I got a call today from an iceboating buddy who set up his stern steerer on the lake. There was no wind sadly but the sails where up and she was a sight to see!
A stern steerer was the original iceboat. Ice Yachts they were called. Built like, steered like, and sailed similar to the sailboats they mimicked. They where big, difficult to travel with and hard to set up without a lot of help. But they were fast. All that sail area, combined with weight for stability meant they went fast.
They also had the ability to hold two or three people.
So in the 1930’s (1937 to be exact) a call went out through the Detroit News publication for a new ice boat design. Something that was small enough for one person to set up, a design that could be placed on top of a car for the ease of transportation and finally, a design that could be built by and individual with the tools and supplies they could obtain to use.
The winning design was picked and 50 people were offered to come in and build these in the Detroit News workshop.
The “Blue Streak 60” was born. It went from a stern steerer to an iceboat that had a front runner you steered. It easily came apart, and could be topped on a car for transportation
The boat eventually became to be known as the DN60 and today we just call it the DN. The DN stands for Detroit News. Homage to the humble boats origins. The 60 referred to the size of the sail which is exactly 60 square feet. Since the DN is considered a class of boats and the sail size is always the same there is no need to have the 60 in the name.
The DN’s have changed some, but even today’s boats look similar to the ones 80 years ago.
But it’s always great to see the stern steerers from 100 or more years ago. My hat tips to the people keeping those boats alive and running.