From Ice to Dust – Ivanpah 2024

From Ice to Dust – Ivanpah 2024

NALSA RESULTS has been covered in dust while visiting the spring training grounds of Ivanpah, Nevada, where ice sailors have traded their runners for wheels. Last week, I spent a few days as a tourist at the North American Land Sailing Championship. It was an opportunity to hang out with 4LIYC Commodore Daniel Hearn, Pat Heppert, SIBC’s Bob Cave, Ken Smith, John Eisenlohr, Bill Dale, brothers Jim and Dave Gluek, and Pete Johns, to name a few. There was a high concentration of ice sailors in the Mini-Skeeter class, developed by John Eisenlohr, several years ago. The sight of Pat Heppert’s green C Skeeter, DRIFTER, on the dirt, created a surreal juxtaposition, as I’m accustomed to seeing it on ice.

Racing highlights included watching competitors cross the finish line, the speed battles between John Eisenlohr and the Gluek brothers, and Daniel Hearn dialing in the Mini-Skeeter he borrowed from Pete Johns. (Why he had to borrow a boat in the first place is a story for Daniel.) The race committee’s longstanding familiarity with each other translated into effortlessly managing races and enjoying the task.

Social events on the playa were unique. I learned about the tradition of mixing margaritas in a repurposed cement mixer (thankfully, I missed the “gritty” years.), ate freshly prepared fish tacos seconds out of the fryer, and enjoyed the chili cook-off.

Competitors remarked that the playa was in the best condition they had seen in many years, comparable to our black ice – smooth and hard with very few humps or cupping.

Later this week, I’ll be back on the playa for another exciting event, the 2024 Blokart World Championship. Competitors from 11 countries include several 4LIYC members, Jim Nordhaus, Geoff Sobering, Brett Husley, Lars Barber, and Brad Wagner.

Recent rains on the playa have left the Blokart regatta organizers in an eerily familiar position, reminiscent of the same uncertainties often faced by ice sailors. The Federal Bureau of Land Management, responsible for overseeing the playa, has enforced gate closures during rainy periods to safeguard the integrity of the dry lake bed. Unlike snow on a lake, the arid conditions of the high desert typically facilitate the rapid evaporation of moisture. With a sunny forecast ahead, regatta organizers are hoping that the playa will soon be accessible once again for the Blokart regatta. Racing is scheduled from Saturday, April 6, through Friday, April 12. You will be able to see Blokart results here.


Whole Lotta Boinging Goin’ On

Here’s the latest Spaight Street Syndicate Update on the baker’s dozen Nite mast project:

Whole Lotta Boinging Goin’ On

Yesterday was boinging day at the Spaight Street Syndicate. With a baker’s dozen of Sitka Spruce Nite Racing Masts nearing completion, it was time to determine the boingosity of each. Freshly back from the American Magic camp in Barcelona, the smart person job was handled by Kyle Navin, while the old man (the reigning Nite National Champion) recorded the data. “Funny, but every time the weight needed to be hoisted onto the sling, the two old guys had “business” to conduct on their phones,” commented the junior Navin. Little did Kyle know, but this was actually a training session on the fundamentals of business management–the day’s focus being on delegation and empowerment.


Precise boing data was collected with a top secret amount of weight (it was 80 lbs.) suspended at the mast center, with readings taken at the bottom third, halfway and two thirds points. The builders were pleased to note that the boing was remarkably consistent from side to side, even prior to final tuning. Over the range of masts, centerpoint boingosity was recorded from 3.2″ to 5.8″. In the days ahead, comparisons will be made to other existing masts that have performed well on the ice in the past.


Key questions–
1.) How much boing is ideal?
2.) How much is too much boing before mast failure?
3.) Since we now have the option to lose the lead, are softer masts more practical? Inquiring minds want to know.

Iceboating 101

4LIYC Junior Sailing Page
IDNIYRA Junior Sailing Page

This slide presentation, created by Sam Bartel, the IDNIYRA Junior Sailing Director, is cross-posted on DN North America. However, it is too valuable not to share with the entire ice sailing community. Keeping the pipeline full is crucial for DN Junior Sailing, and Sam’s presentation helps maintain and improve momentum.

Nite Rager Report 1

Nite Rager Report 1

Shop dog Mike knows wood is good.

Nite sailors Daniel Hearn, Dave Navin, and Nite Commodore Maureen Bohleber gathered at 4LIYC Renegader Damien Luyet’s shop last Friday to kick off a ten-mast build. Under the watchful eye of Jerry Simon, they spent the day using a table saw, bandsaw, and planer to shape Sitka Spruce boards into mast blanks. Brad Wagner, Jim Lafortune, and Don Anderson dropped in to check on the process of making sawdust. The mast blanks are now at Daniel Hearn’s shop for the next steps of routing for the mast track and production of metal components.

