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Home arrow The Ice Record
The Ice Yacht Speed Record E-mail

The origins of ice boating or ice sailing are not clear. Some have argued that this form of transport was invented over 2,000 years ago: there is clear evidence that the Dutch were running regular "soft water" boats, with blades or runners strapped to the hull, to transport goods during the cold winter months but recreational use started much later.

It wasn't until the mid 19th century that ice boating found its way to the United States, where the adventurous would sail giant rigs of around 60' (18 m) in length and 1,000 sq ft (93 sq metres) of sail along the Hudson river. When not racing each other, these intrepid sportsmen would race the locomotives that would regularly travel along the banks of the river, apparently reaching speeds of up to 70 mph (112 km/h).

The Current Ice Speed Record

There is much debate over the exact top speed set by an ice craft. With the help of Bob Dill, builder of Iron Duck, and others from modern iceboating world, we have tried to ascertain the highest recorded speed, via modern GPS or Radar. So far, the highest speed witnessed was that of a skeeter at 84mph on Lake Wallenpaupack.

If you think you have gone faster in an ice boat and have gps data with witnesses, we would love to hear from you, so please contact us.

In an attempt to get to the bottom of the stories, Bob Dill has written an article entitled 'Reality and Folklore', to explore the various claims and the reality behind them.


The most spectacular claim is that by John D. Buckstaff, who in 1938, apparently clocked 143 mph (230 km/h), in a 72 mph wind on Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin (USA).

His craft was a stern steerer "Debutante", pictured left.

Little is known about how it was timed or who witnessed it.  The consensus amongst most modern ice sailors is that this sort of speed would have been impossible in such a craft.