Want to Try Ice Boating? It’s all here. Click to start
The regatta site decision has been postponed for 24 hours because of unsettled weather conditions in all regions. Thank you for your patience. Next update Friday, January 18 by 10 PM EST.
Our Cruising Chair Bill Buchholz is thinking that there just may be a Winni Hardway attempt coming up. He reports that Lee Spiller plans to round up a scouting team on Sunday to check the lake for Hard Way possibilities. Skate sailors have been touring the lake recently and report pretty good conditions, with only one major reef.Refresh your memories on the rules and the fun from past runs. We’ll update the minute we get the report.
Stay tuned for the smooth and refreeze taking place all over the North East. Don’t forget to report into the group ice reports.
I am very happy to announce that the NEIYA picked up coverage in the Jan/Feb issue of Windcheck Sailing Magazine. And we even got the cover!
Thanks to T for authoring the piece along with Bill Converse, Mike Acebo, Cathy Firmbach and Joe Stanton (cover) via Deb Whitehorse for contributing last minute pictures. Note, the cover shot was incorrectly attributed to me and not Joe Stanton, not a known relative.
Please visit Windcheck http://www.windcheckmagazine.com/winter_the_most_exciting_sailing_season for the properly formatted article and sign up for their newsletter and or leave some comments below. Let them know we are out here as we want to be sure they will help promote our great sport in the future.
I am hearing that Big AF Zamboni rolling over every local body of water ready to lay bear the product of many sub freezing days and nights. See you on the ice.
NEIYA Vice Commodore
Winter: The Most Exciting Sailing Season
Get hooked on iceboating!
By James “T” Thieler
We all love the summer sailing season, that’s for sure. Spring and fall aren’t bad, either. A nice leisurely sail is good, a fast reach is even better, and for some of us a blazing run in big breeze with the kite up and spray flying is the ultimate. But what to do when winter arrives and you crave yet more speed and more sailing? How to get the fix when the snow is on the ground and the boat is on the hard? Good news is you can fix both problems by going iceboating!
The 12-foot DN is the world’s most popular iceboat. © Cathy Firmbach
You’ve seen the pictures, you’ve heard some stories…Legends and myths about sailors flying down the Hudson River, passing the high speed trains along the riverbank…South Bay Scooters out on Long Island jumping over cracks and gaps in the ice to rescue stranded hunters and fishermen…Hardcore racers driving all over the continent looking for a regatta site…Sailors venturing deep into the heart of Russia to carve tracks into a frozen Lake Baikal…Well, mostly they are true but there is plenty of speed and fun to be had closer to home as well!
Here in New England, the hard-water sailing season gets going between Christmas and New Years, usually on lakes in central Massachusetts and northern Connecticut. Those of us further north find ice in Maine and just over the border in Canada. Later in the season, big ice can be found all over the area as the large lakes cool off and freeze over.
Iceboat racers, who wear spiked shoes for traction during running starts, swap stories between races. © Bill Converse
Boats are prepped, hauled out of garages and, once the ice is deemed safe, sailed across it at speeds most soft water sailors never dream of and sometimes refuse to believe! There is no thrill like it – unlike a soft water boat, iceboats have almost no drag to contend with so the acceleration is quick and the top end is waaaaay up there. Speed moves the apparent wind forward and increases the velocity and makes the boat go faster and faster. Nothing like going 25 knots in 5 knots of breeze!
DN racers line up for a start. © Cathy Firmbach
There are many types of hard-water craft of all shapes and sizes: Single seaters, two-seaters, cruising boats, racing boats, antiques, wood, metal, cheap, pricey…Something for everyone! They all involve some sort of frame or fuselage, a set of three runners (or “skates” as we say in New England), a plank or crossbeam to mount skates on, and of course a mast and sail. For the budget-conscious there is the CheapSkate, basically a frame built from 2 X 4s with a Sunfish rig and cut up bed frames for skates. At the other end of the spectrum is the E-Class Skeeter. Picture an F-15 fighter plane with a mast and sail and you get the idea.
