Catamount Hardware

Local ice boating and ice rescue expert Jay Whitehair is giving a talk at the Norwich Public Library on Wednesday (tomorrow), from 6-7pm. I’ll be there and am looking forward to it.

The library’s page about the event.

Here’s the library’s notes about the talk and about Jay:

Join us for this special event with competitive ice boat sailor and Master diver Jay Whitehair! Hear about what it’s like to work as a diver for rescues, recoveries, and environmental work; and to restore and race ice boats. Plus, pick up crucial ice safety tips for the winter – as more and more people get outside and onto the ice for activities like skating, sailing, walking, fishing, or just spending time on the ice surrounded by nature, knowledge and preparation are key for doing so safely and having the skills needed for emergencies is essential.

About Jay: Jay Whitehair built his first ice boat in 1979 and still smiles when recalling that it would not move under wind power alone. His second attempt folded in on itself. The third “was a beast and not much better”. Witnessing the failed attempts of a young and hopeful sailor, a resident at the pond walked out on the ice and handed Jay a set of plans for a DN ice boat. Fast forward 40+ years and Jay still competes against U.S., Polish, German and Russian pilots in the world’s fastest sailing community, International DN Gold Cup racing. Jay says racing ice boats is similar to driving an Olympic luge but without the limits of a predesigned course and where as many as 40 boats leave the starting line at the same time! Jay is Vice Commodore of the New England Ice Yacht Association and encourages everyone to come join the fun. No previous skills required!

Certified as a Master diver with specialties in emergency ice diving, sub ice recovery, swift water recovery, Jay recovers boats, vehicles and all things lost to the depths. He recently retired from the Hanover Fire Department where he helped source and develop their elite ice rescue program. In his spare time Jay restores and races vintage boats and harvests invasive weeds from local lakes and ponds.

— Christopher Boone