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 to January 30-31

Toledo Ice Yacht Club’s Jim Stribrny tests the limits of his Class A Stern-Steerer at the 2013 Northwest Regatta. For the record, WILD GOOSE landed back on the ice just fine.

Via WSSA Secretary Andy Gratton:

The Wisconsin Stern Steering Association regatta has been postponed to January 30 and 31, 2021. The next update will be Sunday, January 24. Check back here at that time.

Thanks for leaving the freezer doors open, the cold air is arriving. If you capsize, try to do better than both Don Ward and American Magic (see iceboat.org for more details).

Andy Gratton

WSSA Secretary/Treasurer

Regatta Watch: 2021 Renegade Championship Called ON for Jan 22-24

Via International Renegade Ice Yacht Association Regatta Chairman Don Anderson:

The 2021 Renegade Championship has been tentatively called on for January 22-24, 2021. The primary site is Lake Mendota for this three-day event. Don reports that there is a good surface layer of ice over slush and water on Lake Mendota. Colder temperatures this week are expected to firm it all up. Final confirmation will be made on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, by 1 PM CT.

Who Did It Better?

The iceboating community has been paying attention to the America’s Cup racing in New Zealand. We know that this year’s crop of foiling AC boats sometimes behaves like Stern-Steerers, and yesterday’s dramatic capsize is fodder for the commentariat around the planet. 4LIYC Commodore Don Anderson called me this morning. He suggested a comparison graphic between AMERICAN MAGIC and a Stern-Steerer, both about to capsize, which brought to mind the famous video and story about “The Day the Rosemary Tipped Over.” Thankfully, AMERICAN MAGIC’S crew safely survived the capsize though the boat sustained damage.  (Maybe they ought to think about a front-steering AC boat?)
Here’s the video embedded below, along with a link to Andy Gratton’s story. It’s also an excellent time to revisit when the Baker company tested foiling boats on Lake Mendota in the 1950s. Reread Foiled Again, initially posted in 2017.

Read Andy Gratton’s story, The Day The ROSEMARY Tipped Over.” Somewhere, Don Ward must be smiling.


Big Boats on Geneva Part 1

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. It’s Sunday morning, let’s go hiking on Geneva Lake in Wisconsin! I’ll upload the second part tomorrow.


Scout Mendota from Home

Mendota Today: North Cam Snap at 8:45 AM

Mendota Today

Would you like to scout ice from your comfortable chair? Remember to check in with the Mendota Today webcam for live views of Lake Mendota. The time lapses from the previous days are worth your time as well.

A slow-moving low-pressure system has enveloped much of Wisconsin the past day. What little snow the Four Lakes area received has melted in the ice on Mendota, as evidenced by this morning’s webcam view. However, there were reports of heavy slush on Mendota Friday. Lake Monona was a different story because its early freeze invited more snow cover. Monona has more thickness but more snow and slush. The ice is changing daily, and we are all holding our breath, hoping that sailable ice comes out of it all.


4LIYC Club Racing Update for Jan 16-17, 2021

Photo: Lori Conner

There will be no Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club racing for the weekend of January 16-17, 2021. Club members are keeping close watch on the state of the lakes and they are not quite yet in club racing condition. Colder weather moves in Sunday evening which should help us for next weekend.  The next update will be on Friday, January 22, 2021.


1963 England: Perfect Weather For a More Orthodox Winter Sport

Here’s a look at England’s frigid winter of 1963, which looks quite normal to Midwestern eyes. The dramatic melancholy soundtrack, more suited to an alien-invasion movie, shows how much England was not well equipped for cold weather. Of course, others saw a great opportunity in the freeze, and iceboats came down from the rafters. Go to the 30:00 minute mark to see ice yachting in England in 1963. Unfortunately, the documentary doesn’t give a location where the ice sailing took place. Perhaps it’s in Norfolk, which does have a history of ice sailing. Tip of the Helmet: Rick Thompson

Update January 15, 2021: UK DNer Chris Williams who served for many years at the IDNIYRA European Secretary recalls: “Thank you so much for that great film of the 1963 winter. We remember it well and were living in Edinburgh at that time – I was second in command of a Royal Navy Minehunter! The picture at the start showing a large expanse of ice and several different types of ice yachts is not in the UK. At the 30 minute point in the film with several basic – home made ice yachts in in Lincolnshire ( east England). I introduced my DN when I returned from 3 years in Canada in 1969. I had built my DN as part of a project at the Nova Ice Yacht Club where I am a Founder
Member! We built 11 DNS !
Think ICE


4LIYC Next Gen

Fritz Simon explaining runner technology.

