Wings On The Ice
Some of the ice sailing community may be spending more time at home this winter than on the ice – depending upon local conditions. If sailing is impossible this season, let the internet help you explore more about the sport and its history in the form of online books. This is the first in a series of posts about ice sailing books.
I stumbled across a new-to-me resource, the HathiTrust digital library. What a surprise to find a complete digital version of Frederic Gardiner’s Wings On The Ice. Published in 1938, Wings On The Ice has been one of the most sought after ice-sailing books in North America for many years. My copy was an eBay purchase that cost the equivalent of a gallon of epoxy and hardener.
I learn something new or relearn something forgotten each time I open Wings On The Ice. For instance, Harry Melges Sr. is listed along with Walter Beauvais -Beauvais is credited with originating the Skeeter class – as a designer of the Four Runner Iceboat. (See Iceboating Tech That Never Caught On.)
Wings On The Ice is loaded with such a great wealth of information that I could devote a whole year of website posts to it. Speaking of relearning things forgotten, the book also references some of the earliest plans for ice yachts from Fredrik Henrik af Chapman’s book, ArchitecturNavalis Mercatoria published in 1768. (See Chapman’s Iceboat Plans of 1768.)
If ice sailing building, racing, and history interest you, pull up a chair to the virtual fire, turn on the e-reader, and immerse yourself in the details of this sport.
“The design, construction, and handling of an ice boat is an art rather than an exact science.” Herbert L. Stone
Yachting Magazine editor Herbert L Stone, editor of the first ice sailing book in the United States, is being inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame. Stone edited the book “Ice Boating” in 1913 and also wrote the forward to “Wings On the Ice” (published in 1938), one of the best books on the subject ever written.
I can find no evidence that Stone ever owned an iceboat but he had a tremendous influence on the sport by helping to popularizing it through articles in Yachting Magazine. Stone played a big part in reviving the Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant (IYCP) when he encouraged the IYCP trustees of the New Hamburgh Ice Yacht Club to pass on the trusteeship to the Eastern Ice Yachting Association.
Read Ray Ruge’s 1950 article about the revival of the IYCP published in Yachting World here.
Stone’s forward in “Wings On the Ice”, written 81 years ago, still rings true today.
Perhaps one of the chief charms of ice boating is the fact that the implements with which the sport is played, just as in the case of sailing yachts, have not been reduced to a fixed, static quantity. The design, construction, and handling of an ice boat is an art rather than an exact science. There is still room for the play of new ideas, for the expression of individual talent, for the exercise of skill, knowledge, and ingenuity.
Herbert L. Stone
Excerpt of forward to Winds on The Ice, Frederic M. Gardiner
Other ice sailors who have been inducted into the NSHOF are: Peter Barrett, Bill Bentsen,Jan Gougeon, Meade Gougeon, Olaf Harken, Peter Harken, and Buddy Melges