Ice Optimists

Iceboats Designed for Kids.


Designed to be easy to build using commonly available materials, to keep costs to a minimum.

Fun For Kids

Uses standard Optimist dinghy sail plan, so youth sailors can use much of the same equipment in summer and winter.

About the Ice Optimist

About the Ice Optimist

It was created specifically as a youth trainer. It was designed to be easy to build using commonly available materials, to keep costs to a minimum. It uses a standard Optimist dinghy sail plan (hence the name), so youth sailors can use much of the same equipment in summer and winter, if they sail/race in both seasons.
An Ice Optimist is a smaller, less powerful boat than a DN. It is about two feet shorter in length, has a narrower plank, has less sail area, is easier to build, is far less costly, and is generally sailed in a bit more comfortable upright position. A DN is no longer an “entry level” ice boat that is well-suited for kids. Although technology advancements have made modern DN’s easier to sail than their predecessors, they are also faster and far more expensive–two factors that really make them less appropriate as a youth trainer. An Ice Optimist provides performance and stability that are a better match for the experience level and self confidence of most “green fleeters.”
An Ice Optimist can be built for about $1,000; the majority of the cost being accounted for by the sail plan ($500 used) and the runners ($300 used). By contrast, a modern DN can easily exceed $7,000. Building an Ice Optimist requires no special tools. Many are built with straight sideboards eliminating the need for bending/re-gluing or complex angle cuts.
If you’d rather buy one, check the Buy & Sell page of this website. Commercial iceboat builders such as Composite Concepts and Williams Infusion offer complete packages or components.
Ice Optimists can be sailed on smaller sheets of ice than other ice boats. Small lakes and even larger ponds can be quite suitable. They should always be sailed under tight supervision by adults. The 4LIYC will be hosting youth races over the lunch breaks during weekend club races and other youth training opportunities, such as dry land discussions/parties, are being planned.
Ice boating is safe for kids as long as proper safety precautions are followed. Under no circumstances should kids be ice boating alone or without close adult supervision. Kids should never be sailing on thin ice or near open water. Proper safety gear is mandatory: a helmet, goggles, ice creepers, ice picks, a life jacket, a whistle, warm clothing. The North American Ice Opti Racing Association requires that all Junior sailors wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket at ALL times while on the ice whether racing or not. The Iceboat Safety page has tips for gear and keeping safe on the ice.
Contact Ron Rosten in Madison, WI, the North American Ice Optimist Program Director. He’d be glad to, give you building plans and construction tips, point you to sources for materials/parts, discuss the clubs approach to teaching juniors, etc. Email Ron Rosten

Latest Ice Optimist News

2019 Junior World Championship Begins

Thor Rosten at the 2018 Junior DN World Championship

EU IDNIYRA Junior News

The 2019 DN & Ice Optimist Junior World and European Championships were called on for Lake Niegocin in Gizycko, Poland for February 4-8. 4LIYC DN sailor Thor Rosten and his dad, Ron, are there and again traveling with the Swedish team.  Ron reports that they may be looking at an alternative site because of a snowfall during the night. The opening ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday, February 5 at 10:00 with racing to follow. Stay tuned!

Iceboat Tech That Never Caught On: Front-Seater Junior Iceboat


Illustration From Mechanix Illustrated, undated, c.1940s

These Mechanix Illustrated plans for a front-seater junior ice yacht never caught on but you can still “make your youngster the envy of every kid on the pond” with a modern Ice Optimist iceboat. The illustration reminds me of the 2008 video of the Stern-Steerer Kid, embedded below the plans.

The Two Mr. M’s

From left to right is Ivar Steffner, Gustav Lindén, Wilhelm Alness, Axel Steffner, Oskar Svensson, Rasmus Söderman.

From Ron Rosten, just returned from the Junior World Championship:

Parallel Universe. The gentleman standing behind Team Sweden is Uppsala’s Kjell Mattsson. Every DN in Uppsala, Sweden has been built, repaired, or upgraded in Mr. Mattsson’s shop. Does this sound familiar to anyone in Madison with an almost identical last name?

2018 Junior Ice Sailing World & European Championship Update

Photo: Andrius Repšys    Thor Rosten US888 raises the flag at the opening ceremony of the DN & Ice Optimist World Championship in Lithuania

The Junior DN & Ice Optimist World Championship regatta has been completed with 7 races in the DN fleet and 6 in the Ice Optimist fleet. Congratulations to Estonian sailor Rasmus Maalinn who sailed nearly a perfect regatta with 6 firsts and one second. 2017 JWC Eddie Klemets of Sweden was second. Zuzanna Rybicka of Poland was the highest placing female with an 8th. Estonia’s Karl Ader took first in the Ice Optimist division and another Estonian, Lisbeth Taggu, was the highest placing female with fifth place finish.
The show isn’t over yet as the fleets are making a two hour move (because of snow in Lithuania) today northeast to Riga, Latvia to complete the European Championships tomorrow.

Photo: Andrius Repšys

Junior Ice Sailing World Championship: Day 1

Photo: Pranciškus Repšys                                               Opening Ceremony

The DN Junior and Ice Optimist Word and European Championschips got underway on Lake Rekyva in Lithuania.
There were 2 DN races and 1 Ice Optimist race. From what I gather on Facebook, the wind was light today. 4LIYC DNer Thor Rosten is competing in the championship.

Regatta Watch: Junior Worlds in Lithuania Feb 5-8

Video from DN Ice Sailing Lithuania Facebook page, January 31, 2018, Lake Rekyva.
The DN and Ice Optimist Junior World Championship will take place in Siaulai, Lithuania on Rekyva Lake.
Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club DNer, Thor Rosten, and his dad Ron, are leaving for the regatta today and taking Thor’s Meade Gougeon red DN acquired over the summer from Ron Sherry.  Good luck, Thor!

Ice Optimist 2018 North American Championship


Download Notice of Race
2018 North American Ice Optimist Championship

Date: Friday, January 5: Practice Day
Saturday, January 6 – Sunday, January 7: Racing Days
Location: The regatta will be held at the site of the 2018 DN Western Regionals. (Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, or Iowa.)
This will be a fun oriented event with no prior racing experience required. Due to kids graduating out of the Optimist Class, there are many Optimists available and a short of kids to sail them. If you know kids that have an interest, please contact Ron Rosten and we’ll set them up with a boat.
Awards shall be given to the yachts placing first through fifth.
Entry fee is $20.00 per yacht.
Contact Ron Rosten at for more information. Also see Ice Optimists of North America Facebook page for regatta updates.

Sam Bartel, an active DN class sailor and Director of Race Operations at the Lake Minnetonka Sailing School has stepped forward to take the reins of the DN Junior Ice Optimist program. 
Learn more about Sam and junior iceboating by visiting the IDNIYRA website. 
IDNIYRA DN Junior & Ice Optimist Page