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.


  • November 20, 2019: 4LIYC Meeting @ Breakwater Information

That Time When A Car Raced Iceboats On Lake Monona

A Warren-Detroit automobile and Carl Bernard’s YELLOW KID stern-steerer. YELLOW KID was one of the 10 stern-steerers on the racing program for that day.

The Four Lakes area received another 5″ of snow yesterday making October 2019 the snowiest on record at 8.1 inches. I researched the previous years with snowy Octobers with the hope of finding a correlation between October snow and early ice sailing. There wasn’t enough data, but during the search, I stumbled across this 1916 newspaper article about a race between a “6 cylinder Warren Detroit auto” owned by Walter Haspell and 10 Madison stern-steerers on Lake Monona. The article notes that Mr. Haspell, an avid ice sailor himself, had previously “pitted his automobile…against the ice yachts but the found the course too slippery”. No word whether the race was run or who won.  Click on the newspaper clipping to enlarge it.

Of course you can’t have a post about automobiles vs. iceboats without this classic film from Lake St. Clair, posted below.

Are You READY for Ice?

The reason to ask is because the Four Lakes area and beyond woke up to an early winter this morning with more snow to come this week. The 4LIYC Skeeter fleet is on the trailer ready for ice. Ken Whitehorse applied the graphics to his newly painted WARRIOR just in time!

View out the iceboat.org window this morning.

4LIYC Nite Meeting Oct 30 @ Buck & Honey’s Monona

Nites on the line at the 2019 ISA on Lake Pepin in Lake City, MN

The 4LIYC Nites are have set up a dinner meeting to organize for the upcoming season.
Date: Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Time: 6:45 PM
Location: Buck and Honey’s Monona
800 W Broadway Suite 300, Monona, WI 53713
Via John Hayashi:

What Nite sailor will win it all this season?

Guess what, it’s time for the 4LIYC Nite fleet to get organized for the upcoming season. Last year, we met Dave and Busters. This year we are branching out and sampling what Monona has to offer. There is a lot to get straightened out because we have an O-fficial club meeting coming the following week. Rumor or plain lie [unconfirmed – Ed.] has it that Tim McCormick is purchasing Don’s backup Nite. (Does one really have a backup Nite? Hmmmm.) We can discuss round marks vs triangle marks, which bar is better – Springer’s or Good Old Days, you get the picture.

Remember he or she who doesn’t show gets elected . Congrats Fleet Captain. Ha ha!

Remembering Olaf Harken

Bill Mattison and Olaf Harken. Olaf visited the Mattison Circus back in 2011.  Photo: Don Sanford

Olaf’s Funeral Service
Date: Saturday, October 26, 2019
Time: Visitation 11 AM
Service 2  PM
Location: Galilee Lutheran Church
N24W26430 Crestview Dr,
Pewaukee, WI     Map
Reception to follow at Harken 

Olaf Harken passed away this morning, October 21, 2019. Olaf “did the hard work” according to brother Peter and that hard work had a monumental influence on ice sailing, not to mention soft water sailing. Olaf raced a Nite class iceboat. In his autobiography, Olaf described ice boating as “Our favorite, if not our most frustrating sport, …iceboating: a combination of race-car driving and sailing.” The ice sailing community sends our condolences to the Harken family and Harken employees. Fair winds, Olaf.

Following is cut and pasted from the Harken Facebook page:

Today we remember Olaf Harken. Olaf passed away peacefully in his sleep this morning with loved ones nearby.

This morning in Pewaukee, Peter Harken told an assembly of Harken members: “My brother did all the hard work so I could have all the fun. During the days when the company was just getting going, Olaf was in charge of the money. He kept us in business. If I had been in charge of that we would have been in big trouble. His legacy is in this culture. So, let’s just keep doing what we do. Just keep getting better. You are a great family. Thanks a lot. He’ll be watching you, so no sloughing off!”

The brothers took a lot of chances over the years – and their employees are still encouraged to do the same. When Olaf Harken was inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame in 2014 along with Peter, he explained the brothers’ business philosophy: “When trying new stuff our rule is to ask, ‘if it all goes bad, can we survive?’ Then we go to the bar and forget what we just said and do it anyway!”

The Harken story has been full of twists, turns, successes, and reinventions, but through it all, the goal of challenging the status quo and commitment to being at the front remains.

We encourage you to share your memories of Olaf with us. Feel free to leave a comment here or send us a message.

2011 Nite Class group photo. Olaf Harken is third from the left, back row.  Photo: Don Sanford.

FROSTY: Coming to a Lake Near You

 Jay Yaeso’s shop, the Area 51 of iceboat building, reveals his latest stealth project:

Something new out of the Suamico Skunk Works…
I have been so envious of Andy Gratton and Mike Kroll and their miles and miles of winter sailing. We decided to join them!
FROSTY… the Iceboat, is a “C” class rear steerer powered with a massive Skeeter wing spare. The remainder of the platform has been donated by the world famous ice yachter, Bob Kau!

Seeing Red

Out with the blue, in with the red.

PK and Ken have been working furiously on their Class A Skeeter programs this past week. PK’s been upgrading the trailer lights while Ken worked his magic and transformed the formerly blue boat into traditional 4LIYC red and white.


Paul Exner: Elusive EQUINOX of Sailing

Paul Exner  waits for wind in his Renegade iceboat on Lake Mendota January 10,  2004          Photo: Craig Wilson, Kite Aerial Photography

Paul Exner is a professional sailing coach and former 4LIYC member who now lives in Hawaii. Through his business, Modern Geographic Sailing, he  “help[s] sailors GET OFF THE DOCK and GO ANYWHERE BY SAIL safely and efficiently aboard their own boat.” Paul spent 10 years in Madison building SV SOLSTICE from a bare Cape George 31 hull. He posted the following story on his Facebook page about his Renegade days:

“Elusive EQUINOX of Sailing … I had a graffiti artist TAG my iceboat back in the day. I was new to ice-sailing, but got into it with 28-years of hard-core sail-racing background … I guess I wanted to make an impression.

This is a Renegade Iceboat, you can’t buy them commercially; they’re all owner-built. I didn’t build this Renegade, but I’d just completed the 10.5 year build of my SV Solstice so I bought this one from Jeff Russel; I joined Jim Nordhaus’ ice-boat work-shop in Madison, WI to work alongside a huge crew of ice-racers all modifying and tweaking their machines … super cool days.

I never really set the world on fire with my racing-results in the Renegade fleet, but man did I learn A LOT, and I had a few moments of racing success, especially in lighter-winds.

read more…

Regatta Dates 2020


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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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