Wednesday, 24 February 8:00 p.m. Monmouth Beach Cultural Center 128 Ocean Avenue, Monmouth Beach, NJ

Skeeter Iceboat

An extraordinary meeting of standing room only audience was enthralled by Gregg Strand's history and exhibit of model wooden iceboats from the 1600's to the 20th century, and by Dan Clapp's illustrated presentation of the evolution of modern iceboats – the Skeeters – with carbon fiber hulls and synthetic fiber sails in the 21st century. In North America the transfer of the Dutch heritage of iceboats led to use of iceboats for commercial transport along the Hudson but also the rise of competition between wealthy enthusiasts in the 1800's along the Hudson river.

Wooden iceboats were built to massive scale not only for sport but for hauling of lumber and bricks on the Hudson. Sport enthusiasts organized competitions with unique trophies such as the von Nostrand Cup designed by Tiffany and won by the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat Club four times since 1890. Gregg Strand displayed his classic antique models of classic iceboats to demonstrate the changes from rear to front steering boat designs and variations in masts and rigging that evolved with the quest for speed – typically 3 to 4 times the speed of the wind.

Dan Clapp projected photographs to illustrate the elements of the modern iceboats – the skeeters. There are multiple classes of iceboats based on sail area as well as mast heights and other elements of design. They are beautiful examples of application of modern aerodynamics to iceboat sailing including carbon fiber hulls, airplane foil design for masts, and synthetic fiber sails of tall wing aspects. Speeds of over 80 to 90 mph are readily achieved in competition. Airplane type closed cockpits and safety helmets have enabled in part these extreme speed records.

The audience was enthusiastic and animated in discussions after the presentations and poured over exhibits of historic documents, photographs, regatta trophies, and the models of boat designs, fiber mast sections, steel runners and newspaper articles on display. An audience member suggested that Gregg and Danny to team up and present this fascinating story for audiences across the country, an idea that could germinate into a unique documentary.


Copyright © 2014 Navesink Maritime Heritage Association

Navesink Maritime Heritage Association is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving knowledge and appreciation of Monmouth County's maritime heritage through programs that teach wooden boat building and boat handling skills; through preserving the history of Monmouth County's wooden boat builders and other maritime history; and through the experiental on-the-water programs of River Rangers for middle school children and Sea Scout Ship Navesink for co-ed youth age 14-21.

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