Tape your pins: Winnipesaukee The Hardway is ON for Monday March 15. Launch at Brewster Beach, Wolfboro, HN. Be in your boat, brake off and shoving off at 10:00am sharp.
See below for history,details and tips.
NEIYA’s Winnipesaukee “The HardWay” Award
By Bob Kilpatrick
The first ice boat trip from Wolfeboro to Center Harbor and return in modern memory was accomplished in 1947 by Leigh Turner’s father, Norman Turner, and Furber Jewett. According to Leigh, both sailed Mead skeeters that they had purchased in the late 1930s. Since there had been ice boats on Winnipesaukee for 50 years or so before that, it is likely that others preceded them. Leigh reports that he and Erik Erikson made their first unofficial lap of the lake in 1971, sailing DNs. Including the first officially-recognized circumnavigation of the big lake, Winnipesaukee, in 1974, there have been fifteen “official” fleets to have accomplished the feat. That first official “Hard Way” fleet was seven boats, sailed by Hal Chamberlain, Don “Doc” Fellows, Stew Hamel, Leo Healy, Paul Healy, Dick Price, and Leigh Turner.
Bill Converse and Bill Fisher made a non-qualifying trip in 1979. In 1985, six years later, a fleet of twenty-four boats in Fleet #2 made a successful loop of the lake. It was in 1985 that formal conditions for a “Hard Way” award were implemented.
As of 2004, 108 skippers have qualified for the coveted “Hard Way” award, most in DNs. The most trips for one skipper is six, accomplished, appropriately, by Hard Way Review Committee Chairman Leo Healy. Chasing Leo’s record total, Dave Burnham and Paul Zucco are the only skippers to have done five qualifying trips. Leo has made the loop four times in his Northeast Class skeeter, and also twice in DNs. Dave and Paul have done all five of their trips in DNs.
Dick Price and Jon Hix are the only four-trippers on the roster. Dick Price has three trips in NE28 and one in his DN. Jon Hix had the distinction of doing it in three entirely different classes of ice boat, first a stern-steerer, then a DN, and the last two in his J-14. Jon’s stern-steerer, “Phantom,” is the only one of its type to have made the course.
Six others have three official loops under their belts: Hal Chamberlain, Stew Hamel, Leigh Turner, Bob Kilpatrick, Jeff Brown, and Steve Wright. Jeff has two loops standing on an ice board and one in the solid comfort of a DN. One of Leigh’s trips was in the big skeeter “Thin Ice,” in 1991.
Sixteen skippers have made two trips, and eighty-two others have made one official loop.
One South Bay Scooter, skippered by Dave Farrell, with plenty of “moveable ballast” has made the trip and, speaking of traveling standing up, three iceboard sailors have done it; Jeff Brown, Alex Wadson, and Chad Lyons. Lloyd Roberts has made two loops in the “Mother of all Gambits,” G-1.
No history of the “Hard Way” would be complete without mention of the “Thunder Run” from Center Harbor to Brewster Beach made by Jeff Kent and Peter Hill during the 1995 Spring Frolic. No onlooker who saw the two of them hit the beach after a screamingly overpowered record-setting run from Center Harbor will ever doubt that something
noteworthy had just occurred.
No “Hard Way” has been completed since 2004 (there have been three attempts since then, two successful. ed.) when twenty boats in Fleet 15 made it. For your attempt, all you need to do is round up at least five boats, at least one skipper who has received a previous Hard Way award, and at least one NEIYA member, pack up safety gear, spares, and tools, and go for it. NEIYA membership is not required for
each individual participant, but it is certainly encouraged. Don’t forget to make a detailed report upon completion of your circuit.
Remember: Assistance and shelter is a long way from the middle of Lake Winnipesaukee. Brewster Beach, Wolfeboro to Center Harbor is twenty-seven miles each way. To accomplish the whole trip you may end up sailing over a hundred miles. Sharp runners, and be prepared. There are good reasons why pilots do their own pre-flight inspections.
Notes from Experience:
1 – In most cases two small fleets are better than one large one. It is easier to keep track of your fellow sailors and, most important, reef crossings go faster.
2 – Use the wind as best you can when you have it. You never know how long it will last, and it can be a long push back to your launch point.
3 – Eat breakfast someplace where they have lake chart placemats. Also, if you have a real chart, it might fit rolled up inside your boom. It’s easy to get disoriented out there.
4 – Toss or slide big ice chunks out onto the clear ice from your reef crossing points to make it easier to find the spot again on the way back from Center Harbor. This may not be necessary now that we have GPS waypoints, but remember that the ice moves fast; do not assume that the crossing is still safe without checking it.
5 – At reef crossings, a couple of lead boats scout for a crossing point and stop. If the crossing is sailable, wave boats through between you, otherwise help carry them over. Even if reef crossings appear to be sailable, raise your tiller so you don’t take it in the teeth in the event of a sudden stop.
6 – One designated Lead boat and one designated “Trail” boat. The Lead boat concentrates on navigation and clear ice. The Trail boat concentrates on counting sails and making sure the fleet stays intact and in front of him. The fleet in turn needs to keep an eye on the Trail boat. Everybody counts sails at reef crossings.
7 – If you have a choice, the style of steering runner with the brake on the front of the blade is best on this trip. If you lose the wind, it’s a great place to tie your mainsheet so you can pull the boat rather than push it. Again, it can be a long push back.
8- Each fleet should have at least one set of spare dry clothing. Some of us carry “space blanket” survival sacks; they come folded to the size of a pack of cigarettes.
9 – Smart ice boaters put a couple of spare clevis pins in their empty adjuster holes, especially on big ice. When the rig comes down, a departed pin is usually the culprit. No big thing if you have a spare right there. “For lack of a nail…”
9 – The roll of duct tape goes without saying. Smart ice boaters put a couple of spare clevis pins in their empty adjuster holes, especially on big ice.When the rig comes down, a departed pin is usually the culprit. No big thing if you have a spare right there. “For lack of a nail…”
10 – Long experience has shown that, if the wind is strong and steady from the north, a prudent skipper would consider taking along a storm sail, especially for the possible wild ride from Center Harbor to Wolfeboro.