Years ago I had the pleasure to witness something I had never seen. I grew up on the coast, so I’m familiar with sailing, but we were nowhere near the ocean. No where near any water in fact. But there it was, a big sail coming into view across the desert.
I thought like anybody would in this situation. I’ve gone crazy from the heat. Then I remembered those hallucinations from the heat and air. Mirages. That must be it. Or, yep, I’ve gone crazy.
The closer it got the more I realized “This is something completely different. This is a new kind of crazy.”
I was right that time. It was a land yacht. It made me laugh the first time I heard it too. They are real though. They’re also REAL FUN!
Some historians believe land sailing goes as far back as ancient Egypt. Makes sense. They had sails, they had sand. I’m sure someone put the two together like we have.
In China too, during the Liang Dynasty, there are mentions of vehicles powered by wind on land. Mentions from other cultures thousands of years ago pop up here and there. These were used for transporting materials and people though. It wasn’t until recently it became a recreation sport. One that is growing more popular all the time. In 1898 a pair of Belgium brothers, the Dumont's', made what is considered the first modern land yacht. It was used as a sport and recreation vehicle which led to the first race of the sport in 1909.
Around this time, they started being mass produced. Mostly in France by Louis Bleriot. A French vehicle maker. The vehicle was sold under the name AEROPLANE. Unfortunately, the world was about to be plunged into chaos.
World War 1 and 2 put the production of sandyachts on hold almost everywhere. Except France. Henry Demaury built several for the Touquet region. And the first land yacht club was formed there in 1950.
Since then, the sport has grown in popularity. Spreading all across the world. Though it’s mostly just for fun these days. And it is a lot of fun.
What you need
There’s not a lot you need for land sailing. The two obvious ones are wind and sand, or flat ground. Like the plains grasslands. I soooo want to land sail with the bison.
Then there's the cart. There are 4 main types of modern carts.
- Standart - the standard cart
- Mini-cart - little smaller than the standard; more beginner friendly
- Class 3 - larger cart; the fastest cart too
- Class 5 - mainly a competition cart
Most of the carts are single seat but they do make carts for 2. For all those adrenalin seeking couples out there. But you could make a nice romantic land sail if you like. Sailing is romantic, or can be, why not land sailing.
As far as protective gear goes you need goggles, a helmet, maybe gloves,and dress for the weather. It can be done year round and in the rain. Though my attitude towards this seems to be the same as my fishing attitude.
[ If I’m catching and it starts raining I’ll stay, but I’m not leaving the dock in the rain.]
As the name implies, sand yachting is done on sand. It is also done on ice. Grass too. I prefer sand or grass. Falling on ice hurts. Bad. You might not think it but these yachts go fast. Usually up to about 50 mph. But some of them can go up to 120 or maybe a little more. With nothing between you and the surface you're on, that’s fast folks. Hitting the ice doing 100 mph does not sound like my idea of fun anymore. Sounds like an idea that hopefully my better half will say “ Maybe you should rethink this.” But if you are into adrenaline, and are one of those I have no fear types, by all means please do it. I will take pictures and write the article.
So controlling a sand yacht is pretty easy. I guess that’s relative to how fast you’re going. Anyway, you have a bar that you put your feet on. Push left and turn right. Push right and go left. I think the idea behind it is like leaning into the turn. If you push on the right side, to turn left, you would lean to the left.
If you’ve ever rode a motorcycle you might understand it. Or any kind of bike. You know how when you were a kid and you would lean waaay over to turn. Sam principle here.
Speed is controlled by the sail. Luckily there's only one. Tighter makes you go faster. Looser slows you down. There’s a cord, or rope you hold in your hands for this. Once you’re actually doing all this it will make a lot more sense. Some things you just have to do to apreciate.
So that’s it. Now you’re ready to go out land sailing. It’s definitely worth a try. This really is an adventure on 3 wheels. One that can be quite an adrenaline ride. It CAN also be just a fun day on the beach, or grass, or ice. Control your speed, use common sense, learn to enjoy the ride. See you out there.