Sport

The sub-zero daredevils who sail on ice

By Sheena McKenzie, For CNN

Updated 1224 GMT (2024 HKT) February 23, 2015
Share
wissa kitewingerwissa kitewinger
1 of 16
This is a sailing event with a difference -- there's no water in sight. Welcome to the World Ice and Snow Sailing Championships, which wrapped u p last week. Click through the gallery for spectacular images from the 2015 event. Courtesy WISSA
For over three decades, daredevils from across the globe have gathered for the competition, this year set on picturesque Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin, U.S. Courtesy WISSA
"People who love the winter and the outdoors are captivated by this sport because it takes tremendous strength and endurance," said race official Richard Liepins. Courtesy WISSA
Competitors hail from across the globe -- this year's youngest competitor is a 16-year-old Russian, the oldest a 71-year-old Canadian. Courtesy WISSA
The championships first started in Helsinki, Finland, in 1980. The competition in Estonia in 1991 saw the first hand held sail, while the 1993 event in Poland was the first official start for kites. Courtesy WISSA/Stefan Soderlund
"When the colorful sails and kites reflect the sun off the ice and snow, it's to behold," said Liepins. Courtesy WISSA
The competition includes three classes: sled, kite, and wings. Here, kitewingers carve across the frozen lake. Courtesy WISSA
"This lake was chosen for the WISSA 2015 because the Niagara Escarpment creates the perfect wind conditions for winter sailing," explained Mary Denis, Fond du Lac Area special projects manager. Courtesy WISS/Stefan Soderlund
The enormous lake has over 140km of shoreline, with icy winds traveling at 30kph. Courtesy WISSA
"This is the longest lasting windsurfing event in a world," said Liepins. Here, kitewingers cross the finish line in style. Courtesy WISSA/Molly Jaster
Ice sleds get into position before the starting line. Courtesy WISSA
Sun breaks through clouds during the ice sled competition. Courtesy WISSA
"Winter windsurfing -- also known as 'kiting' -- is not only about competing, but meeting and socializing," said Liepins. Courtesy WISSA
"Lake Winnebago in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, is one of the largest inland lakes in North America," explained Denis. "The average depth is only 12 feet." Courtesy WISSA
An ice sled competitor navigates a windy course at the championships. Courtesy WISSA
The 2016 championships are set to be held in Sweden, with a host city still to be decided.
Courtesy WISSA