Many thanks to Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club DN sailor Tim Sugar for sharing this good-news story.

In the Season of Giving, the Sugar families were greeted with not one, but two exceptional surprises.
DNer Mark Isabell  was selling his DN trailer to Tim and Hugh and “threw in” two, hand-crafted, Ice Optimist hull’s built by Mark.  The only ask was to outfit the hulls and get them on the ice.  You’ll see one of these beautiful hulls in the picture of the Sugar kids practicing their Opti skills in the front yard!  Thanks so much Mark!
The second surprise came two weeks later, when Renegade sailor Greg Simon, emailed Tim offering two complete ice Optimist programs to the Sugar clan!  These hulls were built by Jerry Simon for his grandkids Meta & Fritz.  Greg Simon completed the programs by hand sewing Optti sails!  Meta & Fritz have outgrown the Optis and the Sugar kids are the proud new stewards of these beautiful boats!
At delivery, the Simon’s rolled out the red carpet.  Cheese, sausage, beers, and personalized rigging instructions from the Simon kids were the order of the day.  It was an amazing evening of fun!  Thank you Simon family, we’re beyond grateful for your generosity.
If there are any families that are interested in trying the Optis, please give Hugh or Tim a call.  We are happy to continue the Season of Giving with any interested kiddos.

The Sugar kids have been waiting for this since first being on the ice in 2013 with dad Tim at the Western Challenge. 

Regatta Watch: 2021 Renegade Championship Postponed to Jan 22-24

Via International Renegade Ice Yacht Association Regatta Chairman Don Anderson:

 The 2021 Renegade Championship has been postponed until January 22-24, 2021. Lake Mendota’s ice needs more days of cold weather. The next update will be Sunday PM, January 17, 2021.

Chauncy Griggs 1936-2020

Chauncy Griggs, left talking with Dave Lallier at Burly & Donna Brellinthin’s cocktail party in Lake Geneva at the 2005 ISA. Photo: Jeff Smith

The ice sailing community extends condolences to friends and family of Minnesota ice sailor Chauncy Griggs who passed on January 7, 2021. Chauncy was an innovator well known for developing a wing-mast. He won a Challenge Pennant race in the 1990s on Lake Mendota with his sold wing mast. Those who were present still remember it as the fastest anyone had ever seen an iceboat move. His Class A Skeeter SHAZAM is pictured below.


Griggs III, Chauncey Wright Age 84 of Mahtomedi died at home on January 7, 2021. He was recently preceded in death by his life-long love, soulmate, and wife of 59 years, Ethel W. Griggs. Chauncey is survived by his sons Chauncey (Eileen), and Bill (Heather), his grandchildren Lydia, Oliver, Liesel, Bennett, and Julia, sisters Ginny Magnuson, and Gian Hartner, and Ethel’s sisters Ariel Dickerman, Barbara (Mike) Bliss, Sally (Mark) Foster and Cynthia Mills (David). He leaves behind many nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, and dear friends. Chauncey graduated from Saint Paul Academy and the University of Minnesota in mechanical engineering. He owned and operated Griggs Contracting for over 40 years, but his life revolved around his hobbies. He loved to work in the garage customizing cars, boats, and airplanes. He was an early adopter of the fixed wing sails in ice boating and land-sailing, constructing his own boat and wings. Chauncey was also a private pilot (venturing into acrobatic flying in his 7o’s), catamaran racer, windsurfer, water skier, and inventor. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to one of Chauncey and Ethel’s favorite causes in his memory: Planned Parenthood, the Girl Scouts, or Habitat for Humanity. A virtual service will be held on January 23, 2021 at 11:00. For viewing information, visit unityunitarian.org
Published on January 10, 2021

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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