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.


NEW: Order your 4LIYC Burgee.

Not Liquid Yet

Moosehead Lake in Maine on April 17, 2020.

The Ice-Out Fat Lady continues her quarantine. Congratulations to the Chickawaukee ice sailors up in Maine who eked another day out of the season to make it a six month run. Read Bill Bucholz’s report here.

If the Canadian border was open, Pat Heppert and his C Skeeter would be sailing Thunder Bay this weekend. Mike Madge reported 2 feet of ice there on April 16th and they appear to still be sailing. Follow along on the Thunder Bay Ice Boating Facebook page.

Nites Go Grand Prix Style

2020 Nite Nationals on Green Lake. Photo: Rob Resnick

Nite Class Announcement


Following the end of our season which was at the 2020 National Championship we as a BOD were tasked with looking at a response to dealing with boats that were lapped on the race course in conditions that may have been marginal. Though rules exist in other iceboat classes that deal with this same issue, it tends to be in a more broad manner. We felt that in the best interests of the class and both experienced and less experienced sailors we have come up with a better solution. This solution is now known as the Grand Prix Rule.


This new rule will be in place in our sailing instructions going forward, it was voted on and passed by the BOD. The use of the Grand Prix Rule will also allow for the race management teams to apply it as needed. The insertion of the new rule in the Sailing Instructions made more sense then the Bylaws as it was a regatta management issue.


The rule reads as follows:


Grand Prix Rule
1. In regatta conditions consisting of marginal wind speeds and warm air temps or with both conditions in effect, the Grand Prix Rule may be instated for all competitors who are sailing within either fleet. This rule allows for lapped boats to be retired off the course.


2. The Head Judge and/or the race committee have the option to use this rule for all races meeting the criteria. Notification of the Grand Prix Rule in effect must be announced prior to the start of that race. A lime green flag will be displayed to competitors that have been lapped. Those individuals will accept their place and withdraw off the race course. The race committee can withdraw its use of the Grand Prix Rule for further races at any time if the conditions have improved, however races that have been sailed under the Grand Prix Rule may not be rescinded as long as all time limits and laps criteria have been met.


3. Scoring for boats that have been lapped shall be as follows see addendum 1.


We look forward to future events and the use of the Grand Prix Rule at Nite Nationals and also Nite Regattas. We hope this improves the already great events we have and allows for the enjoyment of sailors in all skill levels.


Nite BOD

Thunder Bay, Baby

DNer Mike Madge executes a fly-by maneuver on Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada on April 11.


Distraction of the Day: “Winter Has Its Share of Skeeters”

Paul Krueger’s  RAMBLIN’ A Class Skeeters spanning 40+ years: From left, c. 1970, c.1980, 2015 

Your ice sailing distraction today is an article published in Madison’s Wisconsin State Journal in 1976 about the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club, our members, boats, and boat development. This article was written shortly after Paul Krueger introduced the concept of the rear-seat Skeeter.  Charlie Johnson who was a club member for many years was also interviewed and shared the club’s long history which began with the stern-steerers.
Tip of the Helmet: Don Sanford

Paul Krueger, iceboating enthusiast from McFarland, set out to make some rather drastic changes in his iceboat for greater safety. He wound up with the greater safety he sought, and another plus. The boat turned out to be faster and he went to cleaning up at the races. Continue reading (pdf file).

Carl Bernard, Norm Braith, and a young Charlie Johnson with the MARY B on Lake Monona, c. 1950s.

Crash Test Dummy

The Spaight Street Syndicate and Russell Aviation collaboration begin the testing phase of their new powered kick-sleds.

Previously: “Get On Your Bad Motor Kicksled and Ride

Much to the displeasure of the Director of Product Development, Jeff Russell, the marketing team showed up in the lab to take glamour photos, even before any product testing was conducted. Seizing the opportunity, Russell lured the unsuspecting Director of Marketing, Daniel Hearn, into a test dummy role. “Looks great, doesn’t she,“ crowed Russell. “Sure does,” Hearn replied, “can’t wait to give her a go.” “It’s your lucky day,” exclaimed Russell, with a twinkle in his eyes!


