Mid Summer Safety Message


Spotted this vessel with a very winter themed name last night at Cedar Point Yacht Club in Westport, CT. It was a hot night, really hot, but the name cooled me right down and long to be back on a big (thick) plate of ice.

It’s never too early to remind everyone that there is Thin Ice somewhere. On July 29th that would be tied up to a slip in Westport, CT.

Think Ice and enjoy the rest of the summer,

John Stanton
NEIYA Vice Commodore


Hello All….

Lots of talk about sailing speed lately. No question soft-water boats are going faster and faster–foils, wings, lighter structures, and endless design innovations are getting normal boats up to some impressive speeds. And impressive budgets. Which got me thinking about the price of speed. Where is the value? Lloyd Roberts touched on this subject in the phenomenal book “THINK ICE!” and I’d like to elaborate a little…. Read on, this is brilliant.

I just saw a video from the A-Class Catamaran North Americans down in Florida. Veteran A-Cat and DN competitor Ben Hall was interviewed and talked about how the A-Cat was the closest thing to a DN he could find, great speed per dollar spent and so forth. He made some great points and is certainly qualified to speak on the subject! The bottom line was that you can get into that class with an older boat on the cheap side, say $9-10K. If you want to go high end and play with the big boys the budget gets up to around $30K; I think a foiling Moth dinghy costs about the same for a top of the line model. How fast do these things go? Let’s be generous and say they max out at around 30 kts. I think that’s realistic and it makes the math easy if we want to figure out how much we are gonna fork over for each knot of speed: $1,000 per knot. Hmmm….

What about keelboats? Forget it. The things have lead attached, for Christ’s sake. And lots of crew to feed and clothe and post bail for after you’ve picked up the bar tab. Now and again a modern sport boat will get into the 20kt range at a price of I-have-no-freaking-idea. Let’s say $200,000 for a hot 30 footer that will red-line at 25kts downwind right before the bow plows into a wave and the kite blows up. By my calculations we are up to $8,000 per knot. Ouch.

Wanna race a big TP52 or maxi yacht? Or do a major campaign–build the boat, crew it, ship it from regatta to regatta, plane tickets and hotel rooms for everyone, meals, housing, super-cool crew gear, practice sails, racing sails, new sails, modified sails, delivery sails, old sails, and more stuff we can’t even comprehend– you’re gonna want a big sponsor because the budget is going to have more than one comma in it. As fast as your boat might be your knot/dollar ratio is going to plummet. I don’t have solid data on this but let’s say your TP52 campaign for the year is gonna set you back 2 mil. The racing will be great and the boat will hit 25kts at some point if there is breeze and you’re surfing down a nice wave (but you’ll probably be in the Med and it’s usually pretty light there) and for that one shining moment your kt/dollar ratio will spike at $80,000. When the boat falls off that wave and slows down to ten knots that’s going to get worse really fast….

And now to the big time…. The last America’s Cup cost Larry Ellison $150 million that he admitted to. ‘Fess up gang, we all watched it and when the commentators went ape-shit and raved about the boats “flying at almost 40 knots!” we all gave ourselves a smug pat on the back and felt pretty bad-ass because when our iceboat is going 40kts the day is only beginning to get interesting. Don’t get me wrong, those boats are impressive and I’m too chicken to sail one in anything less than a drifter and, even then, only with close adult supervision. But, Jesus H. Tap-Dancing Christ, we are up to about $3,750,000/knot. And it just occurred to me that although he wrote the checks Larry didn’t get to sail on the boat.

I’m not slamming A-Cats, Moths, keelboats or even big multihulls. Even though windsurfers and kiteboards are relatively cheap the top end speed is a bit limited…. The design, development, build detail and performance of all these boats is equal to or beyond anything we are up to in the hard-water world. In a perfect universe I’d have Larry Ellison money and an airplane hangar full of A-Cats, Moths, and DN’s for my enjoyment. I earn my daily bread sailing a 54 footer that weighs over 21 tons. At nine knots the boat is loaded waaaayyyy the hell up and drags half the Atlantic Ocean along behind it. And it’s AWESOME. All of these boats are absolutely amazing.

