In our previous on-the-water session, ice was something we crashed into at peril to fin and board. This day would be about windsurfing on top of ice, something I never thought I'd do. But Jonathan Ford called and said it would be fun, and he has never steered me wrong, so I found myself gingerly walking out onto Cold Spring Pond (which is actually a tidal inlet) to meet Jon and John and Jeff to check it out. Jeff and I were the newbies.
The boards were fascinating...I've seen a Snowfer once, but never boards like these. Jon's is essentially a landskating longboard fitted with blades instead of wheels. John's board ("IceSurfer" the nametag said, made by a Long Island welder who has long since moved to Florida) feature rear blades, a single round runner in the front that provides no lateral stability, and a footbrake. Big and wide, Jeff compared it to a Starboard Go.
Jon and John had been sailing earlier in the week, when 25 knot winds had them out on 3.5's, barely sheeting in as they flew across the ice. But this day was light, and 5 meter sails were rigged...perfect for a first try.
Jeff took a quick run on Jon's board, which promptly suffered a broken pin. John invited me to take a spin on his yacht, lent me his helmet, and away I went. Once I mastered my fear of falling through the ice, it was lots of fun. John's board steers by a combination of sail position and foot pressure...very much like nonplaning freestyle. Speaking of which, while I had trouble getting comfortable jibing the thing, I had some great "planing" helitacks...I say planing because I was moving 20mph upwind through the move...that never happens on the water. After a few runs I returned the rig, and John promptly let Jeff take a spin. Generous with his gear is John.