Famous ice boat Masters
The first recreational ice boat dates to 1790, although it was 1860 before the sport became popular. It was taken up by the very wealthy in the northern lakes of the USA. John A. Roosevelt, uncle of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was the precursor of The Hudson River Ice Yacht Club.
What was created out of necessity has developed with time into a sport that challenges the wind, our sense of balance, and engineering. In competition, ice boats have reached speeds five times that of the wind. The most powerful class, the A Skeeter, reaches speeds of over 160 kilometres per hour. In The Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club (Madison, USA), they explain that these speeds are possible because of the low friction between the runner blades and the ice, as well as the design of the sail, which acts as a vertical wing. For over 100 years, this Wisconsin club has been constructing ice boats for competitions – and for enjoyment. Every Wednesday of the season, an open day is held to welcome those who want to try out sailing on ice. Special two-seater ice boats are used for the novices.
The DN class of ice boat is the most popular. The initials DN are taken from the newspaper Detroit News that sponsored a competition to design an ice boat. This was in the thirties, when ease of construction and ease of transport were the priorities. With an overall length of 3.6 metres and a sail of 5.6 metres, the DN is capable of travelling at 90 kph. A rod is used to control the three blades (one forward, two aft). The boat does not have brakes, and must be turned into the headwind to slow down. The DN class is the type raced in the International DN Yacht Ice Racing Association Regatta, organised by the Kingston Yacht Club in Canada. 100 boats took part in the last regatta. Along with the Madison Regatta, other popular races in the USA are those held in Great Lakes (New Hampshire), Wisconsin, and Western Lakes. For DN Junior class and children’s Ice-Optimist class, competitions are staged regularly on Lake Baikal in Russia.