Wednesday, March 3, 2010

NAs Day one, kind of

The German Flag and anthem, start of the opening ceremony.

Ahhhhh iceboating. A beautiful venue, bright sunny sky, wonderful black ice in March, 50 or sixty of your best friends, boat and set-up done, race committee in place. What to do? What's missing?


Nice opening ceremony with four nationalities present (Poland, Germany, Canada and US). See pics. Eight or ten brave souls push-kicked onto the sheet, across the three cracks. The morning was cold, so the ice sheets had shrunk, and a bit of open water was between the cracks, ao runners needed to be lifted over the 2 foot gap at the first crack. The rest were tight enough to push or glide right over. There was the hint of a breeze, and the ice was so fast that the boats could sustain speed if you got them going. Barely. But a turn slowed the boat enough that it would coast to a stop. Mostly it was lulls. Kicking, scooter style, would allow the boats to coast over a hundred yards, so transport was energy-economical.

So on a windless day, lots of ice discussions were had about the pit, and in knots of boats everywhere they happened to be. My personal knot happened to be over the second crack where we intend to sail. The marks from the day before were still up. Early arrivals yesterday sailed around a course between marks set a mile and a half apart, and the distant mark stayed distant today.

The ice is clear (black) and thick. The bright sun was causing it to expand. A local news reporter (TV) was getting no action, but he did get to experience a great little ice quake. View the video and listen carefully to a few seconds to the sounds of the ice discussing the day...

For the non-sailors, you also get a view of my boat packed for a day of sailing. Six runners are in a saddlebag style carrier draped over the front of the boat. A second sail, a speed sail in this case, is tied to the side. A tool kit, water, and the stickers required to identify the components used in racing are in the cockpit.

Alas. A windless day. At three, the race committee called the day over, and we adjourned to the hotel for meals, meetings and more discussions.

The annual meeting followed pre-dinner and was quite business-like. Two proposals will be on the ballot, to allow foam cores where solid wood is not specified, and to specify a minimum bottom thickness beneath the cockpit. A third proposal to alllow 3/8 plate runners went down in near-unaminous defeat. A short editorial paragraph by me is below on that subject.

The Ice Opti mast raffle prize was awarded. A new mast, donated originally by Jeff Kent, won last year by Ken Smith (me), was finished, fitted with an external hound made (but not donated) by Bob Rast, and donated to fund-raise for youth sailing. Mast graphics were donated by Acuity, who is a supplier of hull number vinyl graphics. Neil Lynch, a yooper newcomer to the sport, was the luck winner. Go Neil!

Oh if tomorrow brings wind with the glorious setting and weather, what a regatta this will be!


The proposal has been kicking around for a few years. Making 3/8 plate runners would or would not be feasible. They would or would not be strong enough. Adding such plates would or would not incerase runner inventory.

Well, one of the guys made a few sets, sailed them in extreme conditions, and found them to be great in snow, equal or better than 1/4 inch plates in hard ice, and a great bargain. For a new guy, a good investment that would have him in a competative runner in most conditions. Further, if 36 inch 3/8 plates were legal, that one runner set would be potentially the Universal Runner. It would make 3/8 inserts, now the most universal runner, most advantageous only in certain conditions. The other niche specialty runners would still be niche specialty runners for certain conditions, of course.

Wow. One runner set for fast smooth ice, with a capability to sail in three to four inches of snow also. Thats what I find most all the time!

So who is the proposed rule change good for? A. Anyone trying to enter the sport. A much smaller initial investment gets a runner set that is good-to-great in mostly all conditions. Runner inventory is not a big barrier to competative edge!

Who is that bad for? Everyone that has a huge runner inventory. No market for 1/4 inch plates, reduced market for other inserts. And now a new set of runners to invest in!

But for a new-to-the-sport person's perspective: No need for 1/4 inch pates or expensive sets of inserts. One set to do almost everything!

Who votes to allow such measures on the ballot? All the guys and a few gals with runner inventories and an a continuing commitment to the sport, the fanatics who travel all over teh world just to slide around a lake for a few hours.

Too bad, this is not good news for growing the participation base, IMHO. I was one of the dissenters.


  1. We cannot blame sailors for supporting rules that favor them.

    Constituent based governance is always fatally self interested.

    A Constituent based governing system that requires a 2/3rds majority to visit the head, doubly so.

    DN 4695

  2. I believe that with another (different) set of plate runners the story of runner inventory does not end. As you know, there are very many different steel grades (?) available which either go or do not go fast in certain ice conditions. Is´nt it the thermal conductivity which is important? Anyway I see people carrying more overloaded cars and saddlebags on boats with all sorts of new plate runners if this goes through. I would vote against it and keep my 1 set of short, high plates for the snowy conditions readily available for the day. But than, what do I l know...