Welcome to iceboat.org

The Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club is one of the most active iceboat clubs in North America. We’ve been building and racing iceboats for over 100 years in Madison, Wisconsin, USA.

Ice Is Never 100% Safe.

Our ice reports are strictly for iceboat racers. Recreational iceboaters, kite boarders, cross country skiers, and ice fishermen should not rely on our ice reports. We have safety equipment. Do you?

Buy or Sell Your Iceboat

One of the best pages in North America to buy or sell iceboats and their parts. There’s also a complete list of vendors who will supply iceboats, sails, and their components.

Common Questions:

How can I get started? How fast can they go? How much do they cost? Is it safe?

Regatta Watch

Information about the ISA, NIYA, WSSA, Nite, and DN regattas.

Iceboat Classes

Learn about Skeeters, DNs, Stern Steerers, Renegades, Nites, and Ice Optimists.

The Rules.

The purpose of iceboat racing rules is to prevent collisions.

Ice Yacht Clubs

The best way to learn about iceboating and make life long friendships is to join a local club.

Why We Sail.

“If all our ice were glass, slightly wet, and all our air reasonably steady with lifters just where needed, sailing would be perfect. Sometimes we do find this, and it is worth waiting years to have. Meanwhile we must accept the more ordinary ice conditions, ordinary weather and wind, and gracefully accept snow, sometimes for weeks. Our ideal comes from time to time, the Great Maker gives only so much of the very best.” Charles H. Johnson.

Iceboating for Kids

Ice Optimists were created specifically as a youth trainer, designed to be easily built using commonly available materials, and to keep costs to a minimum.

4LIYC Meeting on Zoom: 6:30 PM CST, Dec 8, 2021 More information.
March 2022: The Hard Water Summit, Ft. Peck, Montana More information

BURGEE: Order your 4LIYC Burgee

DN Western Challenge Called ON 3-5 Dec @ Christina

It’s on. Picture from Lake Christina near Ashby, MN n Sunday, November 28, 2021.

Via John Dennis, the Western Challenge is called on for Lake Christina in Ashby, MN December 3 – 5, 2021. Final confirmation will be made on Wednesday, December 1 by 12 PM CT. The Western Challenge is a an informal tune-up fun regatta for DNs.
What: Western Challenge
Date: December 3 – 5, 2021
Where: Lake Christina in Ashby, MN
Lodging: Recommended nearest Battle Lake, Minnesota
Battle Lake Inn and Suites (almost full, no vacancies for Friday night)
102 Glenhaven Dr, Battle Lake, MN 56515

Bonnie Beach Resort
20341 Bonnie Beach Road
Battle Lake, MN 56515
$175 night 3 bedrooms, (sleeps 4) with kitchen

The Hideaway at Xanadu Island
35484 235th St, Battle Lake, MN 56515

The Otter
306 MN-78, Ottertail, MN 56571



Vassar Brewery: The First Iceboat Bar

America’s First Iceboating Bar & Club House

The Adventures of Iceboat Ike at Chucks by Harry Whitehorse

Chuck’s on Geneva, the Southside Ice Yacht Club on Winnebago, and Springer’s on Kegonsa, are a few bars that shape the social fabric of iceboating. After a day of good racing, walk into one of these establishments, and you’ll find boots with creepers scattered around the door, helmets, and coats piled on the pool tables. They are places where racers recount the day’s lap roundings and hash out ideas about finding more speed.

It’s not surprising that America’s first iceboating bar was in Poughkeepsie, New York, acknowledged as the sport’s American birthplace. Though he is often incorrectly cited as being America’s first iceboater, Poughkeepsie resident Oliver Booth and Jacob Buckhout were instrumental in sport’s growth. When Booth, Buckhout, and friends were ready for a cold one, they could have sailed their stern-steers up to the Vassar Brewery on the waterfront, which served as the think tank for early American ice sailing. The brewery also served as the start and finish line for Hudson River regattas.

“The Vassar Brew­ery office was the club house where all the river sportsmen gathered to discuss matters and partake of Mr. Booth’s specially brewed ale. About 1858 the possibilities of the development of the skate-boats was under consideration among the brewery coterie, and experiments of various kinds were tried with steel runners, heavy and light centre timbers and various cuts of sails.”

