I would have been fine, but I didn’t know any better at the time, so I stuck the work on the shelf. Turns out, it gave me a nice jump start on boat #2.

The ORIGINAL GANGSTER in its original livery.

Cold feet generate a WEAK MOMENT.

Winging It

UPDATE: The incorrect photo (now below) was used in the original post. The post has been edited with the correct photo.

Previous: Introducing WING
Iceboat shop news from Daniel Hearn:

Winging It

 

It’s always good to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. With the C-Skeeter, I buddied up to Pat Heppert, and so far, he’s still taking my calls and responding to my texts and emails. When I got intrigued with fixed wing boats, inspired by Dan Clapp’s W28, I reached out to Wing Wizard, John Eisenlohr, who lives in Montana. I had the pleasure of meeting John and some of the other Montana Ice/Dirt Cowboys on our last trip to Fort Peck. Before I knew it, my W28 wanna-be with DN parts had morphed into a 18 ft. tapered wing and flap, with 30″ removable top sections. Plus, a largely enclosed 13 foot hull, 6 foot springboard, and a 12 foot wide plank. I think they call this phenomenon, “project creep.” What is it with iceboaters, anyway? In the immortal words of Dan Clapp himself, “it’s not like we’re racing!”

 

Here’s a shot of my main wing as it sits now. I’ve just installed the leading edge pieces, but have yet to shape. My hinge boxes are also ready to be installed on the appropriate ribs. After that, I’ve got some additional internal reinforcing to do, and it’s on to skinning. John normally installs the leading edge blocks after the skinning, using ropes with tourniquet-type devices. I decided to mount leading edge blocks first, so I could just use clamps. Guess I’ll find out if this makes the skinning more difficult.

Ice Sailing Rocks

Runner Tracks

From the news of the odd department, NASA researchers have recently declared rocks as ice sailing entities.
Tip of the Helmet George Gerhardt.

What moves the sailing stones of Death Valley?
…the rock movements occurred during a rare combination of conditions in winter. There had to be a shallow layer of water in the dry lake bed and nighttime temperatures cold enough for the formation of a thin layer of ice. On sunny days, melting caused the ice to break into large floating panels that, driven by light winds, pushed against the rocks to move them, leaving tracks on the desert floor. Read more.

Menominee Ice Sailing Photos

3 Class A Skeeters and the historic Stern-Steerer ROSEMARY on Lake Michigan at Menominee, MI.

In case you missed it, Gretchen Dorian has uploaded all of her spectacular Stern Steerer WSSA and Class A Skeeter photos from the Menominee ice sailing rendezvous weekend of March 6-7. Have a look!
Stern-Steerers
Skeeters

Spring Project: MI Stern-Steerer Down From the Rafters

GULL, down from the rafters.

Members of Michigan’s Gull Lake Ice Yacht Club recently gathered to assess a vintage Stern-Steerer iceboat’s condition. They hope to see her sail again and are taking it on as a club project.

She sailed many years and had been idle, we think, since the late ’90s. Our past Commodore Randy Johnson, may his memory be eternal, was the last caretaker of the Stern-Steerer. She did not possess a name. Our Gull Lake Ice Yacht Club named her upon receiving her as the next caretakers in her lineage. It seemed appropriate to name her GULL of Gull Lake. We look forward to letting her soar on home ice once again. We plan to clean and refinish both the hardware and the woodwork. All the parts are there and in solid shape. We will only swap out some steel turnbuckle adjusters that look to have gone beyond their lifetime for safety. I do not have a photo of her sail yet, which is inside our current Commodore’s home for safekeeping. I will post more photos when the weather allows us to unfurl the sail. She sailed, and we don’t know if she ever raced. Some incoming comments seem to say she shared ice in the Toledo area. We have a trailer project started. We plan to bring her to the ice wherever it may show….. maybe Fort Peck?
Peter Sarelis, Gull Lake Ice Yacht Club, Michigan

Sail China

The world’s ice sailing community is growing more extensive, with Chinese sailing clubs discovering the DN. Jinzhou Yachting and Sailing Association and Jinzhou Bay Sailing Club officially joined IDNIYRA Europe this past weekend during their annual Secretary’s meeting. A Ron Sherry-built DN was shipped to China a few years ago, and the Jinzou Sailing Club purchased DN plans to build their boats soon after. According to Google maps, Jinzhou Bay is only a nine-hour drive to Vladivostok, Russia, where DN ice sailing is very popular. It will be interesting to watch the development of organized ice sailing in China. Perhaps they will be curious about what it’s like to sail a Skeeter or Stern-Steerer.

