RED BANK, NJ – In 1856 George Allaire, George Whiting and Nathan Cook sailed the first ice boats on the Navesink River in Red Bank. They experimented with several designs using 3 and 4 runners, as well as lateen and gaff rig sails and masts. It turned out that the 3 runner designs were superior in performance and they are still used today.

In 1880 Dr. Edwin Field  and a group of Red Bank sailors founded the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht club on the south bank of the Navesink River. The club is still active today and sails many boats designed and built in the 1800s, Including the Rocket from 1888.

In 1900-3 Thomas Edison came to Red Bank to film ice boats on several occasions. They were short silent films that depicted many boats and Red Bankers enjoying the winter ice.

The Irwin Family sailed many class A stern steering boats since the early 1900s. Among the family members were Charles, Joseph and grandson Channing.

Calhoun Smith  designed and built some of the first DN ice boats in Red Bank in the 1950s.1. He also wrote a well known book about the subject. DNs are single seat boats that carry 60 square feet of sail. It is the most popular ice boat class in the world.

George Fournier was a Yankee designer and builder along with 6 other NSIB&YC members. George sailed Yankees on the Navesink and North Jersey lakes for 50 years. He was a great builder and sailor.

Yankee Design

John Darling was long time member of the NSIB&YC and built and rebuilt many 1800s style yacht until his death in 1992. A race course safety mark known as the Darling mark was named in his honor.

David Clapp was a pioneer designing and sailing A skeeters, a very fast bow steerer with 75 square feet of sail area. Dave passed at a very young age of 52 for an ice boater since many of his colleagues sail well into their 60s and 70s. They are rarely sailed in Red Bank or Long Branch because of their great speed and need for space.

Bill George  sailed A skeeters all over North America and he passed at a young age of 53 while doing what he loved , sailing on ice in Wisconsin.

Ira, Jack and George Miller sailed their Class A Rainbow on the Navesink for decades. The boat is now sailed in the mid west.

Art Apy, Dan Clapp and Mark Peterson revolutionized ice boating with his 1990s high efficiency design wising carbon fiber and cockpit canopies. Their designs established a whole new class of boats, still carrying 75 square feet of sail, but attaining much higher speeds.

Rocket – 1st Class Yacht

In 2009 the NSIB&YC completed restoration of the rocket from 1888. The boat carries more than 800 square feet of sail and is really designed for sailing on the Hudson river and northern lakes where the ice reaches a thickness of one foot of more.

The Van Nostrand cup has been sailed for since the 1800s by the Red Bank., Long Branch and Poughkeepsie clubs. It has been kept in a Red Bank safe for decades. It is the Americas cup of ice yachting and is sailed for by 1800s vintage class A yachts.


Paul Sniffen is a 5th generation Red Banker who has sailed on Jersey ice and waters since the 1950s.

AHHerald relies on advertising to support our operations.
When you click an affiliate link we may earn a commission.

Avatar photo

Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...