Many Miles to the 2014 DN North Americans

From 2014 DN North American’s

This past season’s (2014) DN North Americans originally scheduled for Lake Senachwine near Peru, IL in the Western region ended up 1000+ miles away on Lake Champlain Plattsburg, NY. So goes the great sport of ice boating. It has been eleven years since the class put on a “big dance” (NA or Worlds) in the Eastern region. And what a dance it was, but im getting ahead of how we got there.

Before we hit the road in search of a championship regatta worthy plate, let’s take a look at what we’re looking for. A DN NAs or Worlds site requires a racing area of 1.25 -1.5 miles in all wind directions. This allows for a 1-1.25 mile course, with pits below the start line. Basically if you can fit a 1.5 mile circle on top of a good plate of ice you’re good to go.

New England primary sites include Sebago, and Moosehead Lake in Maine, Lake Winnipesaukee and Sunapee in New Hampshire and Lake Champlain as well as Memphremagog in Vermont. Of course we have plenty of other choices but size as well as local support facilities are both a factors.

Follow along with the relentless folks responsible for scouting the NA venue, Their tireless journey across seeking that perfectly frozen lake brings them 1000’s of miles.  Without their efforts, it would have never taken place.

For purposes of our timeline the first day of scheduled racing will be represented as R 0 and the beginning of our story takes place two weeks prior or R -14. Days designated with an R+1,2,3… represent the days after the (1st) original regatta start.

Eben Whitcomb and myself started the preliminary scouting, with a 750 mile RT drive to Lake Memphremagog and spent the day scouting ice and access locations both in the United States in Newport Vermont, and also several locations in Canada, near Owls head, and in the town of Magog.
Meanwhile in Vermont, Bob Schumacher Bob Dill, Don Brush and Paul Gervais were keeping an eye on Lake Champlain, and David Fortier and others were keeping an eye on Jordan Bay on Sebago Lake. Chad Atkins, who is the hotline coordinator for the NEIYA did a great job of keeping in touch with scouts on all the potential race sites throughout the whole scouting period.

On January 9 Steve Madden and David Fortier drove up to and sailed Sebago Lake on Jordan Bay. Based on their scouting Eben Whitcomb decided to call on the Eastern championships for Sebago Lake on January 11. The weather was expected to be fairly lousy, but he felt it was worth a shot at holding the regatta. Saturday morning when we got there it was raining and there was already a lot of water on the ice.

On Sebago after the favorable report Eben and I spent 4 hours pushing and sailing in light wind, and heavy rain, to further examine the plate of ice. Based on the amount of water on the ice we decided it was not likely that the Eastern’s could be held there and he postponed the event. That evening the lake received 1.5 inches more of rain.

Eben Whitcomb and I drove from Sebago Lake to Memphremegog (again) which was expected to get less rain. We spent Sunday kicksleding and skating near Newport Vermont. It was blowing about 30 miles an hour and we were unable to sail.(it was kind of scary going downwind on the kicksled!) We also identified a potential host hotel and gathering venue in the area.

Meanwhile the Vermont gang was actively looking at Lake Champlain after the rain. Monday, January 13(R -6 days) the IDNIYRA conference call indicated there was very little sailable ice in the Western region, so we redoubled our efforts in New England scouting for ice.

Wednesday, January 15, Eben and I left my house at 4 AM and drove to Burlington Vermont to help the Vermont guys scout ice on Lake Champlain. Eben and I, with advice from Bob Dill scouted and sailed inner and outer mallets Bay, and Bob Schumacher and Doug Merrill scouted the area called the inland Sea. We determined outer mallets Bay had too many drain holes, so we de-rigged our boats drove to the launch area for the inland Sea, and rerigged and sailed there also as the sun was setting. At the same time as the 4 of us were on Lake Champlain, David Fortier drove from Maine and Oliver Moore drove from Rhode Island to Lake Memphremegog and sailed it and confirmed the launch area was still acceptable. Wednesday evening during the IDNIYRA conference call, we had identified two viable sailing sites in the Eastern region. At the same time Andre Baby had identified a good sailing site on the St. Lawrence seaway in Montréal. In the Western region the only salable ice was Lake Senachwine near Peru, Illinois. The decision was made to delay the location decision until Thursday evening, with a tentative primary site of Lake Senachwine and a backup site in Montréal. Bob Schumacher and his wife were kind enough to put Eben and myself up overnight. Thursday morning Eben and I drove up to Montréal and sailed at Lac St. Louis with Andre and Jasick.

