North Sails LOFT NEWS

Story Contributors: Chelsie Strong


Catching Up With Trey Rose After The 2020 North American DN Iceboat Championships

For those that are unaware, Iceboating, simply put, is sailing on ice. There are many different types of iceboats, but current designs tend to have three runners or blades that support the main body of the craft. There are international and local competitions and the sport flourishes in the northern regions of both Europe and the US.

We got a chance to speak to a local Detroit area customer, Trey Rose, who recently returned from Fort Peck Montana after competing in this year’s DN Iceboat North American Championship Regatta. As with any sport there are certain characteristics that challenge participants and make the sport unique.

“The sport is difficult in the aspect of good wind, good ice and no snow on the ice” says Trey when asked about his participation in the sport. Finding this trifecta requires ice boaters to be flexible on time and location of any ice boating events. “These guys will say hey, we have a regatta this weekend and they’re like ok. And Thursday an email will go out and you find out it’s in Minnesota or Wisconsin” A lot of ice boaters have the ability to take time away from work with little to no notice, or people are retired from work. 

Often times, soft water sailors are drawn to the sport because it’s similar to warm weather sailing and it keeps Great Lakes boaters active year round. However, Ice boats are known for their sometimes extreme speed and differences in maneuverability. When asked what’s different between soft and hard water sailing, Trey had this to say: “The components and how to de-power. Talking about bending your rig how many feet versus hey can I get an inch or two of mast over here….everything is a lot more extreme, speed, etcetera” For Trey, Ice boating keeps him intrigued for more than one reason.  “It’s been fascinating to me. I’m really into sailing and it was a new challenge, and it certainly is all of that. I’m hoping as I comprehend and excel at this I can convert it over to soft water.”

For locals, there are several different groups that get out on the ice together whenever possible, including the Iceboating in Michigan and Ohio Facebook Group.  According to Trey, “It’s a pretty active page for people posting hey, my backyard lake looks like this and they have get-togethers.” Trey has a few locations that make it easier to get out more often and have spots where people can take a break, warm up and get back out there for more action. “My favorite location, I suppose is Walled Lake. There’s a nice little beach area there that we can utilize. There’s a bar and grille right next to the beach. Its where I have been able to easily go.  And I can bring new people into the sport and rotate them in a warm environment. The best place locally, I think is Maumee Bay, just because there’s so many people that sail there. There’s a little shallow water area and a cove and you get a lot of great ice conditions frequently.”

The DN Iceboat was created first here in Michigan, spurred by an active community of skilled craftspeople and the Detroit News taking notice. Trey shared his knowledge on the history of the craft and how it all got started. “The intent was for anybody to get these [DN Iceboat] plans and build it in their garage. I believe what was going on was a lot of people were building boats. There was this arms race of engineering almost. Kind of like the Americas Cup where design might actually win versus the sailor. So at one point, what they did was say let’s make one design. You can build your own boat and all that, but be within these certain parameters. And that way you can compete and say at least we’re in the same realm as each other. I believe it was an article placed out by the Detroit News, which is why it’s called the DN”. The DN Iceboat is currently sold internationally, and is the most popular Ice Boat in the world.

Trey got his first DN Iceboat from a co-worker who was trying to get rid of the boat after the owner of the boat, his Grandfather, had passed away. “He wanted it to be used but didn’t know anything about it. He knew I sailed. We made a great deal and since then it’s been a roller coaster of upgrades. I don’t think I have any part of that boat, that’s part of my race program now.” Ice boaters can spend a lot of time working on and tweaking their boats for optimal performance. According to Trey the type and quality of your equipment and sails can make or break your sailing experience. “Equipment is really, really important.  In iceboating I have noticed a tremendous difference the equipment makes. You can buy speed. With the right conditions, the right materials, the right sails, the right runners make a big difference.”

Trey purchased a North Sails One Design Power-Max mainsail a few days prior to the regatta. He explains how that sail effected his light air sailing. “I’m a little bit heavier and there’s a slight worry about my light air performance. But we had a lot of practice and I was just killing these guys off the line, at least. I got my speed up and I got point faster than anybody around me on all 4 or 5 starts. I would say that sail is very helpful.”

The location of the regatta was chosen a bit later than usual and much farther away than usual, due to a weather system that came through the mid-west just days prior to when the regatta was set to take place. Trey details, “We had this crazy weather system that came by and dumped a bunch of snow, like 6 inches or so and more north. All of our North Americans thus far have been between Minnesota and Maine and we have different regions. The west region goes all the way up to Minnesota but not past that. That weather system took any safe ice that we had in the region and put 6 inches of snow on it. You can’t do an even on that.

Thankfully, some Iceboaters from Montana reached out with good ice conditions and with little other options, the race was scheduled for a water basin in Fort Peck Montana. “The water basin that we sailed on is a dam with a reservoir that feeds the Missouri river. The Army Core of Engineers manages it. The ice was great, well, ok [Laughs] and they sent all these videos of people sailing on it. So we packed our bags and headed out west and there was no wind.”

It was a difficult task finding a specific location to set up the course. We were scouting ice, and the people managing the reservoir made the decision to lower the water level which ended up cracking some of our ice. Which made some of the areas we might want to go sail off limits; very inaccessible and obviously cracking and making some pressure cracks elsewhere. Luckily this reservoir has more surface area than the coastline of California.”

The rules of the regatta require that 3 races be held within a division to qualify as an event. This can be difficult if the weather conditions do not cooperate. This year, the weather was not cooperating. After delays in finding ice and in having conditions that were good enough to run qualifying races it came down to Friday which was the final scheduled day of the 2020 NA Championships. “Unfortunately, the end of the day happened and we only had 2 in on Silver that were legal within the time limits. The event does have a stipulation that you go until Saturday if you have not been able to complete the event by Friday sundown. Saturday was supposed to be blowing anywhere from 10 knots to 30. All of the sudden this is going to be a big air event. And once you start a race day, it’s a race day. They had us out till sundown there. I think we did 3 races. Boats still were whole. The wind just kept piping up and piping up, we ended up having a squall line come through. But the ice conditions weren’t great. They still had cracks in them and we were in really windy conditions so it started getting on the edge. At least for me. I know some of the more seasoned guys were saying, no, it’s just getting fun.

Trey is considering competing again in next year’s North Americans depending on where they take place and how things go with his new schedule of raising his new baby girl, Claire.

Here is a video clip taken by Sean R. Heavey on the last day of the regatta.

If anyone is interested in trying the sport, you can contact Trey at Or check out the Facebook page for Ohio and Michigan Iceboating to see what’s happening in your area. If you have questions about Sails for the DN Iceboat, feel free to contact the Detroit Loft