As modern sailors continue to push the limits of speed on the water, a resurgence in one of the sport’s oldest forms is emerging: ice sailing.
Practiced in winter months on lakes around the world; screaming across frozen water; powered only by the wind. This is the thrill of ice sailing, and it requires not only the promise of good weather but also an innate sense of fearlessness.
In search of adventure and an opportunity to test our new boots on the ultimate proving ground, we sent Waterlust, a crew of scientists and adventurers, to Siberia to explore a small corner of Lake Baikal during Baikal Sailing Week.
Settled just north of Mongolia in the icy heart of central Russia’s infamously cold Siberian province, the 12,248 square mile Lake Baikal is the deepest and largest lake (by volume) on earth. The lake is also one of the clearest and most incredible sights in the world. And in the winter, it also becomes one of the coldest.
For those struggling to see the scale of the lake, picture the Great Lakes all put together; then picture an even bigger lake; and then let the icy air of winter freeze over nearly every square inch of surface area. That’s Lake Baikal.
BAIKAL SAILING WEEK
We set out to meet with ice sailing’s boldest and bravest unsung heroes during what we’d call the “Super Bowl” of all ice sailing events: Baikal Sailing Week.
The one-week long event in Siberia draws in sailors from all over the globe in search of the only place on earth where crystal clear ice and powerful winds come together in this way.
The Waterlust crew set out to Russia’s icy Siberian frontier decked out in warm winter hats, winterized Sperry boots, and carrying thermoses with a limited supply of coffee and hot chocolate. Their goal: to test Sperry’s newest boot styles in the harshest, coldest climate imaginable – and to capture some incredible ice sailing moments on film.
Shop the Dockyard Alpine boot here.
SPERRY GETS PUT TO THE TEST
One product that our team invited the Waterlust crew to test – our new men’s Cold Bay boot – exceeded expectations in all areas. The boots are built with the most advanced cold weather gripping system from Vibram®, providing 3X more grip on slippery, wet ice.
Shop the Men’s Cold Bay boots, featuring Arctic Grip by Vibram® here.
Waterlust Founder Patrick Rynne was blown away by the technology. When asked to share feedback, he told us, “The new Vibram Arctic Grip on Sperry’s Cold Bay boot is deceptively sticky on ice. It feels like you have some kinda of ‘ice glue’ on the soles of your feet”
Patrick ties on ice skates and trades in grip for slip as he skates across Lake Baikal. Click the image or click here to shop the Cold Bay boot with Polar Ice Grip.
This was music to our ears, given how critical the right equipment can be in these glacial conditions. “While filming ice sailing in Siberia, traction and grip meant the difference between either getting a good shot, or slipping and breaking our equipment,” Patrick said.
“I remember one day, the wind was so strong and the ice was so slick that other people were having a hard time standing in one position without sliding sideways! But we had no trouble at all.”
Jennah Caster, who wore our Saltwater Misty boot, was similarly in awe: “It’s hard to believe there’s a boot out there that would be comfortable enough to wear for 2 weeks straight in a variety of temperatures and conditions. Not only did Sperry’s Saltwater Misty boots support me through 24 hours of travel halfway around the world, but once I arrived at frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia, it exceeded all my expectations for comfort and stability.”
“The iceboat sailors, geared up in their racing spikes, would look over in disbelief as we trekked across the ice with ease in our boots,” Jennah added. “I think they all expected that one of us, loaded up with camera equipment, would eventually slip, fall and need some help, but that moment never happened!”
Our new Powder Valley boot with Vibram® Polar Ice Grip technology and a Thinsulate liner was put to the test in Baikal as well.
Ocean scientist and adventurer Laura Graham wrote of her experience: “The distance we traveled to get to our final destination included multiple forms of transportation spanning the length of over 36 hours. The sherpa interior of the Powder Valley Polar Ice Grip Boots were so comfortable it felt like I was wearing slippers throughout all the flights, airport floor naps, buses, and other modes of transport that it took to get from Miami to Siberia.”
Shop the Powder Valley boot, featuring Vibram® Polar Ice Grip and a Thinsulate liner, here.
“When I was ultimately able to walk off the plane into the frigid Siberia temperatures, I felt like I had warm fuzzy hugs surrounding my feet,” Laura added. “Each time we stepped outside the cold air was an instant shock to our senses, but the tall shaft and fuzzy interior kept my feet and bottom of my legs feeling toasty for the immediate cold shock and for hours after.”
Laura’s sister Fiona Graham shared a similar sentiment, telling our Product Team that, “The boots were comfortable and warm! There were many occasions where we were out, walking around on the ice and filming all day […] being on our feet for so many hours and the brutal cold of the air and ice underfoot wasn’t easy for a boot to deliver on, but these got the job done! As a bonus, they kept us upright in the slippery conditions. Score!”
Check out Waterlust’s full-length film, “Hard Water” in the video below:
Patrick Rynne, Fiona Graham, Jennah Caster and Laura Graham are ocean scientists and adventurers at Waterlust, a purpose-driven company that travels the world to create films about water. Recognizing a shared passion for sea-based adventure, marine science, and a love for all things water, we’ve partnered with Waterlust to explore and embark on new Odysseys around the world.