The Life of an Iceboat Racer

Published on March 7th, 2017

Don Sanford, Commodore of the International Nite Ice Yacht Association, offers this view of the life of an iceboat racer.

If one was to ask what they remember of the winter of 2016-2017, I guess it would be prudent to say things never quite lined up. The three important variables of iceboat regattas are wind, ice and temps. You need at least two to make a regatta happen.

This season we have been close to 3 for 3 but never enough. The closest we have come perhaps was the International Skeeter Association Championship regatta. We began with lots of wind and hard black ice. We just didn’t end with it.

The Nite Class had the largest participation, fueled by steady growth among newer sailors. While the class stalwarts haven’t participated with the same zeal as the newer members, this is perhaps a good thing as it has gotten more people involved in racing.

With thirteen boats racing, the largest turnout came from the Green Lake fleet from Wisconsin with five boats. It was a slight trek to travel to the venue on Battle Lake in Minnesota but I believe everyone was ready just to get in the car and go sailing.

With competitors showing up late Thursday night or early Friday for day one of racing, there was a bunch of action going on in the pits. The wind was way up and the sliver of ice deemed smoothest for racing was a long way across the lake. As people ventured out to the line, smarter heads prevailed and cancelled racing. It was a wise choice. Plan B saw the bowling commence.

Saturday brought along better conditions with nice temps and softer breezes… sometimes too soft. Pushing and place changes prevailed for three races. The well-attended evening festivities could have been labeled the pre pack-up party. Snow fell all night, and with three inches on the ground for Sunday, the regatta was officially over.

All in all, it was still a great time and Battle Lake will hopefully be one of those locations we visit again in the future… hopefully getting 3 for 3.



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