In between there are several other designs to choose from: Smaller Skeeters, Lockley Skimmers, Whizzes, the ubiquitous DN class, and the Ice Opti for the kids, which is basically a shrunk-down DN with an Optimist rig. Any one of them has a knots-per-dollar ratio that far exceeds any soft water boat you can think of!
Any of these will get you whooping and hollering during a fast cruise around the lake. If you want to race (or if you are looking for a good starter boat) the DN Class is the way to go. The boats are about 12 feet long, easily car-topped or trailered, and relatively cheap. They can be tuned to accommodate a wide range of skipper weights and sailing styles. There are plenty of used DNs and gear available, as well as an active class association and a great regatta circuit, and even a mentoring program for new sailors. There are local, regional, national and world championships every year, so you can compete at a variety of events. At the big regattas there is always a Gold and Silver and often a Bronze fleet, so there is good racing for all skill levels. No matter what, the racing is fast and beyond exciting!
Iceboats like this C-Skeeter can achieve speeds that many soft water sailors might not believe. © Cathy Firmbach
Whatever avenue you decide to pursue this winter you will have a blast! It’s easy to get involved, and the best way to do it is to join the New England Ice Yacht Association (NEIYA) and sail or race with us. Iceboating with other people is safer than iceboating alone, a great way to learn, and much more fun! On the NEIYA website, (theneiya.org), you’ll find information about getting started, a schedule of regattas, cruises, rallies, clinics and other events, reports of ice conditions, iceboats and gear for sale in the Ice Classifieds, and more.
Interested people are encouraged to reach out via the forum at theneiya.org or NEIYA Vice Commodore John Stanton at John@neiya.org or are welcome to stop by Landfall in Stamford, CT to learn more. Landfall stocks the hardware or running rigging for any class of iceboat. Look to Facebook for when John’s DN will be set up in the parking lot. Hope to see you on the ice this winter…and as we in the hard-water crowd say, THINK ICE!
James “T” Thieler has been iceboating for 20 years and competes in the DN one-design class both in the U.S. and throughout Europe. “T” as he is known to his friends (and anyone that’s an iceboater is his friend) currently holds the position of Commodore in the New England Ice Yacht Association. The NEIYA is a paper club with approximately 250 members who reside and sail primarily within the six New England States plus New York and New Jersey. The NEIYA’s main goal is to promote the sport of ice boating through both racing and cruising.
The 2018 DN Eastern Regional Championship scheduled for January 13-14 is postponed until further notice due to a warming trend and mixed bag of Precipitation headed for the entire Mid Atlantic and North East coast. Take this time to fine tune your gear for the upcoming North Americans with registration slated for Sunday evening January 21st.
IDNIYRA Eastern Rear Commodore
And since there is not a whole lot of new news below are some pictures from last week.
Bill converses passed some shots on from this past weekends Doc Fellows that I had to share. As usual Bill has submitted some quality work with high enough resolution to have prints made. As usual if you pass them on in any way please give Bill Converse credit and if you print up a hard copy for yourself please drop him a not of thanks.
If you have not checked in on our Facebook page please do as Ed Edwards has even more pictures from Ashumet Pond https://www.facebook.com/NEIYA.org/
More pictures from Jeff Soderholm here https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/196ntyvhOFKA114wvH7qYiVcY7ZfAUIPd?usp=sharing AND more from Emily Babbitt here https://photos.app.goo.gl/ZRAtyiDpJziWOWDI2 Please do not share without giving credit. It’s the right thing to do especially since they went to a lot of effort standing around in the cold. We salute our photographers and race committee making this possible.