I’ve stumbled across many odd connections in the sport’s history, and Vassar University is one of them. The name Vassar is familiar because it is associated with the college founded by the brewer, Matthew Vassar. The brewery building no longer exists, but if you are ever in Poughkeepsie, stop by the waterfront park and hoist a cold one to those who started it all.

I am indebted to Archie Call and Henry Bossett for sharing their early iceboating history research with me.

Season Approaches…Montana Calls

The Hard Water Summit Website

Season Approaches…Montana Calls

With the chill in the air and the shallower lakes starting to change form, no doubt many of you are dreaming of the ice sailing season ahead. If you haven’t already, now is the time to mark your calendar for the 2022 Hard Water Summit in Montana, this March. If this event is news to you, check out the details at https://montana.iceboat.org/


The event will take place during one of the first three weeks of March–


March 14-18 Target Week
March 7-11 Earliest Option
March 21-25 Latest Option


As we get closer to these dates and conditions are known, a call will be made. So, keep your schedules loose and be ready to go. We’ll be headed to “The Middle of Nowhere”, from all over the country and other parts of the world. All ice sailors are welcome. There are 73 already registered!


If you’re interested in being on our list for ongoing information, please subscribe by filling out the short survey on our website.


The city of Glasgow, Montana is looking forward to hosting our group with great enthusiasm. So much so, that the Glasgow Tourism Board has awarded us a sizable grant to help make the event spectacular. In addition to epic ice sailing, plans are underway for nightly social events, daily adventures for ice sailors’ guests who prefer other activities, and much more.


If you’re headed to the Great Western Challenge next week, bring your local knowledge questions, as Sean Heavey, Glasgow, Montana resident and ice sailing photographer/videographer extraordinaire will be there. https://www.seanrheavey.com/ Sean is bringing all his hi-tech gear, including his new video-equipped racing drone that is fast enough to keep up with any iceboat. You’ll see from Sean’s website that he is also a storm chaser, so this guy knows how to shoot extreme!


Stay safe everyone and hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving.
Daniel Hearn

New 4LIYC Officers Elected

In 1878, Harper’s Bazaar Magazine recognized Madison’s prominence in the sport in an article with a now famous engraving that depicts ice yachts and the scenic isthmus. We are still here. 

The Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club elections were held Wednesday evening, and our new officers represent every fleet in the club. Daniel Hearn, who sails a DN, C Skeeter, Nite, and Renegade, is our new Commodore. Nite sailor Lars Barber is our new Vice Commodore. Treasurer Jerry Simon will serve another year along with myself as Secretary.

The club extends much gratitude to the previous Commodore Don Anderson and Vice Commodore Tim McCormick for their service.



Canadians, start your engines! DNer Mike Madge inaugurated the ice sailing season in North America on Whitefish Lake near Thunder Bay, Ontario, which often has the longest ice sailing seasons in the world. Video here.

Iceboat in National Sailing Hall of Fame Museum

Visit the musem.

Ever since Buddy Melges’ induction in the first class of 2011, ice boaters have numbered among the elite sailors honored by the National Sailing Hall of Fame (NSHOF). Other hard water inductees include Peter Barrett, Olaf & Peter Harken, Jan & Meade Gougeon, Bill Bensten, Herbert Lawrence Stone (who authored books and articles), Bill Mattison, and Jane Pegel.

The sailing community’s full recognition of the sport of ice yachting has culminated with the inclusion of an iceboat in the new NSHOF museum in Newport, Rhode Island.

When visitors enter the impressive interactive exhibition hall, they will notice six boats hanging overhead from the exposed wooden rafters of the historic former  armory. One of those six is an iceboat representing our community and those who live to “Think Ice.”

The NSHOF asked Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club Nite sailor Don Sanford (the driving force behind Bill Mattison’s induction), myself, and others for an iceboat. The museum had hoped to hang a Class A Skeeter, but the wide plank would have taken up too much space. They chose one that would fit – the most popular iceboat globally, a DN.

