History of Ice boating in Latvia

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History of Ice boating in Latvia

by Maris Dale

We do not know the name of the craftsman, who for the first time fitted his row-boat with runners and sails, so that elegantly dressed people could enjoy travelling on frozen channels and lakes even in the most frosty weather. It is supposed that this man has lived in Harlem or its neighbourhood at the beginning of the 17th century... The real sailing was initiated by the Baltic Germans. They were well-to-do people, some of them being engineers by profession. And sailing grew from everyday necessity into a kind of sports for pleasure. It is known that already in 1913, Riga sports society invited Stockholm’s yacht-club for the competition. Unfortunately, because of unsuitable weather conditions, this race did not take place.

The most active ice-boat builders gathered in Riga yacht-club, which had its sports centre located in the rather remote place Mezaparks. It is popular also nowadays among professionals and amateurs. Harijs Juhters, the member of this club, was one of the first most serious and remarkable designers of ice-boats in Latvia. In March 1926 the first international ice-boat week in Latvia took place on the ice of lake Kisezers. 15 ice-boats participated. Two from Germany, one from Estonia, the rest were local boats. At that time there were already fixed racing rules.

The boats were divided into two classes - those having sail area up to 15 m2 and those - up to 20 m2. Racing with the ice-boat "Princis Hercules", Vjacasiav Kanskis, Riga's notary, took the third place in the first race. Not very long after 1926 the name of his foster-son became popular not only in Latvia but also behind its’ borders.

What is the opinion of basketball players?

Basketball describes and some historians consider the 1937 European championship in basketball as the first continental contest which look place in Riga. Still, ice-boat sailors on their turn, have written in their history that the first European championship in this kind of sports took place on the ice of Kisezers from March 26 - 31 in 1929. The international ice-yachting races gathered enthusiasts of this kind of sports mostly from the Northern parts of Europe.

In 1928 the international commission was founded and racing rules accepted in RIGA. One year later this commission became European lce-Yachting Union (EEU), and its centre for the following 10 years was located in Riga. The end of March, 1929... The European title (then they called it - Master) was gained only in one ice-boat class - with the sail area up to 20 m2. Arnts Juhters, the sailor of Riga yacht-club, became the first European master racing with the boat "Reveta" designed by his father H. Juhters and built in Riga. He was the first representative of Latvia who became the champion of the continent. Also 2nd and 3rd places in the first European championship were taken by the members of Riga yacht-club - H. Sreders-Erbeks with "Satans" and Dz. Mersics with "Speed". All Swedes and Estonians were left behind by the magnificent three.

Kisezers gathered thousands of spectators during races. For three more times European championships in ice-yachting took place in Riga during thirties - in 1934, 1935 and 1937. But the newly developed tradition of organising international ice-yachting weeks on Kisezers continued existing since 1926. Our northern neighbours Estonians had perfect ice conditions and soon they began to exceed in ice-boat construction. Only in 1934, when European Championship took place on Kisezers again, Dz. Harsics with crew member H. Gubins were lucky to win back Master's title from Estonians. At that time the steering wheel was not constructed into the iceboat. One by one Dutchmen, Germans, Austrians, Polish and representatives from other countries became more active. In the international regatta in Germany (Arensburg) 52 ice-boats from 8 countries participated.

First place was taken by Marsic/Gubins from Riga. In the pre-war years Karlis Kauke-Dauge with "Vita" became the winner of European Champonship, sailors from Riga took also second, third and fourth places, but nevertheless, Estonians Erik von Holst’s, E. Gahlnbäck, E. Kuzmanov and others reaped laurels more often than Latvians. The first Latvian championship in ice-yachting took place in 1938. The master's title was gained by B. Taube with the boat "Teff I" in the very popular at that time 12 m class. In the late thirties 23 ice-boats were registered in Latvia's yacht-club: seven in "15 m2 Monotype" class, eight in 12 m2 class, three in 10 m2 class, three in 20 m2 class, two in 15 m2 (free) class. That was a real fleet, similar to which, perhaps, Estonians only had. Others had much less winter yachts. After October 13, 1944 only three ice-boats were left in Riga. In the post-war years, Central water motoyacht - club was founded instead of the former Riga yacht-club.

Nikolai Artemjev had been appointed as the director. In February 1946 the ice of Kisezers welcomed the first All-Union contest. Ice-sailors from Arkhangelsk, Gorky, Taganrog, Moscow, Leningrad, Liepaja, Tallinn and Riga were present. The competitions were held in the "Monotype XV" class. The fight for victory turned out between the Cucelov brothers, the crew from Estonia, and the best Latvian crew J. Kanskis/N. Artemjevs. Estonians proved to be better. In 1948, when the 2nd all-Union regatta took place on Kisezers, the local sailors were the best in all three classes. The competitions in the "Monotype XV" class ended with the victory of V. Stolcers and his crew member A. Rebelis. In the 12 m2 class the winners were J. Kanskis/L. Platkajis, second - brothers Lazurkas.

The first in the 20 m2 class were O. Aldersons and T. Steinbrehts, followed by Jurkovs and A. Freidis. The average speed record of the contest was 81,08 km/h, reached by V. Stolcers with the ice-boat "Liesma" in the "Monotype XV" class in spring of 1950. In 1955 Jevgenij Kanskis won gold medal in the USSR Championship in Kisezers. In the 1956 All-Union Championship gold medals were won by B. Jurkovs and J. Kanskis, bronze by A. Berzins and J. Dzitars and some more Latvian sailors ranked among the first ten. A peculiar record for Latvia was achieved in 1957 in Leningrad championship, where sailors from Riga took the first places in all classes - J. Kanskis (12 m2 ), V. Stolcers ("Monotype-XV") and R. Vikmanis (20 m2). J. Circenis and J. Kulakovskis won bronze medals. New names appeared among the juniors like J. Klive, E. Taunins, M. Dale, J. Kreigers, R. Berdas. The 1959 USSR Championship took place in Aluksne. J. Kanskis became champion of the USSR in his class. Year 1961, Lake Aluksne. Our sailors won the sixth place (E. Taunins). The 1962 USSR Campionship was held on Daugava.

The first "DN" class ice-boats were built in five days under the leadership of H. Strals, the coach of Riga Central yacht-club ("Bigelbogeia", "Tingentangela"). After one week J. Kreigers and M. Dale took accordingly fourth and fifth places in the USSR Championship in Tallinn. They acquired the title "Master of sports of the USSR", so very important for those times. That was in April, 1969. In 1977 European championship DN was held in Krinic, Poland. Rolands Berdas won bronze medal competing with 60 sailors. Many of our sailors (R. Berdas, G. Rozenbergs, E. Smiltenieks, I. Bukovskis, V. Briedis) have achieved remarkable results in the highest group of the "DN" class both in European and World Championships.

Briefly about J. Kanskis...

Jevgenijs Kanskis gained (1907 - 1986) for 13 times the champion title of the USSR in sailing (both in summer and winter). But he had never been included in the team of the best sailors of the USSR who took part in the Olympic Games, European or World Championships, because he had kind of "improper biography". In his youth, during thirties, he competed a lot abroad, especially in France, not only as a sailor, but also as a professional race driver. He knew several foreign languages. J. Kanskis won his last gold medal at the age of 72 in the USSR championship in Haapsalu...





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This page was last updated on 10-sep-2017.