Thursday night the governing committee decided to call the 2014 N. Americans on for Peru, Illinois, despite a forecast calling for 2 to 4 inches of snow on Saturday.

Eben and I left Montréal at 4 AM on Friday bound for Illinois. We got there around 10 PM on Friday and crashed out at the hotel.

Saturday we got up and left the hotel around 10 AM drove down to the race site and started rigging our boats, it was already starting to snow. By the time we were ready to sail there was at least 4 inch drifts and building. Most boats did not even bother to set up. We packed our boats up put them back in the trailer and drove back to the hotel as both of us thought we would not be able to race at that location. Now the race committee was stuck with 80 competitors in Illinois, with no sailable ice in the Western region. The decision was made to hold everybody at the host hotel, until a new location could be found.

Ice checkers were dispatched to possible locations at Pymatuning Reservoir on the Pennsylvania Ohio and Lake Clinton in Illinois.
Early Sunday morning Bob Schumacher Don Brush and Louise Racine drove eight hours straight through to Pymatuning. They were met by DN racer Ben Shavits, who already had his boat rigged and waiting. Bob and Don Brush sailed Pymatuning and concluded the snowdrifts were too high for fair racing.

That same day sailors drove one and a half hours south to evaluate Lake Clinton a small lake in IL This venture did not turn pan out.

Andre Baby had stayed behind in Montréal and had been sailing every day. He was reporting excellent snow ice. With no closer options available, Sunday night the regatta was officially moved to Montréal.

Eben and I left Sunday evening for Montréal. We drove till about midnight and stayed in a hotel just before the Canadian border at Sarnia.

The next morning we started driving around 7:30 AM and on the custom line when we got the word from Andre Baby that Montréal had received two inches of snow the night before and it had drifted making it unsailable. Eben and I crossed the border, had a great breakfast and scouted the western shore of Lake St. Clair in Canada. We were in the area anyway but found it fit only for snowmobile racing.

Meanwhile, Jim Theiler and Oliver Moore stopped and scouted Hamilton Ontario, desperately looking for a good race site.

Eben and I then spent the day at a truck stop in the boonies of Canada on the phone talking to various people across the East looking for ice. We were very fortunate that Louise Racine had stopped in Plattsburgh NY to visit with her mother, on her way back and called in early Monday morning to say that the Plattsburgh side of Lake Champlain was snow free. This was the best news we had had in a few days and experienced eyes needed to evaluate conditions.

Bob Schumacher and Don Brush had driven straight through back to Vermont the night before. Bob then drove to Plattsburgh Vermont with Bob Dill. There they met Louise, as well as Rich Crucett and friend that were driving from Long Island to Montréal. Collectively they sailed and found a suitable plate of ice on Cumberland Bay north of Plattsburgh New York.

Remarkably just ten hours after being snowed out in Montréal, we had already found an alternative site. The DN North Americans were moved to Plattsburgh and called on for Cumberland Bay, with racing to start Thursday morning, about 45 boats made the drive from Illinois.

The New England gang spent Tuesday and Wednesday sailing the site in Cumberland Bay. There was some snow on the site, and it was brutally cold. By late Wednesday the drifts were getting very stiff and Styrofoam like. With lighter winds expected for Thursday we were getting nervous about Cumberland Bay.

Bob Dill had crossed the ferry from the Vermont side and had indicated that there was a new plate of black ice in Plattsburgh Bay itself.

Thursday morning four sailors from New England (Chad, Oliver, Don Brush, Eric), plus Andre Baby scouted the new plate in Plattsburgh Bay. Racing was delayed that morning anyway due to extremely low temperatures.

