Exploring the Thrills of Iceboating with Erin Bury

Erin Bury, a dedicated iceboater and Quantum contributor shares her exhilarating experiences navigating DN iceboats. The DN iceboat, first crafted in 1936, was designed to harness apparent wind better than any other boat, often reaching SOG three times true wind speed. Erin and fellow enthusiasts race on clean ice wherever they find it, from Minnesota's Lake Minnetonka, to Montana, to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, chasing the best conditions. We caught up with her as the ice began to thaw on her 2023/24 season.

Quantum: Tell us a little bit about your season and your boat!

Erin: This year, we have had great local ice in Minnesota on Lake Minnetonka, home to one of the first iceboat yacht clubs in the country. Last year, we had almost all of our major events on Lake Kegonsa, while the year before, we were anywhere between Montana and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan! It changes based on ice conditions.

I wouldn't be in the sport without amazing mentors like Daniel Hearn (US DN 5352), and the sport wouldn't continue to grow without coaches like Sam Bartel (US DN 1011). Both sailors have been instrumental in reigniting the Junior DN program, with Bartel as the Director of Junior Sailing.

More broadly, we sail with local and international sailors, from top-ranked to novice. Some of us are also soft water sailors; others are iceboat-exclusive. This year, I've been spending more time with newer ice sailors, from offering DN 5397 for test rides to helping new boat owners set up and tune their DNs.

Most iceboats are "home-builds." DN 5397 was built by Jori Lenon in 2007. Lenon sailed DN 5397 until winter 2020. I purchased the boat in January 2021 and made modifications to fit my body type and sail safely. These boats become extensions of the sailors themselves; you can see our community's love for them. 

Q: What do you wish "soft water" sailors* knew about iceboating? If someone wanted to try it out, what should they do? (* we totally made this term up, but we love it)

EB: I wish "soft water" sailors knew just how few women compete in DN ice sailing. There are many advantages to being a female in the sport, and with the participation and innovation of more women, there could be endless potential for tuning advancements and discovery.

Also, iceboat racing isn't all that different! Despite the bobsled start, our races resemble a typical buoy course — with a near and far mark (windward and leeward). Our windward mark has a darling mark, which seems like an offset while operating as a safety boundary to prevent high-speed collisions at the rounding.

If you want to try it out, joining our Facebook groups and reaching out to Sam Bartel are good avenues for accessing proper equipment (to loan or buy) and guidance to start your ice sailing journey!

Q: What made you choose Quantum Sails and stick with us as your sailmaker?

EB: The Quantum Community is incredible and revolutionary. Quantum isn't just a sailmaker but a community with a culture of taking challenges head-on. Quantum evolves its designs and outreach with the sailing community while simultaneously raising the bar. Quantum challenges us as sailors as they take on their own challenge of ensuring that we continue to love our sport and the sails that power it.

Q: Have you worked with one of our sail experts or designers or with a team at one of our lofts? How was that experience? Is there anything (or anyone) who stands out?

EB: I visited the Traverse City loft and got a full tour! I spent some time with Sean McDowell, a sailmaker and graphic designer. Seeing his process and passion for making the perfect sail and making sailors’ visions come true with custom graphics was such a treat. Also, a super shoutout to Lisa, Jarrett, Julie, Sonya, Erin, and Katy for developing and sharing ice sailing content over the last few years!

Q: And just for fun, what's your favorite point of sail?

EB: Close-hauled, especially on a DN. If I follow our Quantum iceboat tuning guide, I can point like no one else. Even in lighter conditions, the tuning guide keeps the sail charged with apparent wind!

For those curious about iceboating, follow Erin's adventures on Instagram or stay in the loop with the DN class. Erin also regularly contributes content to our online resources, so stay tuned to our website and social media for more!

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