The DN ice yacht world remains a mystery to most sailors. Leading iceboat and rig builder Jeff Kent and fellow DN championship winner James Thieler give some insight...

The apparent wind is moving forward in the sailing world. Skiffs remain popular, wing-sail multihulls will race in the ­America's Cup, Moths and other boats are foiling, and monohulls are going faster and faster. Spinnaker poles have been giving way to bowsprits for a long time. Reducing aero-drag has become more critical as boat speeds increase and apparent wind angles are frequently or always ahead of the beam. This is exciting for sailing in general – it is also a continuation of what has been going on in ice yachts for decades.

But the speed and power generated when using large doses of apparent wind present some interesting problems and require some equally interesting solutions. ­Particularly of note is the most popular DN class, where boat speeds between four and six times the true wind speed are the norm. Boat speeds generally now top out in the 60-65mph range, while speeds in the high 40s and low 50s are commonplace.

DN sailors and spar makers, including the DN enthusiasts here at Composite Solutions (CSI), have developed some unusual rigs to cope with and utilise the very high apparent wind speeds involved.

Overview
While this article will deal with rigs and sails in particular, some background information on the boat itself will be helpful. The original DN design dates from the late 1930s, the result of a design contest ­sponsored by the Detroit News...

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