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.


  • UPDATE: March 17: The 4LIYC has suspended plans for our spring banquet at this time.

NEW: Order your 4LIYC Burgee.

“My Road to Nite National Champ” by Chad Rechcygl

“When you’re bored and you have iceboating on your mind, you build crazy trimming contraptions in your basement. Lo and behold, Tom Sweitzer sends me a picture of the one he had already made except it was on his porch overlooking the British Virgin Islands! #iceboatLife”

2020 Nite Nats champion Chad Rechcygl explains how he went from “seeing how long he could stay in a hike” to winning the Nite Nationals. He set goals, took to heart what his fellow Nite sailors and mentors told him, tracked his progress, and committed to an off season physical regiment.  Chad’s article is a glimpse into the mindset of serious iceboat racers.

I appreciate those who reached out to me and asked me to write an article on my path to winning the 2020 Nite National Championship. To be able to do this means a lot to me and it is still so surreal. It is nice to look back and see the progression. Over the years I made note of my mistakes and implemented solutions. I watched footage to see where I could improve performance. I also tracked my races using the Ski Tracks App on my phone to study laylines, boat speed and buoy roundings.

To simplify I followed 3 simple rules:
1) Learn Something from Every Race
2) Never Quit a Race
3) Apply new knowledge

Continue reading.

Ben Franklin’s Ice-Boat Drawings

Previous: When Ben Franklin Ordered Iceboat Plans
So yesterday, I sent an email to the Founder’s Online, where I found the letters detailing Benjamin Franklin’s request back in 1767 to have a set of iceboat plans drawn for him by Holland’s “ship builder of the Admiralty.”  Someone from Founder’s Online was very kind to respond this morning and include two scans of the ice yacht plans. The scans are in very poor condition and I did what could in Photoshop to clean them up. I’ll continue to look for better scans but in the meantime, enjoy these! Chasing down Ben’s iceboat blueprints have opened up a rabbit hole into historic ice yacht plans. I’ll post more in the coming days.

For fun, a comparison an old style Dutch iceboat still sailing in 2020 and detail from Ben Franklin’s iceboat plan.

Baikal Day 4 PM Report

To Fun and Friendship!                                                            Photo: Dideric van Riemsdijk

Mike Bloom shares his incredible day at Baikal. For those of you who don’t know, Mike and his good friend, Mark “Doctor” Christensen had promised to make the journey to Baikal together but the Doctor passed on after a long illness at the beginning of this sailing season. Mike kept their promise and remembers his friend at the close of this ice sailing season on Baikal. Good luck getting home.

Yesterday is why you travel to Baikal. When the winds called the Baikal Beast exceeded 17m/s and racing was cancelled I was invited to visit the Stupa on the big island out in the lake. So I put on my spikes for a 7 km walk in winds so strong it could blow us off our feet. Dederic organized the day and we were joined by his wife Alexandra, Chris Berger and Marci and two other Dutch sailors both named Hans.


A Stupa is a religious structure containing the remains of Buddhist monks and is used as a place of meditation.


The shape of the Stupa represents a Buddha, crowned and sitting in meditation posture on a lion throne. But a local guide said the Stupa may represent the five purified elements: land, water, air, fire, and sun.


We honored the Buddhist tradition of circumambulation which is an important ritual of walking three times around the Stupa. As a result, Stupas have a path around them. We also left a small token at the alter. Surrounding the Stupa were many prayer flags. Being there was a moving and spiritual experience.


We then walked back to the ice and walked to the tip of the island to view a famous rock outcropping in the shape of a dragon.


From there we walked around edge of the island to seek shelter as the winds really picked up. We stopped in a beautiful spot with an amazing view of the lake. The rock outcroppings were covered with ice and Dideric and Marci surprisingly produced a bottle of Baikal vodka and glass shot glasses. We all briefly spoke about how fortunate we are to sail in Baikal and to be together with friends from around the world.


Mark Christensen

We drank a toast to Mark (Doctor) Christensen and then a separate toast to fun and friendship.


As we started the 7k/m trek home suddenly a four dirt Buggy’s were heading straight for us. They were incredibly loud and appeared to be having way too much fun. Turns out they were sent by Jörg to find us.


After a couple of high speed 360’s they stopped and offered three of us a ride to see some ice caves, mountain goats and another large spiritual rock shrine. So without hesitation Hans, Hans and I jumped in. After all, what could go wrong traveling at freeway speeds on a sheet of ice in dirt buggy’s driven by a bunch of crazed iceboaters!


Some three hours later we were back on shore for the regatta’s international dinner. Each sailor brought food from their home country.
Jorge brought eel. Hamrak brought salami and herring. Jost brought bread and sausage. Marci made delicious American baked beans. The Swiss brought Cheese and chocolate while I have no idea who brought the rest.


After a very fun dinner the music started, as did the dancing. Young and old joined the festivities and international boundaries were no longer relevant.


Sailing continues today. The ice has gotten slightly better. Not sure about the wind though.


I made the difficult decision to join Berger and Marci and return home today. Air travel out of Irkutsk is getting difficult. European borders are being closed to foreigners. My airline reservations keep getting cancelled. Many others have already left.


My trip to Baikal was everything Ron Sherry, Jörg and Dideric promised it would be. The people, the culture, the geography is indescribable. It was truly a remarkable journey. One I will remember forever.


Think ice.

When Ben Franklin Ordered Iceboat Plans

The Founders and the Founders: An original Dutch style ice yacht on Lake Orsa in Sweden. 