Plattsburgh bay had beautiful black ice with an interesting layer of Hoar Frost on top. After pulling some strings we received permission from the City of Plattsburgh to launch at the public pier. We moved the boats from Cumberland Bay to Plattsburgh bay and racing got underway with the silver fleet qualifier just before dusk. Racing had finally started!

Friday we had a great day of racing and ended the day with four races in each fleet. By the last race it was blowing over 20 with lots of spin outs and lead changes, very exciting racing!

Saturday morning we got up, but the race committee had decided that due to wind conditions the North Americans was finished. After the award ceremony, we went down to the ice to de-rig our boats, the wind was howling through the rigging. A wise call by the race committee. It was nice to have a short five hour drive home after the regatta.

And that folks is what it takes to find ice for a big event. I was extremely proud of how hard everybody in the East worked to make this happen. A big round of applause goes to all the sailors who helped make this happen and especially to Eben Whitcomb, the IDNIYRA Eastern Rear Commodore.

Guess what? Next year we get to do it all again. The Eastern region in conjunction with the Canadian region will host the 2015 DN World championship January 25-30th. It’s going to take a herculean effort by a lot of people to pull this off. Join me, Eben and the rest of the DN, New England and Canadian ice boating community in helping to put on a world class international ice boating event. It all starts with ice.  Hope to see you all there.

Eric Anderson
US 5193

A Season in Front of Us

With shorter days and cooler nights we are all thinking about ice boating and the miles of black ice we hope to find this winter. Just as there are a few months till we sail again, a number of things MUST happen and individual efforts MUST take place before groups of pilots can safely congregate and sail.

Most of you know what occurs prior to setting up your boat in the pits and pushing off toward a nice plate.

Someone watched as the lakeside trees shed their leaves.

All manner of boat building advice and help is freely given.

Boats and equipment is bought, sold, traded and loaned by fellow sailors prior to first ice.

Runners are sharpened individually and en mass by skilled sanding volunteers.

Someone watched as fog and mists wafted over the body of water in the early morning hours.

Eyes were on the lake while morning frosts crept toward the water from the shore.

People gazed upon the first mirror black ice to skim out from shore.

Occasionally taking the long way to work or home to check on ice conditions.

One or more people poked at the new ice with a stick even though they know

Swung blunt instruments, a wise man from Rockport swears by the blunt end of an axe, and drilled test holes.

Talked to ice fisherman who are generally happy to break their solitude for a conversation about fish and ice.

Scouted off shore with skates, or sailing carefully stopping periodically to check grade and thickness.

People reporting back whether positive or negative. Insufficient ice or unsafe conditions change a bodies history plays an important role for future safe sailing.

Who where those someones? Who were those eyes? Who spent countless hours helping to others get ready to sail? Who communicated observations so that others would benefit?

The answer is simple. Heed the call. Members of the NEIYA. Please remember this when asked to contribute time, knowledge and skills toward club activities. Ice may form all by itself but it’s a team effort to bring people a group to the ice.

To follow is a first hand account by former Commodore Eric Anderson on the herculean efforts that he and others made to find (big) ice for last year’s DN North Americans. Eric thanks for all your contributions over the years.

Ready to help out? Contact me or any of the other officers

As we come into season let’s all sail fast, sail safe and think ice,

John Stanton
NEIYA Secretary
508-377-6100 aka the hotline

P.S. Our annual meeting, swap and lunch are ON for October 25th Westborough, MA Knights of Columbus Hall. More on that shortly.

Spotted At The Speedway…

Two astute observers (your Commodore and Steve Duhamel) saw this car at the Seekonk Speedway last night- Could it be that DN ace Ron Sherry has taken to the pavement in search of summer speed? Obviously the number and paint scheme match too well to be a mere coincidence. Ron denies it but take it from me, these Midwestern iceboaters will stop at nothing to get an edge…

Woodenboat show Opening Day

NEITH 1907 Herreshoff sloop

NEITH 1907 Herreshoff sloop

The sailing vessel Neith a 1907 Herreshoff sloop newly restored by Taylor & Snediker Woodworking and looked after by our Commodore Captain “T” sits tied up and awaiting your visit.

For those who have never been to the woodenboat show there are dozens of fine wooden yachts to fawn over as well as 100’s of woodcraft and nautical vendors all in one place. And all the activities that Historic Mystic Seaport usually has to offer.



