Skimming along on your back a few inches above the ice, even 25 miles per hour seems fast. The shore rushes toward you with startling speed, and when you turn to tack, the sail’s boom threatens to scrape your face as the sail switches from one side of the boat to the other.

One of the many challenges in iceboating — sailing on frozen lakes with boats that speed on metal runners — is finding the right conditions.

Not only do racers need enough wind to fill their sails, but they also need a nice, big sheet of ice frozen to a safe level of thickness but without a layer of a snow that would bog down the runners.

That’s why top iceboaters are willing to haul themselves and their boats across the country — and the world — to Minnesota on the first weekend of every December, when conditions are usually right somewhere in the state for the Great Western Challenge, the kickoff of the iceboating season.

Courtesy: Richard Chin, Pioneer Press