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

DN Sailor Selected for Sweden’s America’s Cup Youth Racing Team

Photo: Gretchen Dorian

Sweden’s Eddie Klemets has become the first ice sailor to make inroads in the America’s Cup program. He has been selected for the Artemis Youth Racing Team. Eddie’s most recent DN titles include winning the 2017 DN Junior Worlds and European championship. America’s Cup Youth Racing’s mission is “to provide an unprecedented career path by identifying the world’s top young sailors and helping to prepare them for the challenge of America’s Cup racing.” Racing begins in June. Learn more on the America’s Cup Youth Sailing website.

4LIYC Ice Optimist sailor, Thor Rosten, and Eddie Klemets at the 2017 DN & Ice Optimist Worlds in Poland.

2017 North American Championship Ice Optimist Notice of Race

2017 North American Ice Optimist Championship
Friday, January 20, 2017 – Practice Day
Saturday, January 21 and Sunday, January 22, 2017 – Racing Days
The Regatta will be held at the site of the DN Worlds in the North American Western Region and will take place at the location and will take place at the location with the best ice conditions in the region. (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, or Iowa.)

This will be a fun oriented event with no prior racing experience required.
Awards shall be given to the yachts placing first through fifth.
Entry fee is $20 per yacht.
Contact Ron Rosten at ron.rosten AT


European Ice Sailing for Juniors
Ice Optimist Drawings and Class Rules(.pdf files) zipfile
Ice Optimist Training Manual

Welcome to the North American Ice Optimist Homepage

The IDNIYRA has announced that a new volunteer has stepped forward to head up the Ice Optimist program.
Ron Rosten, an active Renegade class sailor with the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club in Madison, Wisconsin traveled with his son,Thor, to the Ice Optimist and DN Junior World Championships in Estonia in February 2015. As a result, Thor is hooked on the sport and Ron has stepped forward to take the reins of the Ice Optimist program.
The first Ice Optimist program director, Daniel Hearn, did an incredible job starting the Ice Opti program and putting together great events which included safety, training, and social activities. Kids made life long friends while having fun-what iceboating is supposed to be about.
Thank you, Daniel, for all you continue to do for iceboating
Ron grew up racing a DN in regional and national regattas. He has served as the Renegade class Secretary for several years and is experienced with all aspects of ice sailing and regatta organization.
Ron said he wants to “try and bring in as many new kids as possible. The goal is to run on a separate course from the senior fleet with a group of sailing coaches whose objective is to assist all kids and make sure everybody has a great experience. Look for a newsletter in the fall with a Ice Opti Facebook page. Any ideas and suggestions to get the program off the ground are welcome.” Ron can be contacted by telephone at 608-692-8816 or email:

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