Don’t miss out on sailing one of the classic cat boats or row out on the Mystic River in a dory. Could there be some impromptu match racing to the Mystic River Bridge? Maybe…

Gervais_live_oakSee what’s left of the Gervais Live Oak Tree. Any relation to a VT ice boater we know? You will have to ask him.

The event goes on all weekend, starting today.  T will be aboard or close by the Neith all weekend ready to give tours


See you there on Saturday.

John Stanton
NEIYA Secretary
Cell 203-539-1891


Hello All-

Just a reminder that the WoodenBoat Show at Mystic, CT will be this weekend at Mystic Seaport. A discount on tickets will be available for NEIYA members- Come and check it out! Look for your Commodore aboard the S/V NEITH….

I’ll be on hand all weekend to hand the tickets over the fence- Come to the show, find a good parking spot, and give me a call at 401-258-6230 and I’ll meet you out front. Looking forward to seeing you!

Here is the link to the show- looks like there will be some serious eye-candy there….


James “T” Thieler
12 Channing St.
Newport, RI 02840

401 258 6230

Wooden Boat Show Ticket Discount

Hello All- Hope everyone is making it through the summer OK!

For those of you who have an interest in classic yachts of all types be sure to check out the WoodenBoat Show at Mystic Seaport from June 27-29. There will be enough slick woodwork there to make anyone drool….

Your commodore will be there fawning over the mighty NEITH, the newly restored 1907 Herreshoff sloop I look after- come and say hello- wear your helmet so I’ll recognize you!

We have arranged a discount on tickets for NEIYA members. This was John Stanton’s idea (buy him a cold one sometime) and made possible by the shop that did the refit on NEITH; a great shop called Taylor & Snediker Woodworking.

If you want to attend and want a discounted ticket email me at and I’ll send you the secret instructions…. Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Website here:

The WoodenBoat Show at Mystic Seaport

The WoodenBoat Show at Mystic SeaportContact Us | WoodenBoat Home | WoodenBoat Store | WoodenBoat School | Mystic Seaport The most dynamic wooden boat show in the country, with the premier American maritime museum Mystic Seaport.
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James “T” Thieler

How It All Began….

“And you may ask yourself: Well? How did I get here?” David Byrne, “Once In A Lifetime”

How did we get started with all of this iceboating insanity anyway? As best as anyone can tell it was the Dutch who took a break from carving shoes one winter and threw some steel (or something) under their workboats so they could play and maybe keep working when things were frozen in.

The Dutch painter Hendrick Avercamp painted scenes of people skating, playing hockey, and generally goofing off on the ice in the early 1600’s. Iceboats are clearly seen in the background of some.

Not too much of a stretch to think that some kind of wind-powered craft was cruising over a frozen lake or bay long before that…. One can only wonder- did a group of Neanderthals ever discuss runner alignment methods? Probably.

But if daydreaming isn’t your thing have a look at the video below- It is some great footage of some modern-day Cloggies sailing some boats that would not have looked out of place in 1610. Very cool. Thanks to the Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club site for getting me thinking about this stuff….

Ice yachting with “Poolvos III” on the “Westeinderplassen”, Netherlands in HD


James “T” Thieler
12 Channing St.
Newport, RI 02840

401 258 6230

Memorial Day

It’s Memorial Day Folks…. hope all are well and enjoying the holiday-

Don’t forget to spend a moment to consider the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the Armed Forces, whether you live in the USA or elsewhere.


James “T” Thieler
12 Channing St.
Newport, RI 02840

401 258 6230

DN European Champs Video

Hey Folks- Here is a little taste of what went on at the DN European Champs in Haapsalu a few months back-

Hope everyone is having a good spring and that preparation is under way for the upcoming season! T

Ice Yachting – the DN European Championships

image Ice Yachting – the DN European Championships
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James “T” Thieler
12 Channing St.
Newport, RI 02840

401 258 6230

Winter Documentary….

Hello All- The gang in Madison, WI had a film crew embedded over the winter- have a look at their season in film- Very well done and featuring our own Chad Atkins and Eben Whitcomb at key points….

