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Michigan Iceboating

Paul Goodwin Boat courtesy of IDNIYRA.comBecause Michigan winters are sufficiently cold to allow for a thorough freezing of inland lakes, ice boating is popular in the state during the winter months. In fact, one of the more popular iceboat classes is the DN class (pictured left), designed and named in response to a contest sponsored by the Detroit News in 1937. This boat is essentially a small ice rocket (12 feet long, only 21 inches wide) with a maximum speed of 60 m.p.h. Michigan is home to the International DN Ice Yacht Racing Association, which boasts about 2000 members.


There are some peculiarities to ice boating (ice yachting) which are not seen with “soft water” sailing. First, most iceboats carry a single individual (so the need for crew is removed), however two or more person boats do exist. Second, because of the speeds involved (iceboats in general can travel 5-10x wind speed), ice sailors wear protective gear, including helmets. Third, iceboats do not require standard ramps for launching. And lastly, an intimate knowledge of ice conditions and lake topography is essential for a safer experience (although iceboating cannot be made 100% "safe").


The iceboating season can’t start until snow-free hard ice is established on the lakes, usually after Christmas. Ice-sailing events in general are very condition dependent and may arise or be canceled with short notice for safety reasons. Those interested in iceboating should contact the organizations below for expert advice on sailing conditions, tactics and safety.


Michigan Winter Weather Outlook for Winter 2017/18

Bottom line with a lot of hand-waiving and uncertainty - Due to La Nina and other factors, the early part of the winter Dec-Jan will be colder than normal with a warm up in Feb. Precipitation will be lightly above normal in Dec/Jan and then slightly below normal in Feb.



.Skeeter Class IceboatNite Class IceboatJ14 Iceboat photo by Mice Acebo

        Skeeter Class                 Nite Class                   J14 Class 


Some popular Ice Yacht clubs & launch locations


Elk Lake Iceboating Club - Elk Lake (Antrim County) 

Gull Lake Ice Yacht Club - Gull Lake (Barry County)

Grand Traverse Ice Yacht Club - Grand Traverse Bay (Grand Travese County)

West Michigan Ice Yacht Club - Muskegon Lake (Muskegon County)  

Other Locations:

Other Michigan-based Ice Yachting Resources

Supplies & Materials

  • Sarns Hardware, Inc - Ferndale, MI - 248-763-8869
  • Composite Concepts, Inc. - Clinton Township, MI - 586.790.5557



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Photos on this page courtesy of Mike Acebo (J14 Iceboat), International Nite Class Association (Nite Iceboat).

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