Iceboat Tech That Never Caught On: Front-Seater Junior Iceboat


Illustration From Mechanix Illustrated, undated, c.1940s

These Mechanix Illustrated plans for a front-seater junior ice yacht never caught on but you can still “make your youngster the envy of every kid on the pond” with a modern Ice Optimist iceboat. The illustration reminds me of the 2008 video of the Stern-Steerer Kid, embedded below the plans.

Hoofers Presents: Coyote: The Mike Plant Story

Bill And Harry Allen Lake Minnetonka Dn Sailing

(Not Mike Plant but needed a Minnetonka photo with famous iceboaters.) Lake Minnetonka iceboat sailors & Olympians Bill & Harry Allen in 2014.

Hoofers Sailing Club is bringing the feature documentary, Coyote: The Mike Plant Story to the Wisconsin Union Theater on August 18th. Mike Plant was born in Minneapolis and began his sailing career on Lake Minnetonka.

An audience favorite at countless film festivals, Hoofer Sailing Club is proud to bring Plant’s story to Madison and celebrate an iconic Midwestern sailor. All proceeds of this event benefit the Hoofer Marina Project.

Date Saturday, August 18th, Doors Open: 6:30 PM, Screening: 7:00 PM
Location Wisconsin Union Theater,. Shannon Hall, Memorial Union
Buy tickets here.


Madison Area Antique & Classic Boat Cruise

Madison Area Antique & Classic Boat Cruise

The 4LIYC and Mendota Yacht Club have been actively promoting wooden boats in Madison since the late 1800s.

Another summer milestone is here, meaning we are nearer to December’s hope for ice.
Glacier Lakes Chapter
The Madison Area Antique & Classic Boat Cruise
August 3rd and August 4th 2018
Stop over to the Edgewater Hotel tomorrow (Friday, August 3) around the noon hour for a look at some of these wooden beauties. Our Commodore Don Anderson will be there with a couple of his classics. Instead of a static boat show on Saturday, the group will cruise around Lakes Waubesa and Monona. 4LIYC Renegader Andy McCormick is one of the program directors for the Glacier Lakes Chapter. More information at the link above.

The photo above from 1914 is posted on the Wisconsin State Historical Society website.
“Elevated view of the Wisconsin State Capitol building, showing steel work of North Wing under construction. Crowds of people are gathered on the lawn for the Fall Festival. More people are gathered on the roof of the Capitol building just below the dome. Two boats are on display in the foreground near a sign that reads: “Mendota Yacht Club ‘Boost Madison Lakes.'” The iceboat on the right is the Princess II and the sailboat on the left is the Neireid. The Neireid was owned by Henry Fauerbach (an uncle of our own Peter Fauerbach) and Lew Porter.” 

Iceboat Tech That Never Caught On

Here’s some content for the doldrums of ice sailing, technology that never caught on. As I’ve stated before, iceboating appeals to dreamers. Some of their ideas became standard equipment but most didn’t.

In the 1930s and 40s, yachting author J. Julius Fanta must have taken a fancy to the idea of a four-runner iceboat and wrote at least two articles about them. In a thoroughly detailed article in Yachting Magazine about a four-runner Skeeter developed on Geneva Lake, he predicted  “the four-runner iceboat is the coming thing in ice yachting and not a fly-by-night experiment.” Four-runner iceboats never became popular because they were not an improvement upon a standard three-runner iceboat. Download the Yachting Magazine article in pdf.

In a 1940 Popular Science article, he presented detailed plans for a four-runner stern steerer.

A four-runner Skeeter was photographed by Carl Bernard at the 1947 Northwest on Lake Winnebago.

Ben Lampert’s 4 Runner Skeeter at the 1947 Northwest Source: Carl Bernard Files

UPDATE: July 30, 2018: Via Skeeter Iceboat Club member, Jane Pegel:

Skeeter Ice Boat Club member Bob Ferris built and raced a 4-runner Skeeter. I believe this was in the 1950’s.

