Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ice speed sailing

For sailing, the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) authorized the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) to administrate any claims of sailing speed records. However, for ice sailing, there is no international authority to oversee speed records on ice. But that does not stop people from making claims of speed.

This week, Windsurfing magazine’s website posted a story about how Jeff Brown set a new GPS World Speed Record on his iceboard Freeskate (essentially a windsurf rig attached to a board with runners/skates). Jeff goes further as to say that he is now ranked #1 in the world for a "Freestanding rig ice-sled class" which covers all handheld windsurfer type craft on ice.

Personally, I don’t dispute anything he is claiming. All the data is based on sophisticated GPS devices, with the data uploaded and analyzed, with the results then posted to a newly established website called GPS Icesailing. But shouldn’t somebody be in charge? After Jeff made his claims at the GPS Icesailing website, a moderator said they do not allow any self-claimed 'WORLD' records on the site. As for Jeff’s reply, he said, “As far as whatever claim to call my achievement, it is what it is, and I am happy about that!”

It would seem that for the validity of these speed claims to pass the sniff test, some entity needs to be established as the international guardian of ice speed sailing, and then determine the standards and practices that everyone abides by. Until then, ice speed sailing is more about bragging rights in the bar… and less about making “world record” claims.

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At 10:42 PM, Blogger Felipe said...

I was wondering if you'd like to exchange links with me?
If yes, please leave your blog url as a comment at: or e-mail me on webmaster at
I'm linking to you first, then when you have time link me back, ok?
Thanks, Felipe

At 7:25 PM, Anonymous Bob Dill said...

Both FISLY and NALSA (European and North American land/beach sailing organizations) have had speed record ratification protocols for many years for sailing on wheels. We accept each other’s ratifications. NALSA has offered to ratify records on ice where it makes sense for all parties. For example NALSA is working with Richard Jenkins/Greenbird on his current ice and land attempts. The NALSA protocol is a bit less formal (and less expensive) than the WSSRC protocol and it is, we believe, quite effective from a technical and ethical point of view.

The work being done by the GPS-speedsurfing/ice groups is, in my opinion, a good thing. It gives a realistic perspective on speed for the sailors, something that has been lacking in traditional iceboating. The 2009 sailing season is rapidly coming to a close. Over the off season we can look at how we might raise confidence in speed data above the standard of bar room bragging rights without creating a cumbersome ratification process. As you point out, it is all about confidence that proper standards and practices were abided by.


At 4:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Bob for the support of GPS

To others, I agree, a central organization should be in charge of any speed record claims, not a website, but rather a group as Bob explains.
The website owners of GPS icesailing makes this clear and are currently working with WSSRC for the water record claims, as classified by GPS data.

The former IFSA (International Freeskate Association) conducted organized speed trials in the mid 80's, but the sport dwindeld when winsurfing soft water popularity declined as well.
I was the commodore of that group prior to its end.

Today we see the WISSA (World Ice & Snow Sailing Association) where craft class type are designated for the purpose of course racing. We look to merge with that group, or any other sailing group to support standards of GPS data for speed record claims.
Until then, you are correct, it's all about bar room bragging rights...but at least it's backed by some credible data, perhaps more than most other GPS claims.

Sail safe!
Jeff Brown, Freeskate US 14

At 9:00 AM, Blogger Scuttleblog said...

Pretty cool to be hearing from Bob Dill, who designed the craft that holds the land sailing speed record, and Jeff Brown who has set what could arguably be the ice sailing speed record holder. It sounds like a solution is in the future.


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