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Ice Boat Championship: Meet the Ice Boat Racers Who Brave Frozen Lakes

Enthusiasts of the winter sport gather at various frozen lakes around the U.S. every year when “hard water” sites are available

Ice Boat Racers: Meet the Frozen Lake Warriors Gallery

Fabrizio Costantini for Rolling Stone

Ice boats – miniature sailboats with three metal blades called runners – have been around since the 19th Century, and modern enthusiasts of the winter sport (officially called “ice yachting”) gather at various frozen lakes around the U.S. every year when “hard water” sites are available. After weeks of delays due to snow and extreme cold followed by unseasonable warmth, we gathered with approximately 50 racers at Michigan’s Lake Charlevoix for the stunning annual event. 

Fabrizio Costantini for Rolling Stone

Racers line-up

A fleet of up to 40 racers line up at the starting line. “My theory is to err on the side of speed. If I am going to make a mistake, make a mistake that is going to make me go fast,” racing veteran Ron Sherry explains.

Fabrizio Costantini for Rolling Stone

Take-off

Ready to brave the elements, Martin Schneider from Hamburg Germany takes off at the start of the ice yacht race.

Fabrizio Costantini for Rolling Stone

Tech inspection

After each race, the top 5 racers enter the “winner’s circle” where their boat is inspected to make sure they are up to spec.

Ahmed Fakhr for Rolling Stone

Boat language

“I don’t pay attention to anything but the boat, the boat speaks its own language,” Griffin Sherry explains. “It’s your own personal rollercoaster. You can go for as long as you want and don’t stop.”

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