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To fulfill need for speed, sailors take to the ice

By Aaron Akinyemi for CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Competitive ice sailors can reach speeds of 100 mph
  • Competitors typically wear goggles, crash helmets
  • European DN Championships were held recently
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For more on hard water sailing and the DN European Championships, watch MainSail on CNN at the following times: Saturday, March 26, 1130, 1930; Thursday, March 31, 0730, 1030; Saturday, April 2, 0530; Sunday, April 3, 0930 (all times GMT)

(CNN) -- For sailing enthusiasts with a need for speed, there's nothing quite like ice yachting -- a sport that sees sailors careen down vast expanses of ice in narrow boat hulls at breakneck speed.

The adrenaline-pumping winter sport, which allows sailors to reach speeds in excess of 100 mph, takes the traditional sea vessel out of its maritime comfort zone and adapts it for the hard surface of frozen lakes and rivers.

Although it may sound new to some, ice yachting has a long history stretching back to at least the 18th century, when it was used both recreationally and as a winter form of transport in Europe and America.

Early models of the ice yacht had large sail areas, but as it developed as a sport in the first half of the 20th century, the sail area of ice yachts became smaller in order to increase speed and improve stability.

Sailing on ice at the DN championships

The International DN (its name comes from the Detroit News media organization, which sponsored the DN ice yacht design in the 1930s) is arguably one of the most popular iceboat classes.

Serious ice sailors take part in competitions such as the annual Gold Cup World DN Championship and regional events such as the recently held European Championships. Calls are also mounting for the sport to be taken more seriously and included in the Winter Olympics.