Ice sailing was on the minds of America’s founders! This post was originally going to be about how the 1918 influenza pandemic affected the ice yachting world but during the course of research, I stumbled upon some important history that took place 150 years earlier while browsing the National Archives website . Benjamin Franklin ordered a Dutch ice yacht model* and a set of plans from someone in Holland. (The Dutch are founding fathers of ice sailing.) John Adams even was a passenger in one while in Holland though he didn’t seem too thrilled with it.  Maybe Ben Franklin’s iceboat plans and model are gathering dust in some museum? Below are excerpts from letters to Ben Franklin and from John Adams.

“What if the iron that steers was at the front?”

To Benjamin Franklin from François Willem de Monchy, 9 January 1767
“I have spoken here with a man to make you a model of an Iceboat, but as it must be made in the proportion of an Inche, or perhaps less to a foot it will cost you about 10 Duc., that is between 4 and 5 guineas, and this is the reason why I ask you first if you will give so much for it, if you like it, I’ll take care it shall be made soon, and send it over directly.”

To Benjamin Franklin from François Willem de Monchy, 15 May 1767
Agreeable to your desire I have send you two drawings of an Ice-boat. That without the mast is in the proportion of an Inch to a foot, and that with the mast but the half of that proportion otherwise we could not have brought it within the compass of the paper. You would have had it much sooner, had not the death of my deaer Mother prevented me from fininching my part of the drawing. The model without the mast was done by the ship-builder of the Admiralty, the other by my self under his direction. I shipped it yesterday on board the King George sloop, Capt. Harper, who lives in Queen’s Court St. Katherines and promised to take great care of them.
*Footnote:  Ben Franklin appears to have asked Monchy for scale drawings of an iceboat of the type used on the Dutch canals. Although Monchy here uses both the words “drawing” and “model,” it seems probable that he was using them interchangeably, not that he was sending both pictorial representations on paper and three-dimensional scaled constructions of wood or other material. The scale drawings he did send are reproduced here, though necessarily much reduced from the scale mentioned in the letter.

John Adams to Richard Cranch The Hague April 3. 1784
He wrote about having to go “to Holland in one of the worst Seasons ever known, and I underwent Such severe hardships in Packet Boats, Boors-waggons and Iceboats as again endangered my Health and my Life.”


Baikal Day 4 Update

An Ice Optimist digs in on Lake Baikal. Photo: Igor Bassearab

A few short messages and photos from Mike were waiting in the in-box this morning. Looks like he’s starting the journey back home.
Update: I’m not sure if he’s heading back. Stay tuned for more updates.

Postponed. Gusts to 17m/s. No racing. The Baikal Beast is roaring. Way too much wind.

Baikal Day 3 PM Update

DN sailing on Lake Baikal. Photo: Igor Bassearab

Mike Bloom wrote this tonight. The sailing conditions are tough but are inconsequential compared to the challenges he will be facing trying to get back to his home ice on Minnetonka. Good luck, Mike. We are pulling for you.

Very tiring day. And frustrating.


The course is 60-80% covered with Styrofoam snow drifts. Many drifts are taller than a runner.


Today we saw nuclear winds, massive wind shifts and super light wind, all in the first race. After today’s first race was completed and scored the race committee threw it out. They said conditions were unfair.


We then sat or slept for the next 3 hours waiting for the wind to reappear.


Racing resumed about 4:30 pm. The race was completed and score. Polish sailor Marek Stefaniuk P107 won the race. The race was like riding a hobby horse. Between the puffs and the sticky drifts the boats were very jumpy. Tons and tons of sheeting in and out. Never could get into a groove.


We sailed a third race that was not without drama. We started about 5:15. First lap had nice steady breeze. Second lap it started to die. Second time down wind saw lots of the leaders out of their boats. Between the light air and big big drifts jibing was impossible. Third lap was very light upwind and down. Again, most everyone was out of boat at some point. Many sailors retired. As I got to finish the scorers we’re waking away. I was told race was abandoned. They said the leader didn’t make time limit. But tonight results were magically posted… with mistakes.


We sailed in as the sun set, which happens here at about 7. It then promptly turned dark. Very frustrating to take boat apart in the dark. We could have used the headlights on the Probe’s suburban to shine some light on the pits.


Huge winds with nuclear puffs are forecasted starting tonight into tomorrow. Virtually everyone took down their masts, tied them to their hulls and anchored boat to ice.


Many sailors are heading home early. There is much concern about European countries closing boarders. Seems like the affects of the norovirus has finally hit Baikal.


Not sure what I’m going to do. Delta has already told me my flight to Mpls has been cancelled. I rebooked on Air France but now they too say my flights have been cancelled. If any of you big wigs have a private jet, please let me know. I would like to get home at some point.


Time for bed. Think ice.
Mike Bloom

Regatta Dates 2021


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4LIYC Race Results

Click for 4LIYC Meeting Dates


  • November 6
  • November 20 Elections, Elect Fleet Captains. Vote on ISA & NIYA Agenda Items
  • December 4
  • December 18
  • January 2 THURSDAY Honor Roll Nominations
  • January 15
  • January 29 Deadline for By-Law or Racing Rules Amendment Submission
  • February 12
  • February 26 Business Meeting
  • March 11

Location: Breakwater Restaurant

6308 Metropolitan Lane

Monona, Wisconsin

Time: 6:30 PM

(Come earlier for dinner)



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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