Ice Sailing in Pure Michigan

There’s still plenty of time to partake in some fun winter activities here in Pure Michigan. Skiing, snowboarding and sledding are all well-known winter activities, but why not try something new like ice sailing?

Michigan is an ideal location for ice sailing – one of the activities featured the Pure Michigan winter video series. Below Dan Hill of Action Sports Enterprises tells us more about this unique sport.

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

A: I own a company called Action Sports Enterprises and I am the organizer for the Ice and Snow Sailing Festival/Winter Sailing Cup of North America.

Q: What is ice sailing and how did you get into the sport? 

A: Ice sailing is essentially powering sports that you already enjoy either by the environment or by wind. That includes sailing, skating, skiing and snowboarding. You do those same events that you love, but now you are doing them either directly on ice or on ice that has snow on top. 

I was introduced to wind sailing when I was selected as a Gate Judge for the Vancouver Winter Olympics and have had a passion for the sport  ever since.

Q: Why do you love ice sailing?  

A: I love ice sailing for many reasons. You can do it anywhere there is wind and snow or ice and it incorporates sports I already enjoy.  The sport is also very green and a form of free power. The idea of powering sports that people already enjoy with wind is exciting!  For those who have yet to try it, it is truly wind dancing.

Q: Who might like to try ice sailing?

A: I think anyone who enjoys the outdoors - especially kitesurfers, sailors, ice skaters, windsurfers , skiers and snowboarders should try the sport. It is really unlike anything else and great time especially if you already love outdoor sports. 

Q: Do you have any advice for ice sailing beginners?

A: First of all, I recommend taking a lesson or demoing some equipment at one of our events. Adding wind power to activities like skiing and snowboarding requires a lot of balance. 

Q: What equipment or skills do you need to start ice sailing? 

A: There are four different kinds of devices used for ice sailing:

The wing – The wing is almost like a mini hang-glider. You’re not harnessed in and really feel the wind.

The kite – The kite is like a parachute that is attached to you. For the kite, you’ll need an instructor to harness you in.

The sled – If you’ve ever seen wind surfing, you know what the sled is like. You hold onto the sail and have either skis or blades on to navigate over the snow and ice.

The Sail- Sailing on the Ice with an Ice Boat

Q: In 2012, WISSA came to Michigan. Why is Michigan such a great place for ice sailing and what was the reaction from participants? 

A: Michigan is a great state for the sport because it has so many frozen lakes. The Great Lakes are especially great with the unobstructed wind.  Michigan also has a lot of open space with snow which can also be great places to snow sail.

We’ve had rave reviews from event participants from across the globe that Michigan is ideal for ice sailing and we have to agree. Next year, we are hoping to add a fourth class of “ice boaters” to the event and nearly 50 participants are already interested.

Q: Where are some great places in Michigan to go ice sailing?  What is your favorite place? 

A: One of the best places is St. Ignace right near the Mackinaw Bridge and it really a great setting, but any frozen lake is great place to go.

Q: What are some of your other favorite winter activities?  

A: I also enjoy snow kiting, skiing, snowboarding and skating.

Q: What do you love about a Michigan winter?   

A: You can be active and still stay cool while doing winter activities.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do or place to go after a long day ice sailing?  

A: Going in the Traditional Sauna that we had built on the ice in St. Ignace. When you’re done sailing for the day it feel s great to warm up and we bring the traditional, all wood sauna right out on the ice. We also have ice bowling out there too and it’s a lot of fun too.

Learn more in Ice Sailing | A Pure Michigan Winter below, from the Pure Michigan winter video series.

Dan Hill is president of Action Sports Enterprises and is hopeful to make Michigan the next “World Cup” for wind sailing. Find out more about Ice Sailing and Dan at www.wintersailingcup.com  and www.iceandsnowsailingfestival.com for advice and equipment.

  • Sunfish75

    My husband and i.began Iceboating 27years ago on Reed Lake in Grand Rapids. I was 6 months pregnant flying 60mph in a snow storm.
    Today we sail on Walled Lake when the ice is safe or on Tawas Bay barring conditons an where we set sail from during the summer months on Lake Hduron.