The flag is up! That means it’s “go-time” in the world of international ice boating. It also means that now it’s time to “push off” and head to Indian Lake, as they say.
World Class ice boaters descended on Indian Lake this past weekend, in fact, races began on Sunday. This historic day for Indian Lake ice boat racing started with a 9 AM Skippers Meeting, followed by the Opening Ceremonies with the first race beginning at 11:00am. Racing continues through the week and concludes this Saturday the 23rd, with awards and prizes being given after the regatta is completed.
The big story so far of this regatta is that on Sunday the nine-member Polish team was forced to scramble to find boats to use because their equipment was stranded in France. North American sailors rallied at the last minute and found boats and components for the Polish team to use.
So, if you’re an ice boating, sailing or lake fan or you’re just looking for something exciting and interesting to do in the middle of winter, then come out to the lake the rest of this week and watch these elite world class athletes compete against each other. These international adventure athletes and adrenaline junkies will be zooming around the lake in their high-tech ice sailing boats at speeds from 30 to 140 mph depending on daily ice and wind conditions.
So exactly what is ice boating you may be wondering? A standard ice boat is typically a 12-foot wooden boat ( framework, fuselage) with a sail and is fitted with skis or runners (skates) and designed to run over ice (hard water) instead of through water (soft water) and can reach speeds from 30-140 mph.
Most designs fall into the DN class. The DN is the largest iceboat class in the world, so named because it was the winner of an iceboat design contest sponsored by the Detroit News in 1937.
Sailing on ice and reaching speeds of well over 100 mph may sound crazy, but it’s a popular sport and recreational activity enjoyed by many worldwide.
If fact, the Indian Lake Yacht Club right here in Russells Point offers ice boating and even has its own fleet of ice sailing boats.
Local ice boating expert and past commodore of the Indian Lake Yacht Club, Joe Ewing, who has over 40 years of experience ice boating, heads up the local Indian Lake ice boaters group along with Jeff Patten, who has over 30 years of ice boating experience, and Jim Young, who has a whopping 50-plus years.
These three expert ice sailors and Indian Lake Yacht Club members have set the standard for ice boating at Indian Lake and are pioneers in ice boating for this entire region of Ohio. Other avid ice boaters past and present in this Indian Lake ice boaters group include Bill Young, Jim Kuertz, Charlie Wright, John Collier, Bob Collier, Brook Patten and Gabe Patten, who by the way began ice Boating at the early age of 10.
“Today many DN-class ice boats are very sophisticated and some are even made of carbon fiber,” said Patten. An ice boat can cost between $200 for a beater, to $60,000 for a “Skeeter” (Formula One) racing class ice boat with speed capabilities of over 140 mph.
So, there you have it, believe it or not. Indian Lake is now home to both the 2019 North American Championship Regatta and incredibly the Gold Cup World Championships. Both are being held this week at the lake and are being hosted by the IDNIYRA’s (International DN Ice Yacht Racing Association) Central Lakes Region. What a prestigious honor for the lake, the community, local sailors and the tight knit long standing group of ice boaters at Indian Lake.
Last last year’s World Championships were held in Europe. In this sport, race locations many times are established as last minute decisions based on lake/ice conditions and lake availability. This year Indian Lake won out and the community has earned a new prestigious feather in its cap!
Ron Brohm is a regular contributor to this newspaper.