sport of sailing a specially prepared boat equipped with runners over ice. The first iceboats were probably sailed by the Dutch during the 18th cent., although the Finns and Sami (Lapps) may have built similar vehicles at a much earlier date. During the 19th cent. in the United States iceboating was a popular winter sport among wealthy residents of the Hudson River area. They usually built huge and elaborately equipped vehicles, some of which had sails larger than 600 sq ft (183 sq m). In the 20th cent., however, the center of American iceboating shifted to the Midwest, where persons of more modest means built and maintained their own relatively small boats. In Europe iceboating was a very popular sport before World War II, with races held annually by the European Ice Yachting Union. Since the war, only Sweden has continued regular competition. Iceboats are rated according to size of sail. The largest racing boats today have sails measuring 350 sq ft (107 sq m); the smallest sails are about 75 sq ft (23 sq m). Well-constructed boats can attain speeds up to 100 mi (161 km) per hr. One of the more interesting properties of an iceboat is that, under proper conditions, it can actually travel faster than the prevailing breeze; in a 10-mi (16.1-km) per hr wind, for example, an ice boat may travel up to 40 mi (64 km) per hr. The Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America (est. 1881) is open to boats of any size and is generally considered the most prestigious award in American iceboating.
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Iceboating had come to the Hudson River from northern Europe by the mid-eighteenth century. The early American iceboats evolved from boxlike...