Skim Over The Ice With… A SKATER’S SAIL (Feb, 1959)

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Skim Over The Ice With… A SKATER’S SAIL

SKATE sailing might be described as the fastest pedestrian sport in the world except for jaywalking on the Hollywood Freeway. And until something comes along to top its 50 to 60-mile-per-hour maximum speeds, that claim will stand.

All that’s required to take up this exciting pastime are a pair of skates, a good stretch of ice and a sail that can be made at negligible cost in any home workshop.

For sail material use either unbleached muslin or lightweight sailcloth. The sail area is 55 square feet but an extra few feet of material should be purchased to allow for basting and seam reinforcement.

The sail will have a mid-seam and a V-shaped insert in the forward end. Lay down two lengths of sailcloth with their selvage edges parallel to the long free sides of the sail and bordering the V insert. Cut along pre-drawn pattern lines (but leave enough border to reinforce the mid-seam and edges). All corners should be double thickness to prevent tearing. All edges and the mid-seam must be reinforced with heavy non-stretching tape. Set the 3×10-inch plastic windows just back of the mast, one above and one below the boom.

Spars made in two sections are easier to tote. Use straight-grained spruce for these. The illustrated sail has metal spars made from TV antenna tubing which is also very satisfactory.

Wooden spars should have a 1-1/2-inch middle diameter and taper to one inch at the ends. The mast should be four inches longer than the width of the sail, with a small hole bored near each end. The boom should be 12 inches longer than the sail, with a small hole three inches from the back end. Through these holes, and the grommets of the sail, pass the lashings that draw the sail taut.

Jointed spars use a ferrule of 18-gauge brass about a foot long. Attach one spar section in the ferrule and leave the other free to be inserted when rigging the sail.

This sail requires front and tail bows, the front to be made in two sections. Rattan is the best wood for these. The bows, which are varnished, should be one inch at their center diameters and taper to a half-inch at the ends.

To rig the sail, lay it flat with the jib pocket up. Place the mast on the sail and fasten each end with the 15-inch line. Pull the sail taut and insert the front end of the boom in the jib pocket. Then use the lashing to pull the sail tight. Lash the spars securely where they cross.

Now let’s go skating. To start, lay your sail on the ice, spars up. Pick it up so the boom rests on your shoulder and grasp the mast at a comfortable spot below the boom. Stand with the sail shielding you from the wind and point it about 45° off the direction from which the wind is blowing. Lean into the wind and you’ll start sailing.

To stop, grasp the mast above your head with your outside hand and swing the sail over your head and parallel with the ice. To sail down wind, use a series of short tacks.

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