This holy grail of sail is the Van Nostrand Cup, crafted by Tiffany in 1888 at the behest of  Gardiner Van Nostrand, “held since 1891 by the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club,” put up for competiton only once (1978)  since then.     Getting it back is tricky.  Races can only happen when waters are frozen;  you need good ice, though, not just any ice.  You need wind but not too much.  Last Saturday winds gusted to 50 mph, and then Sunday . . . in spite of this beautiful ice … puffs happened only sporadically.   And with good wind, how fast can they go?  Answer follows.

John Vargo, here with a formidable hat made of skins of two Great Plains coyotes, talks about the sport as

over on the far side of this lake (which I will refer to as Lake Shangri-la . . . located somewhere between the sixth boro and the St. Lawrence) two old stern-steerers race.  If you haven’t seen bowsprite’s  video of the last run of Galatea from February 2010, click here.

A little over 100 years ago, ice boats like these were THE fastest vehicle on earth!  This youtube video from the 1930s touts the fact that a Chevy can outrun an iceboat, an appeal that seems quite bizarre today.

To me, these vessels seem too beautiful and delicate to be so fast.

Varnish, polished brass, marlinespike are all lovingly cared for on Ariel.

Genevieve is a beauty returned recently from Wisconsin

by Brett, whose passion for iceboats was quite evident.  This type of passion and

obsession one who blogs incessantly of water can easily empathize with.  Wonder why the nameboard looks so untraditional?

Genevieve was built not far from a certain temple of baseball in the Bronx.     Here’s a list of vessels built there, but there’s no mention of their iceboating endeavors.    While we’re on NYYL&E history, check out their Bronx-built Linmar and  Olympus.  Another long-gone Morris Heights-based builder built lightships.

A two-person crew pushes off in light wind  before lying in the basket.

Genevieve’s bigger basket accommodates more crew, more pushers.

Waiting for the wind here from near to far:  Ice Queen, Whirlwind, and Ariel.

Lake Shangri-la beckons; when the wind blows, these boats are eager to bring the Grail back to New York ice.  All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who’s grateful for the hospitality.

For a wide variety of European iceboat images and links, click here.

Ice boat speed records:  Debutaunte . . . 143 mph?    Miss Wisconsin . . .   200 . ..  has it been clocked?

Check out John Vargo’s Boating on the Hudson FaceBook page here.