Eight Bells: Mark Kiefer US4695

Via Mike Miller US5369

Mark Kiefer, aka “The Ice Maker,” passed away on March 9, 2024, at the age of 71, after a short illness.

Mark was a passionate sailor and a long-time iceboater. He sailed out of the Wayzata Yacht Club and, in his younger days, raced a DN. Mark will always be known in the DN iceboat community as co-founder of the Great Western Challenge and the short-lived World Ice Racing Circuit. Mark served two terms as Commodore of the IDNIYRA from 2000 – 2001.


Mark grew up in Moorhead, MN, but spent many early winter days on the lakes of west-central MN, including Lake Christina in Ashby, MN. Mile Marker 8, along Christina’s northern shore, became the famous launch site of the Great Western Challenge.


Iceboaters have always considered plowing a track to race when snow prevented sailing. The Icemaker took that vision to the next level and founded the World Ice Racing Circuit. He enlisted a few sponsors and got enough funds to plow two tracks on Lake Phalen in St Paul, MN. Mark envisioned four abreast NASCAR-style racing with TV coverage. He even convinced the Paul Winter Carnival to make it an official carnival event with boats in the parade and a sideshow of a petting zoo!


Mark mentored many newbies into the DN sport. He freely shared his knowledge and often let newcomers take their first rides in his boat. His later years were spent without a suitable boat but he always championed his Great Western Challenge.


On a more personal note, I have fond memories of scouting ice with Mark. He taught me how to assess ice and introduced me to the numerous northern lakes suitable for racing. I think of Mark often as I have taken over his scouting duties.


We extend our deepest condolences to Mark’s family and friends during this difficult time. A private funeral is being planned.

World Ice Racing Circuit

Bob Dill US3904: Eight Bells

Read Bob’s obituary here.

The DN Community mourns with the family and friends of Bob Dill US3904, who passed away on October 28, 2023.

Bob served as IDNIYRA Class Secretary from 1988-1991 and Class Treasurer from 1988-1989. He has been nominated to the U.S. Sailing Hall of Fame.

Via Bob Schumacher, Bob’s DN road-warrior and land-yacht-speed-record colleague:

With much sadness I have to report that Bob Dill passed last night after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease. I am at a loss for words but Don Brush said it well.
‘A sad struggle for a unique person. He is, I am sure, in a better place now. He would not have wanted to be the person he had become. We all were better for knowing Bob. I don’t think I ever met a more inquisitive person with a passion for details. His passion for documentation assures his legacy will live on! It was an honor to know and have him as a friend.’ Don Brush
Bob Schumacher

Bob used his sharp engineering mind to quantify wind, ice, land, and speed in several articles. One of his most famous projects was designing and building the land sailing yacht IRON DUCK with his friend, Bob Schumacher. Together, they set a land-speed record.

Bob Dill has left a legacy of articles that have left a last impact on ice and land sailing. Below are some links to a selection of them and other articles about Bob.
Article’s About Bob Dill
National Sailing Hall of Fame Nominee
Bob Dill the Ice Man
Video: Iron Duck
Recognizing Bob Dill and the Iron Duck – Sailing Scuttlebutt

Bob Dill’s Articles
Iceboat Sailing Performance
Sailing Yacht Design for Maximum Speed
Lake Ice – Bob’s website with everything you need to know about ice.
List of Bob Dill Articles on IDNIYRA archived website

Bob Dill – From Vermont Sports

Harry “Buddy” Melges 1930 – 2023

Buddy Melges adjusts his sail at the 1975 IDNIYRA North American Championship on Lake Geneva. Photo: Henry Bossett

The IDNIYRA extends our deepest sympathies to the family of Buddy Melges US2974, one of the most incredible soft and hard water sailors of all time.

Buddy raced in nearly every class of iceboat, including the DN. He competed in two DN regattas in 1975, one of which involved Coast Guard helicopters and ice floes on Saginaw Bay in Michigan. See the stories and results below.

Sailors from all over have shared their stories about Buddy Melges on social media. DN class sailors have many of their own. Joe Norton US781 recalled the 1975 North American Championship qualification races when Buddy searched for the correct settings for sticky snow. Joe suggested a few and, in the next race, Joe started in the one or two blocks. Joe had a decent lead, and suddenly there was Buddy windward of him like a fast freight train and went on to win the race. Joe also recalled, “as much as Buddy loved iceboating, it didn’t hold a candle to his passion for duck hunting.”

Ron Sherry US44 won the 1997 Renegade Championship thanks to Buddy’s advice on easing the side stays on his Renegade. Ron commented, “If you make the people around you faster, you will also become quicker. Buddy followed this principle.”

In Memory of Mike Webber 1969-2021

In memory of Mike Webber. From the 2018 DN North American championship at Charlevoix Lake in Michigan.

The DN community extends our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mike Webber.

Mike Webber, KC 5591


The Nova Ice Yacht Club lost one of its most active members on March 17 and the IDNIYRA lost a newer, committed DN sailor.


Mike Webber, KC 5591, of Petite Riviere Nova Scotia was a professional mariner, a marine engineer. His marine engineering career began on the Great Lakes and then moved to the salt water where he worked in offshore support and then on tankers. Most recently he was the Chief Engineer and Chief Superintendent for the Polar Prince, a Lunenburg-based research icebreaker engaged in seismic surveys, contract icebreaking and other Arctic operations.


Mike was a life-long sailor, who spent some of his time off as a professional mariner cruising the Caribbean with his wife and children. Mike only started iceboating about five years ago. He quickly graduated from beaters to competitive DNs. When he upgraded his DN program he helped others get started by giving way his beaters. He improved his performance through practice and seeking the advice of more experienced DN sailors. Last year he won his first race, and regatta, when he won the Maritimes Championship on Lake Mush-a-Mush, Nova Scotia. He finished 7th in the Silver fleet at the 2020 North American Championships at Fort Peck, Montana.


Mike will be remembered for his sunny personality. He could be counted on for support when help was required. Eight days driving with him, from Nova Scotia to Montana and back, was eight days well spent. Mike was 51: it was too soon for him to go.


Mike’s full obituary can be seen at www.sweenysfuneralhome.com


Warren Nethercote, KC 3786

Bill Buchbinder: 1949-2020

Photo: Ron Sherry

The DN community extends our deepest sympathies to the family of Bill Buchbinder of Traverse City, Michigan. Ron Sherry described Bill as a “long time friend, sail maker, and iceboater. Worked with him at Boston Sails in the early 1970s. He will leave a big hole to fill in the Traverse City area”. Chris Clark wrote, “Bill was a great guy, exceptional craftsman.”