But the hottest soft water boat there is can’t hold a candle to even the weakest piece of junk that rides on skates. My first iceboat is a 1962 DN from Maryland with a spruce rig and rodent-damaged sail (chewed on here, pee’ed on there…) Paid less than $700 for it and I’ve hit 50kts several times with it, which puts me in the $14/kt range. Which is $3,749,986/kt better than Larry Ellison- Eat your heart out Larry!! Look at your own iceboat budget and do your own math if you haven’t already, you’ll be glad you did.

No matter what the budget or the speed just be glad that we can go out and get a Lockley Skimmer or an ancient DN or a CheapSkate or any blade-borne contraption and get on the best side of that knots-per-dollar ratio there is!

Think Ice!

James “T” Thieler DN US 5224


Hello All-

Way back in May when the Volvo Ocean Race came to RI our own Bill Converse was on the scene. You may know that in addition to being a DN campaigner, car builder and musician he is also quite a photographer.

He did not have access to a spectator boat for the Volvo stopover but he must have had a telephoto lens worthy of the most intrusive Hollywood paparazzi- check out the following photos to see what I mean!

Many thanks Bill- Well done!

Think Ice!! T

James “T” Thieler

From Way Out West

Mike Bloom sends this little shot in from way out west in Minnesota. Not sure when, where or how he stumbled on it but he says it’s a sign that this winter will be a good one for the hard-water crowd!

Winter is in the air gang…. Five months to ice…..



Hey Gang…. Looks like the one and only Meade Gougeon has emerged from the swamps of Florida to check out the Maritime Museum in St. Micheals, MD.

Meade, along with his brother Jan, has racked up a ton of miles in the DN over the years and has a pretty good collection of silver to show for it (including NA champs in ’80 and ’97). When they weren’t ripping up the DN circuit they were busy building and sailing an array of soft water craft that staggers the imagination. Monohulls, multihulls, motorboats, small craft, and maybe even aircraft- you name it.

Oh yeah, they also brought adhesive to the masses with this stuff you may have heard of called WEST System Epoxy. The glue that holds the iceboat world together- literally!

Recently Meade has gotten away from racing DN’s to battle mangroves, sharks, alligators and insects by participating in the Everglades Challenge, this crazy small boat race down at the south end of Florida. Makes a day on the ice sound like a walk in the park….

My father bumped into him recently at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s, MD and they had a great time shooting the shit about all of the above- Glad to hear Meade is out and about and was able to outrun the ‘gators and visit Maryland- We all say hello!

See the photo- that’s Meade on the left in the red shirt and of course his trademark cap!


Greetings Everyone-

Looks like the Fourth of July has rolled around again- time for cookouts, fireworks, parties, and a long weekend.

Let’s not forget everything it took to create this country in the first place. Take a moment to appreciate all the work and sacrifices made long ago by those who actually had the guts to tell The King, in writing, to go suck it.

Also keep in mind that we are less than six months from sailing on some nice, fresh, clean ice. The cool summer bodes well for the coming season…. Get cracking on that iceboat work list!

Best, T. Thieler

Open Wheel Wednesday Postponed Till Thursday 7/2

Just like ice boating, race cars are subject to the weather. See you there Tomorrow.

Race Postponed till Thursday July 2


It was great to see The Rocket stern-steerer at the Mystic boat show- congrats to Nels Lybeck for getting her there- she made quite an impression!

In other news the Indy 500 has come and gone for the year and it ain’t ice season yet so that means it’s time for Open Wheel Wednesday at the Seekonk Speedway!

Yes, July 1 (this Wednesday) is Open Wheel Wednesday at Seekonk Speedway- I’ve gone a few times and it’s a blast! Put it on your calendar!

Fast cars. Loud noise. Close racing. Crashes. Food. Beer. And that’s just on the drive to the track. The racing is REALLY cool! And all pretty cheap- Great way to get away from boats and water for a night and indulge your inner motorhead. Would be great to see a bunch of NEIYA people there!

More info on the Seekonk Speedway site- call me if you want to carpool from Newport-

Did I mention it’s loud? It is… Ear plugs aren’t a bad idea- See you all there!

