Iceboat Tech That Never Caught On

Published on August 7th, 2018

Cars have four tires, which have proven necessary to support the space and weight of the car along with providing needed grip on the road. But for iceboaters, the three-runner scheme has been the norm with nearly all having one runner forward and two aft extended outward on a plank.

But in the 1930s and 40s, yachting author J. Julius Fanta must have taken a fancy to the idea of a four-runner iceboat and wrote at least two articles about them.

In a thoroughly detailed article about a four-runner Skeeter developed on Geneva Lake in Yachting Magazine, he predicted “the four-runner iceboat is the coming thing in ice yachting and not a fly-by-night experiment.” In a 1940 Popular Science article, he presented detailed plans for a four-runner stern steerer.

But four-runner iceboats never became popular because they were not an improvement upon a standard three-runner iceboat. Over the years, Fanta has not been alone in seeking to evolve the status quo. With gaps in the year when the ice is soft, click here to see other ideas from those that tinker.

An idea for kids that never caught on was a front-seater junior ice yacht from the 1940s. As described in Mechanix Illustrated, “If you want to make your youngster the envy of every kid on the pond, then build this midget speedster for him.” But now with parents willing to go to great lengths for their kids we have the Ice Optimist. Go figure!



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