Just in time for the Rochester winter (which will come, I promise you) I have decided to take a snowy turn into yet another wonderful sport that is so cool (oh yeah) that it actually is more than just a game. It solves problems that every person is sure to have faced at one of their more icy times in life.
Ever went to your car, only to have the parking lot be one giant sheet of ice? Roads closed because snow piled up too high? Can’t possibly find a way to get all the far, far way from Sue B. to the Frat Quad for that one warm drop of booze because the air is freezing and the ground is frozen? Don’t want to trust the bridge over to Riverview but the Genesee is too frozen to swim across?
Wait for it. Ice sailing.
Or yachting. Depends on how expensive the boat is.
Yeah. And you thought boats were only for water.
While it does take most of its inspiration from a normal sport, sailing, the idea of strapping some skis to a boat was just too good to pass up. And it isn’t exactly a sport that you will see showing up in the Olympics anytime soon as far as I know.
I assure you, I am not making this up.
Ice sailing is popular across Europe and even has a national guiding body (International DN Ice Yacht Racing Association) that helps set up a purpose for this sport, besides helping people sail over frozen rivers.
In case you haven’t quite gotten the drift yet, ice sailing is pretty simple. Take your boat, be it the King of Red Lions or something you built in ninth grade shop class, and attach giant long runners on the bottom of it.
Think of it like taking your boat to buy a nice pair of ice skates and then helping it learn how to skate across a giant sheet of ice.
But then you have to race it against other boats. Kind of like Pirates of the Caribbean, but the races don’t quite last three movies long. And you don’t get cannons, giant whirlpools or Davy Jones to have to deal with.
Really, the wind is your only friend when it comes to this sport. No oars (the ground is ice remember) and no motor engines here.
It’s all powered by the wind, with all hope resting in the construction of your wonderful ice skating (err..sailing) boat.
In fact, the sport even has local appeal. According to Encyclopedia Britannica (well, according to Wikipedia, which claims it came from EB), ice sailing was invented right here in New York state on the Hudson River, starting in good old Poughkeepsie.
Of course the design of boatshas improved since then, but the good old feeling of the salty breeze of the Hudson while you race your boat across hopefully a thick layer of ice has the same chilling appeal that it always has.
Regional North American championships are still held yearly, and there are even world championships for those of you braver souls who think that your boat can sail (I guess it is still sailing?) across a giant sheet of ice before everybody else’s.
Races tend to take place with sailers having to go around a triangle with each leg being a mile long, making for one cold, long skate around the park.
This year, the great country of Poland will be hosting the finals, but there are also North American regional competitions for those wishing to get their feet cold in yet another sport that I wouldn’t have believed if I had not seen it myself.
Clark is a member of the class of 2012.