Monday, December 3, 2007

Ice boating

When I first saw an ice boat, I knew that it was something that I have to try some day, and I really want to try it. I first became aware of it when I lived in Plymouth, Minnesota and I saw these little boats sailing around really fast on top of frozen Lake Minnetonka. Ice boats/ice yachts have been around since the 1600's in Europe. In 1861 the first ice boat races were held in the USA and modern ice boats can go over 50mph, with a few boat designs caplable of going over 100mph.

Ice boats have a hull, a sail, and three skates or runners on the bottom of the boat, and it is mostly a hobby sport. Most ice boats are constructed by the people who use them. Some ice boats can be purchased for a couple of thousand dollars, with the nicer ones costing several thousand dollars, and the championship winning ones costing many tens of thousands of dollars.

There are six different classes of ice boats, the DN (named after the Detroit News), Nite, Renegade, Skeeter, Stern Steerers, and the Monotype-XV. The DN is the most popular model, holds one person, can have up to 60 square feet of sail, and is popular in the USA, much of Europe, and Russia. The Nite seats two people side by side and can have up to 67 square feet of sail. I'm not sure what makes the Renegade different from the DN, but it can have up to 67 square feet of sail. The Skeeter class boats are like formula 1 race cars, as most of the newest R&D and technology goes into these, and they can have up to 75 square feet of sail. The stern steerers are most often historical boats. They are divided into three classes A (over 600 square feet of sail), B (450 to 600 square feet of sail), and C (350 to 450 square feet of sail. The Monotype-XV is a European model that seats two people and is commonly raced in Europe.

The International DN Ice Yacht Racing Association (IDNIYRA) holds their Gold Cup World Championship on February 18-20, 2008 in the central lakes region of North America. It seems the regatta location is announced shortly before the event begins because the ice conditions cannot be predicted. Ice boating seems unusual in that the World Championship is not the culminating event of the sport's brief annual timespan because there are still other smaller regattas later in the season. Local ice boat clubs hold different regattas and are the best place to go to learn how to ice boat.

International DN Ice Yacht Racing Association

Useful site on ice boating

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