Ice boating is a sport that is done on frozen lakes around the world, going back to the turn of the century. Some of the first ice boats were designed to carry supplies across lakes or up and down frozen rivers. This made travel much easier and a lot faster in winter conditions. There are many different classes that range in size. For example, the smallest boat, an ice opti, is a small, one person boat designed with simplicity to help children learn to sail. The largest class is the “A” stern steerer and can hold up to 6-8 adult passengers. All classes have their unique differences and every sailor has his or her own preference. As with soft water sailboats, ice boats use a sail and need wind for power, with the right wind and ice conditions boats can reach speeds over 100 mph. The difference is that they ride on three sharp steel runners. The majority of classes of boats have two runners in the rear that keep the boat upright and one in the front that is used for steering. The exception would be the stern steerer classes. It still only has 3 runners but it is steered from the rear. Ice boating can be done by people of all ages. There are children as young as 5 years old to life time sailors in their 90’s participating in the sport. The ice boating season usually starts in mid to late November and lasts until late February-early March depending on ice conditions. Ice boating can be for recreational fun or can be a competitive sport. Regattas are held throughout the season.
One of the great things about this sport is the sailors. Ice boating is a passion and every one of them would like to pass on their knowledge and abilities to the next generation of sailors. We encourage people to come out look at the boats, ask questions or even go for a ride. Ice boating is a unique sport and not many people have seen this before. That is why I think it so exciting for the sailors to share with others a sport and/or hobby they love.
Ice boat clubs are around the world. If there is a lake there is a possibility they have a club. They range from few members to over 100 members. With social media today it is easy to stay in touch with what clubs are doing, where they are located, and where they are sailing. One of the larger websites to use is the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club, www.iceboat.org (Madison, WI); from there you can find just about every club in the country. The Green Lake Ice Yacht Club has a website (www.gliceboats.blogspot.com) and Facebook page (Green Lake Ice Yacht Club) they use to communicate to their members and to rest of the sailing world. It posts projects members are working on, it reports on ice conditions in the area and it shares some great pictures of recent days of sailing. The websites are also a way to find boats or parts that are for sale. This makes it easy for people to buy a boat and join a club. All clubs welcome new members to join and share in the fun.
Todd Morgan Vice Commodore Green Lake Ice Yacht Club