Via IDNIYRA Europe:
…This weekend at our annual National Secretaries’ Meeting we had some very special guests in attendance:
On behalf of the Chinese DN Fleet, Mr. Wang Qiguang chairman of the Jinzhou Yachting and Sailing Association and Jinzhou Bay Sailing Club, Mr. Wu Ming director of the club and Ms. Zhu Di, Chinese-Canadian interpreter was also invited to serve throughout the process.

…As they told us, in the past three years, during the introduction, training and participation in- and hosting of various icesailing competitions, they stumbled across pictures and videos of DN iceboats on the Internet. The appearance, structure, speed and specifications of the DN immediately aroused everyone’s interest. In 2019, they purchased plans from North America and manufactured a few of China’s first iceboats of the class. Last year contact has been established with IDNIYRA – Europe and official talks began on joining the Organisation. We received their application of membership earlier this year.

…We wholeheartedly welcome the Chinese Fleet in our Class Association!
Read more.

Count them, 18 DNs!

The Original PRINCESS

PRINCESS II postcard with her namesake added, actress Margaret Sylvia. Postcard from the William & Carl Bernard Collection. 

The internet tells me that the ancient Greeks get credit for the tradition of boat-naming, a custom that iceboat builders continued. Growing up iceboating, all Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club classes carried names, even DNs. (In present times, the Estonians seem to be the only DN fleet that consistently attaches a name to a boat.)

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Madison’s Fuller opera house hosted the latest touring plays and operas of the day. One actress made such an impression on Emil Fauerbach that he named his grand William Bernard-built ice yachts after her. All three of Fauerbach’s PRINCESS boats owe their name after Margaret Sylvia, who starred in the comic opera Princess Chic.

We don’t know if Ms. Sylvia ever knew the local fame bestowed upon her or that her namesake won several prestigious regatta titles, including the Hearst. Who knows, maybe one of the reasons William Randolph Hearst, who was well known for his admiration of actresses, donated the Hearst trophy was because Ms. Sylvia told him that a Madisonian had named his iceboat in her honor.

“The PRINCESS is named for Margaret Sylvia who stars in the Princess Chic and has played at the Fuller opera house. This is the second Madison ice yacht to be named in honor of an actress, the first one being the MAY BRETTON, owned by the Spooner Brothers.” Wisconsin State Journal, October 30, 1903

Maine Land Sailing Event: May 13-16


Via Chickawaukee Ice Yacht Club’s Bill Bucholz:

NOTICE OF REGATTA

Thursday, May 13- Sunday May 16 at Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, Maine.

Loring AFB is a closed base with two 2mi long runways that are 300’ wide with many taxi ways between the runways as well as several outpost taxi areas that are sailable, including a large pad area suitable for large fleet starts. It is likely the best asphalt land sailing location on the East Coast of the US. Our leasing of the facility for the weekend includes usage of a large hangar that we can store all the boats in with our masts and sails up! There are also restrooms nearby in a separate building.

Free sailing, tuning and touring Thursday, racing Fri-Sat-Sun. Combination of short courses and the 7 mile full base long course. Starts to be dail-up or standing depending on wind. Bring a stop watch. Racing shall be governed by the NIA iceboat racing rules, as well as some that are specific to the BloKarts. Read more

Fast/Not So Fast

Via Natali Burdukovskaya Facebook page.

Not so fast – the Fat Lady is merely warming up. DN sailors in Bratsk, Russia, took advantage of their snowmelt and raced today.
Tip of the Helmet: Natali Burdukovskaya

A few weeks earlier in Russia, a mere 71-hour car drive east in St. Petersburg, the S8 and Monotype XV held their regatta 27-28 March 2021. “11 racers in S8 class and 4 in M-XV took part during the racing days at the end of the season in complicated racing conditions, soft spring ice and weak wind , 4-7 knots with gusts up to 8-12 knots.”
Tip of the Helmet: Andre Ivolgin

Regatta Dates 2022

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4LIYC Race Results


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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