This boat had a springboard at the bow and also at the stern with a runner on the end of each springboard.
My recollection is that the runners at each end were steering runners and could be turned via cables and foot pedals.
The runner plank was located approximately half way between the two ends of the boat.
The runner plank was shorter than customary. When sailing, the bow and stern runners were on the ice
and the runner on the leeward end of the runner plank was on the ice. The runner on the windward end
of the runner plank “floated” slightly above the ice surface.

The idea of the design was to be able to turn “on a dime”. The boat could make a tight turn at the
leeward mark (occasionally spun out.) Bob won some races with the boat but basically the boat was not as fast as her
competition sailing on the “straight away”. Only the Bob Ferris design would turn on a dime. Only three of his runners were touching the ice, what ever runner that was on the windward end of the runner plank was floating above the ice. The 4 runner boats that essentially were a rectangle would not be able to turn on a dime.

Ice Sailors Compete in Mackinac Race

UPDATE: July 25, 2018
Congratulations to the Equation Team for winning the Section 01 / Mackinac Cup Division. Results

Via Ron Sherry’s Facebook page, posted July 23: “Wow Equation first in class First over all so far in the 333 mile Chicago to Mackinac race. One of the toughest races I ever competed in. It blew hard from the north up to 30 Kts. the whole way with Huge waves. We never put up a spinnaker or a jib top or a staysail. It was up wind against the waves the whole way. We had 17 crew that never left the rail. Most of the crew only went below to put dry clothes on or bring snacks up for the rest of the crew. WHAT A SUPER HUMAN EFFORT!!! The big difference was when the call was made to sail right up the middle of the lake on port tack Sunday morning taking the best of what Lake Michigan had to offer WOW. The pounding Equation and the crew took was brutal, but we got a 25 degree left wind shift with lots of leverage and reached across the fleet with a huge lead we would never relinquish. We finished at 4:00 am. this morning, and all the bars were closed, but don’t worry we will get our fair share today.”

Equation Mackinac 2018

Photo; Julie Jankowski


Another sign of the high season of summer approaches, the Race to Mackinac and ice sailors will be on board some of the 350+ boats that will race from Chicago to Mackinac Island on Lake Michigan. The racing begins on July 21. Here’s the annual list and please email to me and let me know if I’ve missed anyone.

  • EQUATION (Section 01)
    Ron Sherry DN US44
    Chris Clark DN US4789
    Tom Dawson DN US5470
    Skip Dieball DNUS5
    Griffin Sherry DN US4
  • DENALI (Turbo Division)
    Rick Hennig DEUCE stern-steerer
    Dave Elsmo DN US5486
    Dave Aguilar DN sailor
    Matt Barron DN sailor
    Nick Hovland DN sailor
    (Section 2), with DNer Chris Berger DN US5166 and Marcy Grunert. BANDIT’S owners Arvid Eiesland and Joe Kestler have DNs, Arrows, and an old Palmer Skeeter. John Poast is also an ice sailor on this boat.
  • SHMOKIN’ JOE Section J111
    Julie Jankowski DN US4271
  • WINDSONG (Section 8) has DNer Andy Camarda on board.
  • MC^2 (Section 01)
    Matthew Kickhafer DN US5602
    Steve Kennedy DN sailor

The “R” Word: Free Iceboat to Restore

You can go from this… this in a few simple steps.

UPDATE: July 17,2018: The boat has found a home on Lake Como. Thanks to all who helped with this rescue.
Skeeter Iceboat Club sailor Steve Schalk recently came across the proverbial barn find near Delavan, Wisconsin that dates back to the beginning of the Skeeter class.This 1930s iceboat was home built and patterned after Walter Beauvaix’s early open-back Skeeter design. Just the hull and plank remain and It’s always been stored in a dry barn waiting for either the woodpile or for someone to restore her. If you’d like to save the boat from the burn pile and take on a restoration project, contact to arrange pick-up. Andy Gratton has offered to donate a sail for the boat.
To learn more about the history of Beau Skeeters, read “A New First“,  about the Goes family’s original Beau Skeeter PIKE, and “Wish You Were Here: Skeeter Iceboat Club History“.

Early Beau Skeeter PIKE, on the left with the P sail.