The weather picture was crazy. An Arctic blast hit the area which is great for making ice but also great for freezing pipes, locking cars up, and keeping people house-bound in general. Oh yeah, and we also had tons of snow and big snowdrifts all over New England. Not too promising for iceboating…
I think one of the only people who had any hope of sailing over the weekend was our intrepid Regatta Chairman Steve “Mad Dog” Madden, who has been scouring the area for ice like a maniac!
He found sail-able conditions in Ashumet Pond in Falmouth, MA. Not just sail-able but pretty good! Temps went up enough to sail and even though the breeze was light and shifty we got five races in and the 2018 Doc Fellows is in the books.
Racing required patience! The breeze would come and go, sometimes you had the puff and sometimes you’d get parked. Deciding whether to run or sail, to sheet in tight or ease out and let the boat run or even just coast along was an ongoing process!
Thanks to Emily Babbitt for shooting the start of race one.
Matt Knowles is a relative newcomer to the DN fleet and he is showing lots of potential with a respectable third place. Chad Atkins broke out his new CSI hull sailed it to a very close second. T Thieler had enough luck to take the top spot.
For what it’s worth I started the day with a North FO-1 sail (shifty, light wind means good acceleration is more important than top end speed so the fuller sail is a better choice), my trusty 2008 CSI 4.1 mast and full length, 90 degree minimum width inserts.
In the first race I got a sweet gust off the line and was way ahead at the top mark but Atkins ground me down to finish about three feet ahead. I was about to complain to the Regatta Chair that the course was three feet too long but then I remembered that I’d set the marks. Damn. So I asked Atkins what he had on for runners. He said he was also using 90 degree minimum inserts. Of course I assumed he was lying and switched to a set of 95 degree inserts I have which seemed to grip OK but made a bit less noise in tacks and gybes.
They seemed to do the trick and the boat was a bit happier. Chris Miller said he had used a set of 100 degree inserts and they didn’t grip well and were very noisy…. I also concentrated on maintaining speed through maneuvers by sliding all the way forward in the cockpit during the turns- this gets weight off the aft runners (where all the friction is during the turn) and onto the front runner.
A major thanks once again to Steve Madden for finding and scouting the site, and big props to Jack Erikson for scoring most of the races. He was also first on site placing sand on the parking lot ice and the boat ramp. Steve advises Jack that “when you retire from Falmouth Marine I think there may be another career for you with the DPW!” Like he could ever pass a background check!
Steve also says: “I knew the pond was borderline small for a regatta and with the light and shifty wind I think just about all the acreage was used even into the coves!
I have to give lots of credit to the guys who had a difficult time completing all the laps. It was not an walk in the park. They hung in there and didn’t give up. Ken Olsen US4272 was elated when he managed to do all the laps in the last race.
Congratulations to Matt Knowles for his 3rd place finish. We will be looking forward to chasing him around in future races!”
Glad the season is off and running and thanks to everyone who showed up and made it happen! Great to see everyone out on the ice where we all belong. You know, away from the decent, normal, sensible people on dry land.
|1||James “T” Thieler||5224||2||1||1||1||2||2||5|
|11||Paul Van Dyke||3456||DNF||DNF||DNF||DNF||DNF||DNF||56|
|Each DNF/Asterisk*=14pts (13 racers +1)|
|DNF=did not finish|
Stay tuned for the next bit of NEIYA news!
P.S. While this is a racing report, there was other action and people on Ashumet Sunday. Racing grabs the headlines but whether you race, want to race or cruise we think ice boating is just about the most fun you can have on a winter’s day. Want to participate reach out to us in the comment section.
Doc Fellows Regatta is ON for Sunday January 7, 2018. First Start 11:00 am.
Location is Ashumet Pond in Mashpee, MA on Cape Cod. Launching from state boat ramp on west side of pond. Go over the Cape Cod Canal via the Bourne Bridge on Rt 28. Take Rt 151 off of Rt 28 towards Mashpee and go about 7 miles on Rt 151 then left on to Sandwich St. Go about 2 miles up Sandwich St to entrance for boat ramp on right. First race 11am.