I laughed! I cried! I cheered out loud!! Two thumbs up!!

Iceboat documentary FINAL CUT

image Iceboat documentary FINAL CUT
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James “T” Thieler
12 Channing St.
Newport, RI 02840

401 258 6230

Spring Clinic Report

Good turnout for the Spring Clinic and Hang-Out session!

If you weren’t there trust me, you missed a doozy…. about 100 people showed up along with a generous supply of spirits…. A dozen masts were measured, four were built, and five were raffled off! Congrats winners!!

Sadly, things got ugly when a few well-oiled attendees started the eternal Red Sox vs Yankees debate and what can only be described as a riot ensued. Somehow the normally placid Maine contingent not only got involved but came out on top of the whole melee. Bucholz in particular was like a freaking ninja. Who knew? It was awesome. Most of us made it out before the cops showed up. No charges were filed and the injuries were mostly minor.

OK, I’m exaggerating a little…. And maybe that last paragraph was pure fiction. Just wanted to see if y’all were paying attention.

Bad jokes aside I’d say about 30 people made it in and out of the shop during the day (Special prize to Leo Healy for showing up as Jeff was kicking us out!). We had people from Maine to LI to CT, new faces and grizzled ice veterans, and a good time was had by all! Not a bad turnout for an event that was more or less spur-of-the-moment. Hopefully we can build on this for next spring.

Jeff’s shop is surreal- carbon steering wheels and boat parts are scattered about, various rudders and posts are underway here and there, iceboat parts are visible here and there, giant milling machines are grinding away at precision molds and parts, and the big carbon thing on the floor that you just tripped over is a daggerboard for a 65 foot performance catamaran. The board is 17 ft long. WOW. Even the stuff in the scrap pile is cool! Great place for a bunch of gear heads to gather….

We were able to bend and measure a few rigs and see what people are using, and all kinds of talk was talked about building and repairing and any number of other topics. But the biggest crowd surrounded CSI rock star technician Tom, who was laying up a genuine CSI mast. He wasn’t phased by the prying eyes and was patient with all of our questions- Many thanks for the demo Tom! All were impressed by the skill and care that goes into these rigs. If you’ve ever seen or sailed one it is obvious.

Many thanks to Jeff Kent for providing the venue and Steve Duhamel for the coolers and ice- And thanks to everyone who made the trek! Hope everyone has a great summer and looking forward to seeing everyone at the Swap Meet… It’s practically right around the corner!


James “T” Thieler
12 Channing St.
Newport, RI 02840

401 258 6230


Hey Folks- Should have a good crowd tomorrow at CSI for the Gathering Of The Ice Heads….

Will have authorities on hand to discuss the following and then some:

Getting Started:
-If you are just getting started or want to get going next year there will be several people there who can help you get an idea of the gear and mind-set you’ll need! We’d love to see some new faces-

Boat Building And Repair: Steve Duhamel, Bill Bucholz, Oliver Moore, Jeff Kent
-Like it’s hard to get a bunch of iceboaters talking about boat building….

DN Mast Construction: Jeff will have one of his technicians building a CSI DN rig during the event- Very interesting to see how these things get put together- see it first hand!!
-There are people who would KILL to see how these rigs get made….

Mast Measuring:
-Bring your mast (DN or whatever you have) and we will be set up to deflect it and get some data on it’s bend characteristics- see how your rig compares to the ones the best sailors in the world use!

Runner Aligning:
-Your Commodore will be demonstrating how the Midwestern hot-shots line up their runners…. Easy and accurate!

Tales from Europe:
-The three US representatives from New England will be sharing all the stories from our Europe trip that we couldn’t put on the website…. You may be surprised at how do-able a Europe trip can be!

Race Tactics:
-Jeff, Oliver,T, and whoever else will be discussing race tactics…. Good stuff to learn for racing and cruising alike!

So come one come all to CSI tomorrow from 1-5PM and join the fun! Bring whatever you might be thirsty for-

Scroll down for more details- see you all tomorrow!!

Think Ice! T

James “T” Thieler
12 Channing St.
Newport, RI 02840

401 258 6230

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