Iceboating is not just about the thrill

Published on November 5th, 2018

They’ve been in garages all summer, toiling away at their crafts, preparing for what hopes to be winter of good winds and smooth sailing. They are the iceboaters, and as Deb Whitehorse shares from Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club in Wisconsin, they embrace the quirks of their sport:


4LIYC Commodore Don Anderson called me to talk about something that doesn’t get mentioned enough, which is how the friendships and camaraderie in iceboating are possible because it is such a unique sport. Bill Mattison’s classic line describing the sport, “nothing’s fickler”, can be a feature and not a bug of iceboating. There’s an upside to the fickleness.

He talked about the differences between a soft water and hard water regatta. If conditions aren’t right, ice boaters are freer to get off the lake and explore their regatta destination, making it more enjoyable for everyone.

“Anytime I set up my iceboat at a regatta, getting to sail is a bonus,” notes Anderson. “What makes it fun for me is renewing friendships with others who have this sport in common. The first iceboat ride you take of the season is worth the price of admission (i.e. owning an iceboat) because it is such a thrilling ride. Even if you don’t get another ride, it’s still a good investment.”

Sharing morning donuts on the ice before a day of sailing, grilled brats at lunch, and a few beers at the end of the day with Tom Hyslop’s giant bag of peanuts-in-the-shell makes iceboating a festive sport.

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