Iceboating has enjoyed something of a resurgence on Lake Maxinkuckee. This winter has provided some wonderful opportunities for the sport. Frigid temperatures with little snow are exactly the conditions that hard water sailors are looking for.
An iceboat glides over the ice on runners similar to ice skates powered by a sail. The runners on ice provide very little drag so the sail quickly transforms into an air foil generating lift. It is this lift generated by the sail that allows the iceboat to travel at speeds 2-3 times wind speed.
On this day Steve and Joe Schaub were taking advantage of some ideal
conditions. A steady 6-10 mph breeze out of the east with just a little snow in the air. The ice was mostly clear with only a light covering of snow in spots. Accumulated snow slows the iceboat significantly not only increasing the drag on the runners but the iceboat has very little clearance under it.
This low clearance provides an exciting perspective of speed. The runners over the ice provide some sound but most of the sound comes from the wind. The wind noise can be thrilling, it provides very little notice for others on the ice.
The sailors have to be on constant alert for safety. Other iceboats, ice fisherman and open water are the most common obstacles. As speeds increase the time to react to these obstacles decreases. Things happen fast on an iceboat and that is a big part of the appeal.
More photos are available at http://flickr.com/greghilde