Iceboaters take to the frozen Barnegat Bay

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Subzero temperatures have frozen the Barnegat Bay solid in parts. (WPVI)

Subzero temperatures have frozen the Barnegat Bay solid in parts and now instead of seeing sailboats cut through the water, you see iceboats skimming along the top at breakneck speeds.

"It's exhilarating. It's the best ride, the best thrill you'll get," Bill MacCormack of Toms River, NJ said.

Iceboating is a family affair for MacCormack as three generations bring their lightweight boats on to the icy bay, drawn by the thrill of speed.

His 77-year-old father-in-law says there's nothing like it.

"It's like taking off in a jet plane. You get that rush. The boat just flies off the ice on you," Fred Harrigfeld Sr. said. "You can be going 25 mph and then the next minute you can be doing 50 mph."

And the feeling of roaring across the ice at speeds that can go as high as 70, iceboaters say it's addictive.

"It's just a rush and as soon as the wind hits the sail you could feel it fill the pocket and the boat takes off like a bullet," Fred Harrigfeld Jr. said.

"It's like an out of body thing. You kind of lose yourself in the wind and the boat," Bridget MacCormack said.

These are basically sailboats fitted with skis or runners to help glide over the ice. The surface is referred to as hard water.

The ice is about six or seven inches thick right now and carefully checked. Iceboaters get a running start and then hop in the cockpit. They steer with a tiller and spend most of the time on their back so the wind will flow across the top of them and they don't get hit in the head by the boom.

"I think it's pretty amazing. I've lived here my whole life I've never seen it before," Lauren Peters said.

Bridget and her father Bill compete in iceboating races and say this sport is not for the faint of heart. But for those who embrace the rush of sailing across the top of the bay at breathtaking speeds, iceboating is the answer.

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n.j. newsboatingboatsICEToms River
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