Dirt Report: Now That The Dust Has Settled

An excessively enthusiastic Daniel Hearn contemplates DRIFTER in the desert. Photos via Facebook: Ralph Raymond

Now That the Dust Has Settled

(Report from Daniel Hearn on the America’s Cup of Landsailing)

He called at exactly the right time. It appeared the Fat Lady was about to sing. (Oops, lack of wokeness. Much work to be done on my sensitivity. What I meant to say was, “that the perfectly round person, who is currently identifying as a female singer, was about to share a vocal performance”). The ice sailing season was all but over. I’d had a good run but was intrigued with the idea that the solid surface action could be extended. Or maybe I’m just an addict. There are worse things.


“Just fly into Vegas, “the laid back, but highly convincing man said. “I’ll have the boat on the playa ready to go. A couple hours later, I’d purchased a ticket, rented a campervan, and confirmed that my buddy was still bringing Drifter v.1. Check—Mini Skeeter designer, John Eisenlohr is bringing me his fully sorted boat that no one else can beat. (I can fix that). Check—C-Skeeter Bubble Boat designer, Pat Heppert is driving west and bringing all the food. Check—All I have to do is show up with a helmet. I’ll never be closer to rock stardom.


It’s different in the dirt. You’re not a Skipper or Helm, you’re a Pilot. Most pilots use a pusher off the line, but the pusher can’t cross the line. A boat not using a pusher can push for as long as they desire. Races last a specified period; usually 15 minutes. Scoring is a combination of laps completed and finishing position. Start line is closed after the flag drops. Boats must pass through a “scoring line” adjacent to the start line on each lap, for that lap to be scored. The boat on the right always has right of way. Protests are rare. And get this—they sometimes round to starboard. Now that’s a mind bender!


Many ice sailing skills seem to transfer. But I was also reminded that old habits are, indeed, hard to break. 18 Mini Skeeters and I was feeling pretty good about myself finishing in the second position in my very first race. Back in the pits, however, race winner, Dave Gluek, another long-time ice sailor, realized that the top three finishers had all rounded the bottom mark on each lap in the wrong direction. We’d spent the entire training day rounding all marks to port. But on race day when it counted, everything was backwards for the ice sailors. We successfully rounded the top mark to starboard and opened a big lead on the rest of the fleet. Approaching the bottom mark, we were so focused on each other, we forgot it was a starboard hike we should be managing. Top three to DSQ. Ugh! Since misery loves company, many others made us feel less stupid, repeating the same error. Our PRO remarked that he’d never seen so many DSQs across all the fleets in a single race. An anonymous, highly experienced dirt pilot, having committed the same rounding error, further magnified by failing to cross the scoring line on the first lap succinctly summed up his performance with, “fast boat, slow mind.”


“Push like your pants are on fire,” read the starting tip in the Mini Manual. Taking that to heart in another race I gave it my best Usain Bolt. >From either the tremendous thrust I generated, or the fact that my steering dampener had loosened a bit (not sure which), my steering flopped to leeward just as I was jumping into the cockpit. I found myself on a fast-closing collision course with the pilot below, unable to grab the steering bar in time. So, after laying some rubber on him, apologizing profusely, and confirming no damage, I pushed off sheepishly hoping to chase down some of the fleet. DFL at the first mark…lots of work to do. Fortunately for me, the breeze was up and down, and shifty. I was able to keep MS1 in the pressure, recovering to a sixth place finish. Not bad considering my embarrassing start.


Same as ice sailing, the dirt people were really cool. Super friendly, glad to see a new face, happy to help and great competitors. Serious racing, for sure, but nobody seems to forget we’re just doing this for fun. The camaraderie on the playa is built in. Most everybody stays right there on the dirt in various camping rigs with hard sides. We saw gusts to 49 mph, so you can imagine the soft sides of a tent might not be the best choice.

Dave Gluek was clearly the fastest in the Mini Fleet. He would have run away with the title if it were not for his gracious personality. Up to the last race he was all bullets, except for his Race 1 DSQ for rounding the wrong way. In the last race he racked another bullet, but then inadvertently sailed over the start line when he turned to waive a thank you acknowledgement to the Committee. Unfortunately, this gave him a second DSQ and prevented him from getting his name on the trophy this year. But the rest of us knew he was the pilot to beat, and his classy display of sportsmanship will be remembered for many years to come. Also had the pleasure of meeting his wife, Vicki. Nice lady. Will look forward to seeing Dave, Vicki and all my newfound dirt friends on the playa in the future.


Big thanks to John Eisenlohr for inviting me to come and providing a boat. (The performance of the Mini Skeeter on the dirt greatly exceeded my expectations)! And to Team Eisenlohr for all the help, guidance and tips to a dirt virgin. And to my good friend, Pat Heppert, for doing all the hard work and putting up with my excessive enthusiasm.


Team MMS (Midwest Mini Skeeters) has officially launched. It appears we may be building at least five boats, possibly to live on a shared trailer. If there are any other Midwest ice sailors who may be interested in extending their hard surface seasons, please reach out to me.