James “T” Thieler

Big Ice in June – Wooden Boat Show ON NOW!


The Wooden Boat Show at Mystic Seaport starts today and runs through the weekend (6/26-28). If you have attended before, I don’t have to tell you why you need to go back.

Besides the usual beautiful new and old finely crafted vessels the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club have brought their fully restored classic stern steerer Rocket (all 50 feet of her) to the Wooden Boat Show at Mystic Seaport. John Sperr of the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club put together a great page detailing some of Rocket’s restoration and shake down cruise on the Hudson in 2014.  She will be on display in the “I Built it Myself” area and easily stick out from and dwarf the smaller home built crafts.

She was last seen on ice during her maiden sail on the Hudson in 2014 and again this past season on home ice. If you missed either of these opportunities you must come. As we all know, ice can be fickle and a craft her size requires big and thick ice, so this weekend is your best opportunity for a sure viewing. Hope to see you there.

Summer and fall will burn hot for a few months but as always THINK ICE!

John Stanton
NEIYA Vice Commodore


Hey Gang-

July 1 is Open Wheel Wednesday at Seekonk Speedway- I’ve gone a few times and it’s a blast- Put it on your calendar! Would be great to see a bunch of NEIYA’ers there- Duhamel and Converse have been going for years and when they finally dragged me up there I was hooked….

Fast cars. Loud noise. Close racing. Screaming and yelling. Crashes. Food. Beer. And that’s just on the drive to the track. The racing is REALLY cool!

Great way to get away from boats and work for a night and indulge your inner motorhead. If anyone wants to carpool from RI let me know!

More info on the Seekonk Speedway site-

James “T” Thieler

Old Boats, New Rudders….

I forgot to mention that both of these 12 Meters are equipped with rudders, spinnaker poles and spreaders from a company in Hingham, MA called Composite Solutions Inc. It’s run by a guy named Jeff Kent who has sailed iceboats a little over the years….. Maybe more than a little- He actually won the DN Gold Cup in 1993 and has been at the bleeding edge of DN development ever since.

CSI has built all kinds of stuff for hot race boats- including keel wings for the IACC boat AmericaOne and the boom that Alinghi used to win the America’s Cup final a few matches back. The rudders and daggerboards for PUMA in the last Volvo Ocean Race came out of this shop as well as a range of carbon keel fins, bow sprits, daggerboard cases, and a ton of other parts. If you’d made it to the last open house there you’d have seen a pair of 18 foot long daggerboards taking shape. Make a point of getting to the next one, who knows what you’ll see!

In addition to all that Jeff makes some of the best DN hulls, spars, planks, and runner bodies you’ll ever lay eyes on. If you need something made of carbon give him a shout!

Think Ice, T

Where Boats Go….

Hey Folks- Saw some cool boats from back in the day at the Hinckley Shipyard in RI the other day- Thought I’d share….

Old race boats end up in a lot of places, often rotting away in the far corner of the boatyard but these are mostly still active-

First photo is Il Moro di Venezia and America3, the two America’s Cup finalists from 1992. They’ve been getting shuffled around the yard for years, not sure why as they don’t sail any more.

The next is KZ-5, New Zealand’s first 12 Meter from the 1987 America’s Cup. Still raced today- This was the first glass 12, it caused a big stir. Dennis Conner accused the Kiwis of cheating…. This was one of their two early boats, they sailed a development of this one in the trials, went undefeated except for one loss, and then Conner on Stars and Stripes handed their ass to them in the challenger final.

The blue one is Victory ’83, twelve meter from the ’80 and ’83 Cup. Beat Australia II at least once but never made the final. Still racing, very well developed and maintained.

Lastly the big red Kialoa- One of several IOR maxi yachts (yes, I said “several IOR maxi yachts”) built for Jim Kilroy during the ’60’s, ’70’s, and ’80’s. I think this is number five, big aluminum beast, I think they raced with almost thirty crew. Wild.

Hope all are enjoying the summer and thinking ice… T

James “T” Thieler12 Channing St.
Newport, RI. 02840

401 258 6230

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