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Ice sailing. Sliding at 35 knots on Lake Geneva

Winter is not the most suitable season to sail the sea and many yachtsmen prefer waiting for fine weather to set sail. However, some of them don’t give up sailing emotions even in cold weather. So, a dash of creativity, a little craziness and the Made in USA thrill of speed are enough to invent a completely new discipline called “ice sailing“.

ice sailingIncreasingly more popular in the States, the new sport even has its world championships. The background is the gorgeous Lake Geneva, in Wisconsin, which is completely frozen in winter. Rules are simple, very similar to car races’ ones: boats line up on the starting line and, on the judge’s go, they whizz at top speed. The first that reaches the finish line wins the race.

Boats are all designed to be light and fast. Their shape is sharp and elongated, similar to Formula One cars’ spoiler. Their structure is highly aerodynamic in order to have the best interaction with air pressure.

Two side wings, based on two of the three blades intended to slide on the ice ( the third one is positioned forward), enable the boat to keep the necessary stability at high speed. And it’s not an euphemism: these racing boats, sliding on the ice while pushed by the wind, can touch 35 knots. It is no coincidence that pilots have to wear special protections, including helmet and glasses.

The following footage was made by photograph Matt Mason and shows all the fascinating power of the new discipline. The ice sailboat  turns, raising one of the two side skates. Pictures clearly show the spectacularity of the manoeuver, enhanced by landscape background where competitions take place.

At first, pilots line up on the starting line and jump into the yacht only when they have built up speed. Only their head and arms remain visible.

Is this just a fad? Maybe, but ice sailing has already conquered many expert sailors. The 2017 world champion was Karol Jablonsky, the same helmsman who has joined America’s Cup in 2005. So, if you like speed and sailing, Ice Sailing can be the right winter option for you. You only have to be brave, passionate and… a little crazy!



One Response

  1. I am curious why Ice Skating does not use larger lakes for its races. I’ve seen NWT via oil and gas exploration and a lake like Great Slave Lake seems to be beyond perfect for your sport.

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