Usually when summer ends in Northern Europe so does the sailing season. Sometime in October, boats are lifted out of the water for winter, and sailors have to focus more on land oriented activities. But not here in this part of the Baltic Sea. A whole new sailing season starts in Estonia for adrenaline junkies, and those who just can't stay off the sea. This is sailing on hard-water, also known as ice sailing.
Sailing on ice looks cool and sounds exotic, but is actually pretty simple. Essentially it is a sledge with ice-blades and a sail to make it move. Estonia is one of the birthplaces of ice sailing, and offers excellent conditions in Haapsalu and Pärnu for your first ice-trial, or even to compete with the best sailors in the world, once you are ready for the European or World Championships. Be sure to try ice sailing also in Saaremaa, Võrtsjärv or Saadjärv.
From trading to sailing for fun on ice
Sailing on ice was actually a mode of transportation in the 17th century – to transport goods from one side of the frozen lakes and bays to the other. In winter, traditional vessels were modified by strapping blades or runners to the hull. Sailing on ice is extremely fast – this is what attracted more and more people and turned it into a sport. Speeds can easily be over 100 km per hour (60 mph) because of the really low friction between metal blade and ice.