Being the sparkplug to promote activity

Published on March 23rd, 2020

As certain as the sun will rise, so does the local enthusiast build participation in the sport. Most prevalent in one design classes, these people are the conduit to getting people on the water. In this report by James Thieler, he spotlights one of the doers in iceboating:


You may think Mike Madge is “that guy out in Thunder Bay, Ontario who seems to get on the ice before everyone else on the planet every year,” and mostly you’re right.

Mike loves sailing iceboats and is looking to get some more people involved by acquiring a loaner boat for friends and potential new iceboaters to sail. To that end he’s picked up a vintage DN (early 1960s maybe?) and is prepping it for newbie use.

His plan is to bring it to the ice and let anyone who is interested try it out and hopefully get bitten by the bug! Some of us have been doing things like this for a while.

It’s nice to have the ability to give people the chance to take spin in a boat that is fast enough to provide some thrills yet not so twitchy as to cause a fright! And of course, it is less nerve wracking to send a newbie flying across the lake in a boat that is NOT your expensive, delicate, highly tuned and fawn-ed over yacht of your dreams!

I spend the summer collecting email address and compiling a mailing list of people who want to try an iceboat, and then I nag them all like crazy over the winter. All I have to do during the season is send one email to all of them saying “Head to Lake X, there’s good ice and a boat all ready for you!” We seem to get a few takers every season. Good to share the fun!

For my loaner boat I added a designated helmet and goggles, ice picks, creepers, and mittens to make that first ride a little more comfortable.

If you want to help grow the sport, this is a great way. Follow Mike’s lead and pick up and old beater for folks to try out. Check the New England Ice Yacht Association classifieds; there’s all kinds of craft available for really good prices.

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