The Fat Lady is warming up and has sung in the Four Lakes area. There’s been iceboat racing in Finland and on Lake Baikal in Siberia the past week. Thunder Bay, always the spot for spring ice, is still hanging in there. Mike Madge reports the bay has “lots of ice but still needs a little Zamboni work for my liking. I am getting a little pickier on the ice conditions, as we have had such a great season.”
UPDATE: Chickawaukee Ice Boat Club’s Bill Bucholz says they “aren’t giving up yet!” Keep informed on their site for any spring ice sailing.
Spring sailing continues in the desert as several 4LIYC members (Jim Nordhaus, Wayne Schmedlin and his 2 grandsons, Geoff Sobering, Brad Wagner, and Lars Barber) made the trek to the cathedral of land sailing, Ivanpah, for the Blokart North Americans. We had one day of racing on Sunday, but 75 mph wind gusts and a dangerous dust storm kept us off the race course on Monday. I’ll be heading out to the play soon, dressed in warm iceboating gear because it’s in the 30s here this morning. Follow along on the NABSA Facebook page.Results here.
Brad Wagner gets a push during the Enduro Relay Race on Saturday, April 1.
After squeezing all we could from Lake Kegonsa two weekends ago, Four Lakes members tucked away their boats and winter gear because surely the season was over. Kegonsa’s shoreline disappeared, and Monona was never an option because of the many holes, or as Greg McCormick stated, holes so big they deserved their own lake name. We knew Mendota was solid but figured there might be holes and a weakened spring shoreline.
On Wednesday, March 15, Don Sanford helpfully checked ice from 10,000 feet as he flew back from Newport, RI. Kegonsa was a mess, but Mendota looked good from that altitude.
What if: Mendota survived the warm temperatures? Thursday’s rain polished the surface? Friday night’s 10f hardened things up? The shore was tight on the east end?
DN and Renegaders Chad Atkins (RI) and Chris Gordon (MA) flew into Madison this weekend to pick up their DN trailer and head east. On the way to pick up Chad Thursday morning, I took a five-minute detour to look at Mendota’s Warner landing and was surprised to see the miracle of a tight shoreline. A few minutes later, fresh off the plane, Chad saw the flat expanse of Lake Mendota’s ice. We alerted Renegader Don Anderson, who is game for any iceboating adventure. We agreed to keep an eye on things, hoping for the What Ifs to fall in place.
Thursday night’s rain gave us little confidence for Mendota. Chad and I stopped at the lake on Friday morning before picking up Chris, again surprised to see the tight shoreline. Later that morning, Donny arrived to see for himself. After walking out in the raging wind to scout Warner Bay, Donny, and Chad pronounced it sailable but urged caution because of drain holes and cracks—spring ice changes by the hour. Boats might leave a perfectly fine shoreline only to return to 20 feet of open water. They would have to carry their Renegades to the ice because rolling on trailers would weaken the shoreline.
The hook was set; they couldn’t leave if there were a chance to sail their Renegades on Warner Bay. Chad and Chris bought Renegades last season but need more seat time because they focused on the DN World & North American Championship this season.
The promised cold arrived Saturday morning to tighten the ice, but the winds were gusting to 40 mph, which meant another day of waiting. Chad, Chris, and Damien Luyet tried a few laps at 4 PM but quickly realized the wind was still too strong. A puff made toothpicks out of Damien’s Renegade mast. Thankfully, Donny has spares.
Their patience paid off. Chad and Chris were rigged at sunrise Sunday morning, set up marks, and sailed a short course for 5 hours. Donny and Damien joined them at a reasonable hour for some scrub racing before Chad and Chris had to load up and drive back to Jamestown, RI, and Nantucket, MA. Everything fell into place. Chad and Chris look forward to competing in the next Renegade Championship.
Even in cold temperatures, spring ice changes quickly. A large heave popped up towards the middle of Mendota, foiling Donny’s plan to scout ice for a sail to the University of Wisconsin Union. Donny, Damien, and Brett Hulsley took advantage of what was there and sailed for the rest of the day.
Daniel Hearn sends word from the Spaight Street Syndicate that he’s unsure what boat season it is. Minnesota’s Dirk Siems sailed his DN on a sunny April day on Otter Tail Lake yesterday in what has to be some sort of late record for Minnesota DN sailing. 4LIYC sailors are returning from Ivanpah, Nevada, with some trophy hardware awarded during the Blokart dirt-sailing event. (More on that tomorrow.) No wonder we are all confused!
Dirk Siems usually finds the first ice for the Western Challenge in MN and now he’s on the hunt for the last ice of the season. He sailed on Otter Tail Lake yesterday, April 9, 2022.
Geoff Sobering won the overall and his division at the 2022 Blokart North American regatta at Ivanpah, Nevada.
Nite Nationals Tentatively On for April 1-3, 2022 in Escanaba (Upper Mi)
This is no April fools joke… Iceboating in April! The epic weekend definitely could happen. The weather looks good and the ice is there! We had multiple boats sailing up on the Little Bay de Noc in Escanaba, MI. Just a heads up, it is Eastern time up there so plan accordingly. Final call by Wednesday 9 PM. Make sure you are a member of INCA.
Sail Safe, Sail Fast,
Commodore Chad Rechcygl #322
Vice Commodore Maureen Bohleber #497
Secretary Brian Nies #351
Treasury Lars Barber #534
Tech Mike Peters #544
From left, Maureen Bohleber and Lars Barber in Nites, Mike Ripp, Skip Dieball, and Daniel Hearn in Renegades
Skeeters, Renegades, and Nites gathered on Friday for what possibly was the last day of racing on Lake Monona. Saturday’s record 1.2″ of rain, high winds, and forecasted warm temperatures may have put an end to the season here, but we’ll check to make sure of that.
Ken Whitehorse and Paul Krueger raced nine times in close match racing style. Ken told me, “Paul wanted to go for a record-breaking ten races, but I was the voice of reason and said we have to get the boats home.” Thanks Ken and Paul for getting us out there on Thursday and Friday .Always a pleasure to see the familiar red Renegade #11, with Mike Ripp at the helm, back on Lake Monona.
Taking advantage of our proximity to downtown Madison, Scott hauled us in the ATV trailer to the shore. We clambered up the sea wall, walked across the street, and had iceboaters lunch.
Lake Monona has been perfect for us this season, generating more interest in our sport and reintroducing Madisonians to the reality that we’ve been sailing these hard waters since the 1870s.