WISSA 2020 News

Surfing school students building their iceboards

November 26, 2019

Text by Jaano Martin Ots

In the fall season of 2019, the youth of the Aloha Watersports School in Pärnu spent one training day each week at the MakerLab Pärnu Workshop, building a windsurfing iceboard (also called "sled").

Made by experienced instructors, the sled is suitable for younger and lighter riders. The idea to build iceboards for themselves came from Aloha Water Sports School head coach Eleri Birk after a winter windsurfing test day previous winter.
“Everyone liked it, but the sleds cost a lot. We thought we would build the sleds ourselves and allow kids to create something with their own hands,” Birk explained. The ideas were supported by the MakerLab Pärnu Workshop, which provided the facilities and tools to make the details of the sleds.
Americo Kaevand, the leader of MakerLab Pärnu, a job training teacher, said he is pleased with the young surfers, because they can learn something new with pratical output.

Aloha Watersports School head coach Eleri Birk and student Siim-Silver Link working at the board. Photo: Jaano Martin Ots


The iceboard is a bit shorter than than usual adult boards, but is similar to the four-skate slalom sleds that are otherwise used for windsurfing on ice. The Aloha Water Sports School sled is not a copy of any known product, but an original creation.
"While we looked at the drawings of the factory sleds and consulted with the other builders of the sleds to make our model," Birk said.
The design of the sled was assisted by Boris Ljubtšenko, the world champion of ice surfing, Americo Kaevand, the leader of MakerLab, and Tõnis Salong and Koit Teder, the winter windsurfers and sled builders from Viljandi.

Eleri Birk, head coach of the Aloha Water Sports School, attaches a mast and a cardan to the prototype. Photo: Jaano Martin Ots


The pupils of Aloha took part in all stages of making a sled, from designing the project to assembling it.
In addition to the already completed sled, the youth of the Aloha Watersports School are hoping to build four more surfing iceboards, which would also provide a chance to compete among themselves and go out with a larger team. In order to purchase the materials and parts needed, the Aloha Watersports School applied for the autumn round of the local initiative program.

Surfing is also possible on earth
The iceboard is operated by skate beams moving on the skateboards, with a normal windsurfing rig attached to the sled. Footbeds and non-slip rubber mat make it easy to stay on the sled. Also, it is possible to change the skates to the wheels and ride it on asphalt or wet beach sand.

Test run on asphalt. Photo: Eleri Birk


The control of a surfing carriage is similar to skateboarding, with the base rotating in the direction in which it is tilted and the turn radius dependent on the strength of the tilting. Ordinary windsurf sails are used for sailing on ice or on the ground. Because the water resistance is greater than the resistance on ice or the rolling resistance on land, a smaller sail should be used on windsurfing at the same strength as when surfing in water
When new surfing sleds are ready and ice conditions allow, coach Birk hopes to include ice windsurfing in his winter training plan.

In February 2020, the World Surfing Championships will be held in Pärnu, Estonia.

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