It's not just the rush of sidesplitting speeds of up to 90 miles per hour, it's the anticipation of rare competition that brings fellow racers together. "If there isn't enough ice or the winds aren't right, we have to wait it out," says Tom Nichols, who's won multiple ISA Skeeter World Championships. "It can be frustrating to call in to your boss and say you're going to be a few days late because the race keeps getting postponed. But then when you finally get off and running, it's a treat, because you know it didn't come easy." The length of the season ultimately depends on your willingness to travel and whether nature brings an unseasonably warm December and January. "I'm in the northern part of New Jersey
" Nichols says, "We've had poor winter conditions in the past, so sailing locally was zilch." The only solution, according to Nichols, was to pack up and go to Upper Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, or Maine. Boaters will show up and, if the weather isn't what they expected, will drive hundreds of miles, sometimes through treacherous conditions, in search of the perfect glide. If iceboaters sound like zealots, that's because they often are. Nichols says many make major financial commitments, traveling all the way to Hungary's Balaton, a 50-mile-long lake revered by many as the best racing venue anywhere.