ice yacht

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Frank Hurley :: Hamilton hand-netting for macro-plankton from Aurora, ca. 1912. Silver gelatin print / src: State Library of New South Wales
Oceanography: marine biological programme and other zoological and botanical activities. Photographs from the first Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914

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Ice sailing in Hungary


In winter Lake Balaton is mostly frozen over and it is suitable for winter sports as soon as the thickness of the ice reaches 15 cm. (The average thickness of the ice is between 25-30 cm, the thickest ice measured since the turn of the last century was 75 cm.) The ice is then proper for sports, like iceyachting. The first iceyacht club was formed in Hungary in 1901, at Siófokj, at the Lake Balaton.

Iceboating, also called Ice Yachting, a winter sport of sailing and racing on ice in modified boats. An iceboat is basically a sailboat that travels on thin blades, or runners, on the surface of the ice. An iceboat consists first of a single fore-and-aft spar, called the backbone, which may be wide enough to have a cockpit in its hull to carry the crew. This spar, or hull, is securely mounted on a broad, flexible crosspiece, or runner plank, which is at a right angle to it and which has a steel runner at each of its two ends. A third runner, the steering runner, is mounted at either the fore or aft end of the hull and is controlled by the helmsman using a tiller. A vertical mast carries either one or two sails, usually a mainsail and a jib. Smaller iceboats dispense with a cockpit in the hull and instead have a shallow, elliptical tray mounted on the backbone and upon which the one- or two-man crew sits. The modern iceboat’s structural elements are made of high-strength steel.

The wooden ice yachts of the 19th century were large and had six or seven crew members. The Icicle was 21 m long and had 99 square meter of sail. The iceboat can reach at least four times the speed of the wind propelling it, and speeds of over 220 km/h have been recorded. An iceboat that is sailing downwind can reach no greater a speed than that of the wind itself. But an iceboat can reach much faster speeds when it sails across the wind rather than being pushed along by it, since the boat creates a wind from the velocity of its own movement that greatly supplements the natural wind. These principles were only vaguely understood in the early days of iceboat racing, and the traditional rig with a stern-mounted rudder was the standard design despite the boat’s forward thrust sometimes lifting the stern rudder from the ice and sending the whole boat into a spin.

Ice yachting was a rich man’s sport, and became less popular in Europe after World War II but remained popular in the United States and Canada, mainly in the Northeast, And of course in the Lake Balaton!

My rock candy passion is bittersweet
And armed to the teeth
‘Cause she would rather fall in chocolate
Than fall in love
Especially with me