It’s the off-season here at iceboat.org which means there will be more posts about iceboat building and the history of the sport. 4LIYC racing and general regatta information will be posted here during the season. If this is your first time here, thanks for stopping by and check out our “How to Get Involved” page for more information. Please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. Think ice!
NEW: Order your 4LIYC Burgee.
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
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.
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.
Speaking of iceboat plans, here are scans of some the earliest plans for ice yachts on record from Fredrik Henrik af Chapman’s book, ArchitecturNavalis Mercatoria published in 1768. (Benjamin Franklin commissioned a set of iceboat drawings from the Dutch in 1767, one year earlier than the publication of Chapman’s book.) Chapman, born in Sweden to English parents, is considered to be the first naval architect.
Though many in the ice sailing world have been aware of these plans for quite sometime, they were new to me. My post about stumbling across the iceboat plans that Benjamin Franklin commissioned prompted Alexander de Voss to take the time to scan and share Chapman’s plans with us which are based upon traditional Dutch ice yachts.
A few words about Alexander de Voss. I met Alexander on Lake Orsa in Sweden this winter when his ice sailing club De Robben trailered their vintage boats from the Netherlands for a week of cruising. (Previous: Where It All Began) He and his son brought a vintage DN and a really cool small-scale Monotype. In 2010, Alexander, built a historical shipyard in order to preserve local old vessels, materials and shipbuilding techniques. If you like wooden boats, read The Historical Shipyard of Alexander de Voss and Shipyard “Klaas Hennepoel” – Warmond to learn more about this functioning museum.
Mike Bloom is back home from Lake Baikal after an extraordinary journey home.
Home at last!
Thanks to all of you who were rightfully worried about my getting back to the USA.
Being in Baikal doesn’t exactly provide a true version of life on the outside. Baikal’s mystical powers are rooted in its isolation.
When I left for Baikal kids were still going to school, Purell was readily available, and face masks were on the shelves at Walgreens. Obviously, things changed quickly while I was gone but in Baikal the effects of the coronavirus on the real world was significantly muted. Plus, we had no television, no radio, no newspaper, no magazines and very little internet. I assumed no news was good news
My first inclination I might have problems getting home was when Delta sent me an email stating the departing flight I booked two months ago was cancelled.
They rebooked me on Air France flight through Amsterdam but in true airline fashion my new reservation included an 8-hour layover in Amsterdam and a 12 hour layover in Atlanta. I later learned I was flying through Atlanta because the Minneapolis airport was closed to direct flights from Europe.
Because of the extensive layovers I was actually happy when later that day Air France then told me that their flight was cancelled. I was then rebooked through Paris and on to Dallas. However, when the Paris airport was closed to foreigners, my reservation was cancelled. I then borrowed Joerg Bohn’s phone and rebooked my Monday flight flying direct from Moscow to New York.
And, of course, being is the middle of Siberia doesn’t help. It creates all kinds of logistical issues. First, I had no cell service in Baikal and the internet connection was marginal at best. But more problematic is the fact that Baikal is a 5-hour car ride to the airport and an 8-hour flight to Moscow. Plus, it is no easy feat to find a cab driver willing to drive 5 hours from Irkutsk down a dirt road to pick me up and then turn around and drive 5 hours back to the airport.
Tuesday night I learned that the other Americans in Baikal,Chris Berger and his girlfriend Marci, had already made the decision to leave early. When I discovered that Marci had already secured a cab ride to the Irkutsk airport for Wednesday evening, I took that as a sign and decided I should go with them. It was a difficult decision to make but I knew it was the right decision. Many of the European sailors had already pulled out because several European countries were closing their borders. I didn’t think I wanted to be in Russia if they closed their border.
So I booked an Aeroflot flight flying direct to New York. I was on the first available flight. But that flight was cancelled. I then got lucky because when I tried to rebook the flight I found a seat on a plane leaving Thursday morning.
Wednesday night Chris, Marci, and I jumped in the cab and drove the 5 hours to the airport in Irkutsk. We arrived in Irkutsk about 10 pm. Chris and Marci went to a hotel. Since I had to be back at the airport at 3 am, and was too cheap to spend money on a hotel, I went to the airport.
I got to the airport in Irkutsk about 11 pm and waited till 3 am to check in for the 5am Thursday morning flight. At exactly 3 am, the Aeroflot gate agent appeared at the ticket counter. She was very stern and definitely not happy with my 2 oversized duffle bags and my way too heavy gun case full of runners. She spent the next 30 minutes calculating the cost of the oversized and overweight baggage and asking me questions in fluent English about the content of my bags. I think she took pleasure in telling me the overweight bags would cost $500 to get home, double what I paid when I flew the other direction. Of course, as soon as I questioned the exorbitant price, she no longer could speak English. Thus, I did the only thing I could do, I slid my visa across the counter and using the best sarcasm possible I said “thank you.” Miraculously, her English returned just long enough to tell me that even though I had purchased comfort class with extra leg room neither this flight nor my flight from Moscow to New York had comfort class seats. Plus, If I wanted a refund, I had to call the number on the back of a card she gave me, but I couldn’t call till the office opened at 9 am, some three hours after my plane departs.
The flight from Irkutsk to Moscow was a painful 8 hours. After a 2 hour layover I then flew an even more painful 10 hours from Moscow to New York (JFK). Surprisingly, getting through customs was a breeze. It was almost nonexistent. There was no customs to speak of. Nobody even bothered to ask me about the gun case, let alone look inside. Even more surprising, there was no real heath check. Other than completing a short health questionnaire and walking by a guy who took my temperature using one of those temporal thermometers, you wouldn’t think coronavirus is a global issue.
While in the custom area I noticed my bags were tagged to go to Detroit, not MSP. Predictably, nobody was at the Delta counter so I was forced to leave the customs area and go upstairs to the Delta ticket counter. Once there I learned that Delta had cancelled my flight to Minneapolis along with all the other flights that night to Minneapolis. The next available flight was the next day at 4 pm.
At this point, I had not slept for about 30 hours. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I couldn’t bear the thought of a 24 hour layover. This was the 7th flight that had been cancelled!
Fortunately, I had enough sense to check my Delta app. I did what the Delta agent could not do. I found a Delta flight leaving in 90 minutes out of LaGuardia. After a quick cab ride from JFK to LaGuardia I walked onto a near empty plane and arrived in Minneapolis early Thursday evening.
Glad to be home. Glad we came home when we did. Twelve hours after I arrived, both JFK and LaGuardia closed because air traffic controllers have tested positive for coronavirus. It is a trend that will not reversed anytime soon.
Despite my expectations, I was not quarantined, unless you count my wife who says she won’t come within 6 feet of me, but that might not be coronavirus related. Still, the CDC says symptoms typically appear within 5 days of exposure so I’ll hang low till next week.
So that’s my Baikal experience. Honestly, the good parts of the trip clearly outweigh the hassles of getting home. I’d go back in heartbeat.
Ran across these marvelous magazine covers during internet travels. They make me wonder the fate of the originals and make me hope they are being enjoyed somewhere by someone.
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
Hang on as you ride the plank with Steve Orlebeke back in 2016 on Lake Kegonsa.
Here’s a clip from our friends on Lake Scugog in Canada from last weekend. Happy to learn that other iceboaters from Canada and the east coast have connected with them. Expect to see more ice sailors on Scugog!
Previous: Renegades Get Another Day in Canada