There being no other gas handy, the sled was filled with high octane aviation fuel. “She might go just a little faster than usual, but I’m sure a stud like you can handle it,” he assured Hearn. Moments later, Hearn was flying down the test track unable to control the speed with no throttle yet installed. Russell claimed it was on back order. And the 20-tooth front sprocket may have generated a bit too much speed. “You should audition for next Jackass movie,” Russell suggested.


Today, with a 10-tooth front sprocket installed and standard fuel in the tank, the sled designer was ready for a spin.

You’ll want one.

Distraction of the Day: Sail Repair

Let’s watch an old sail being repaired at the Hardanger fartøyvernsenter in Western Norway for MATHILDE, a fishing boat, built in 1884. The same techniques were probably used to make and repair the sails on the stern-steerers pictured below. William Bernard kept a rental fleet of iceboats on Lake Mendota. Imagine that!
Tip of the Helmet: Ann Gratton

William Bernard’s fleet of rental stern steerer iceboats on Lake Mendota c.1895

Fat Lady Continues Social Isolation

The Fat Lady who sings of ice-break up has not been heard in parts of Montana and the Maritimes in Canada.

Via Doug Gaudet from the Maritime Ice Boating Facebook Group:
I’m not sailing but the Nites, with Peter McLaine, Angus Orford and Scott Stewart are still ripping Stanhope Bay apart. Here’s a couple of pic’s of the Nites and the three boys at rest . Pictures are by Alex Bruce.


In Montana, John Eisenlohr and friends have been sailing Lake Mary Ronan and applying rigorous standards to maintain social distancing.


Distraction of the Day: Lake Monona 6 Years Ago Today

DN iceboats line up to race on Lake Monona on March 29, 2014.     Photo: Tim Stanton.

It’s been over 20 years since iceboat.org went online.  Time to take a look a back through our own archives starting with Lake Monona 6 years ago.

March 29, 2014
Spring Sailing Continues

The DNs and Renegades were able to race on Lake Monona on Saturday on what looks to be pretty decent ice. Tim Stanton was there and took some more excellent photos from his RC drone

“Get On Your Bad Motor Kicksled and Ride”

Jeff Russell installing the throttle cable in unit #1.

Daniel Hearn talks about a recent collaboration with Jeff Russell to build motorized kick sleds patterned after what he saw in Sweden at the 2020 DN Worlds. I think these have the potential to be a game changer for regatta management. There will always be a need for ATVs, but these are easier to transport than ATVs.  Need to check ice, change the weather mark, push a disabled boat to the pits, or quickly change the starting line at a DN regatta? No problem, hop on the sled and give her the gas.

Quarantined Ice Sailors

I suck at sitting still. One year during summer vacation, when I was a little kid, my mom thought I needed some daily down time. I was supposed to sit quietly on the couch and read a book, draw, or ponder the universe. The exercise lasted two days. Now I’m going to be a grandfather and my behavior still hasn’t changed.

With COVID-19 rearing it’s ugly head and our governor ruling my livelihood a “non-essential business,” I’ve been sentenced to weeks of down time. (Clearly he didn’t check with my wife. It’s essential for her sanity that she gets me out of the house). Not being deterred by my plight, I convinced a friend to do something he didn’t even know he wanted to do. Advertising must be the right profession for me after all.

Rising from the current chaos is a new partnership between the Spaight Street Syndicate and Russell Aviation. The strategic alliance was formed to build a couple powered kick sleds in the United States for use in regatta management. One party is the brains of the operation and the other is the grunt labor, however, the NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) prohibits delineation of individual capabilities.

Daniel Hearn

Highly skilled laborer performing precision cuts in exotic metals.


Highly skilled laborer’s twin brother preparing the testing surface.

This American Boy c 1953 and Now

Previous: Another Ice Sailing Cover: Have the Time of Your Life

4LIYC Nite sailor and MARY B group member, Don Sanford, was reviewing some 1953 footage filmed on Lake Monona and noticed this young man sailing by on an iceboat. The boat looks similar to the plans published in the 1952 American Boy magazine posted here yesterday, March 24, 2020.

Below are photos of Andy Gratton’s boat PEANUT (aka Face Plant Boat) modeled after the plans in the same magazine.  He made it for his son years ago and has sailed it a number of times.

PEANUT and the famous Hudson River Stern Steerer JACK FROST which was visiting Lake Winnebago in 2013.  Click here to see video of JACK FROST being set up on that day.

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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