Peter Harken asked that the boat not be a “fixer-upper” but a fully fitted racing boat. The NSHOF accepted Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club member Doug Kolner’s offer to donate his complete modern DN.

The DNs natural wood hull and plank, built in a small garage in Monona, Wisconsin, are true to the roots of the DN’s humble beginnings at the Detroit News hobby shop in the 1930s. Doug built the boat using standard DN plans, and it symbolizes all the iceboat builders who enjoy kicking up some dust and mixing epoxy in their garage shops.

Current members of the NSHOF’s influence is evident in the fact that the boat was built using Gougeon brothers epoxy and Harken brothers fittings technology. Doug recognized NSHOF member Bill Mattison and Green Lake Ice Yacht Club’s Joe Norton as the builders who had influenced his iceboat building know-how.

Buy & Sell Page Maintenance

Paul Krueger next door at the Past Champions Iceboat Shop works on a Class A skeeter plank.


iceboat.org’s Buy and Sell page has evolved to keep relevant over the past 23 years. In 2020, by popular demand, we added a “Sold” column on the Buy and Sell page so that you can get an idea of the interest in iceboating. The “Sold” column took up so much space, especially on mobile devices, that I created an archive page where all the previously listed and sold iceboats and components will live. A much shorter “Sold” column will remain on the Buy and Sell page with fewer listings and links to the Sold Archive page.


Sweden FIRST!

Photo: Dideric van RIemsdijk

Sharpen your runners! Breaking news from northern Sweden today. The Swedish ice sailors are first in the world as far as we know to pull the string on the hard-water and open the new season. Congratulations to our Swedish ice sailing friends.

At the Skeeter Corral

Crazy Kenny’s Closeout Corall
Via Daniel Hearn:
Merchandise was flying out the door this weekend at the Past Champions Iceboat Shop. A special invitation was needed from Crazy Kenny himself to gain access to the Closeout Coral, which is hidden behind a secret doorway cleverly disguised with hanging drop cloths. Once inside, new Michigan-based ice sailor, Tim Bellard remarked, “With all this red and white everywhere, I kept looking for the fat man in the velour suit. He never showed, but Christmas definitely came early.” Bellard took off with a 24 foot Sitka Spruce Skeeter wing mast that he purchased for a buddy who had an “unfortunate incident” last year. And Crazy Kenny even threw a sail into the deal and free delivery to the top of Tim’s trailer. Several other unsavory characters from the 4LIYC were around the shop witnessing the selling frenzy, but none was willing to publicly comment. “Maybe if we just stand here next to Kenny acting like nothing is going on, then no one will ask any questions,” suggested Sage PK. Due to their resounding silence, they must have all agreed.

Not to be outdone, Wonky Donny’s Discount Emporium across town was also dealing. He was all out of 10-speed bikes to entice Bellard to close a deal, but he was still able to send him out the door with a classic 4LIYC, red and white Renegade. Rumor has it that said Renegade was also loaded on the 12 ft. utility trailer, including mast and plank, directly adjacent to the Skeeter mast. Fearing that his insurance provider might yank his liability policy, Bellard requested that no pictures be taken of the impressively loaded vehicle. As yet, there have been no reports of flying ice boats on the east bound corridor of I-94, so all equipment must now be safely in their new home somewhere in the hand.

Regatta Dates 2022


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National Iceboat Authority Web Page

4LIYC Race Results

Click for 4LIYC Meeting Dates


  • November 18
  • December 2
  • Elections, Elect Fleet Captains. Vote on ISA & NIYA Agenda Items
  • December 16
  • December 30
  • January 13 Honor Roll Nominations
  • January 27 Deadline for By-Law or Racing Rules Amendment Submission
  • February 10
  • February 24 Business Meeting
  • March 10

Location: Online using the Zoom App Members please email debwhitehorse@iceboat.org for the link.

Time: 6:30 PM


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Lake Access Permits

A year-round permit required for designated launch sites in the City of Madison and Dane County Parks. Locations include:

    • Lake Mendota Warner Park Mendota County Park
    • Lake Monona Tonyawatha Tr. Olin Park
    • Lake Waubesa Goodland Park

Purchase Lake Access Permit Online.


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