Blasting down the beach with your backside inches above the ground makes land yachting one of the most exhilarating sports I have tried. Powered purely by the wind in my sails, I joined a posse of stockbrokers who were intent on fulfilling their need for speed.
I tried land yachting as an outdoor activity gift from my wife through Red Letter Days. Activity gifts are one of the best ways to guarantee successful gift giving, at least for me.
What is Land Yachting?
If you love the idea of sailing along at high speed but don’t want to get wet or risk falling overboard, land yachting is just the outdoor activity to satisfy you. You get to Harness the power of the wind and get such a rush as you speed along the sand of a beach.
Land yachting is sometimes called land sailing or sand yachting, but can be done on any large area of flat open land. Beaches, dry lake beds and private airports are the favourite locations because they are flat and open to the wind.
The land yacht had three wheels for stability. In case you didn’t realise, it can be quite a challenge to get a four wheeled vehicle to have all four wheels evenly on the ground unless you put in some decent suspension. Land yachts don’t have suspension, and so you feel all of the bumps and bounces. Traction is provided through wind blowing in a large triangular sail attached to a mast mounted at the front of the land yacht. You sit in a very reclined position and hold onto a rope that pulls the sail in or releases it.
Do I need to be able to Sail to Control a Land Yacht?
Sailing a land yacht is far simpler than sailing a boat. There is no risk of waves, capsizing or falling overboard. Also, because you are lying down in the land yacht, there is no risk of being hit by the sail boom when you tack across the wind.
Your instructor will tell you the circuit for the day in relation to the wind and the technique for getting around corners to keep the wind. All you have to do is pull the sail rope and steer to avoid any of the other land yachts, dogs, people on the beach.
How to Control a Land Yacht
You steer a land yacht with two pedals, left and right. Some land yachts have hand levers for steering, but that only leaves one hand free for pulling the sail rope.
If you are facing the right way, all you need to do to get the land yacht moving is to pull the sail rope tight and keep it held tight. You musn’t loop the rope around your hands though, because if the rope pulls too much you could get rope burns or cuts. Land yacht racers usually wear gloves to protect their hands.
The tighter you pull the sail rope, the faster the land yacht will go, as long as you are not heading directly into the wind. As with any sailing sport, you have to work out which direction the wind is blowing to get the most speed. If you get it right, you find yourself hurtling down the beach with a rather huge grins on your face. Tight turns can lead to flying along on only two wheels, which is a bit hairy but awesome fun.
The Thrill of Land Yachting at High Speed
Video of Land Yachting
My Land Yachting Gift Experience
Whenever I get a gift experience I always open it with a sense of trepidation, wondering what experience I will be getting myself into. The Tiger Moth flight was a bit scary, mostly because people kept telling me that they had had dreams of me crashing and also because you didn’t get parachutes.
I was very excited when I opened the Red Letter Days envelope with a gift voucher for land yachting. It was something I had wanted to try for quite a while. I booked the two hour session on a beach near Rye in Kent and eagerly awaited that windy day.
It was easy to find, not least becuase of the big van plastered with signs for the land yachting company. The guys running the day were busy setting up the land yachts, which were left lying on their sides so that the wind didn’t blow them down the beach before time. There were quite a few rather nice cars parked at the side of the road, and talking to the other peope waiting most of them were stockbrokers. Land yachting must be one of those sports that attract people who have a need for that adrenalin rush. Engineering doesn’t necessarily give you such a buzz, but using some of the things you design certainly does.
We were given a brief training session on safety and how to control the land yacht. Then it was pretty much in you get and of you go. At first, it was a bit tricky getting around the first corner because you had to cross the head wind. If you didn’t turn quickly enough, you slowed down and stopped facing the wind. No amount of tugging on that sail rope would get you moving. the instructors stood on that corner to help get you moving again. After a few laps, I got the hang of it. At this point the instructors called me over to the centre to stop. I wondered what was up, and then they increased the height of the mast, which in turn unfurled more sail. This meant more speed! Awesome!
I was back out into the circuit and amazed by the increase of speed from increasing the sail size. One by one, the other bankers were pulled over to have a mast extension. Things then became quite competitive. Overtaking and racing ensued. I got such a thrill from overtaking others and a great sense of satisfaction if one of them lost the wind on a corner.
All in all, the two hours whizzed by and I was left wanting more.
How can I get to try Land Yachting?
You do need a licence to sail a land yacht on a public beach in the UK. The best way is to find a land yacht racing club.
If you want to buy your own land yacht, Blokarts are the most popular brand. The Potty is a UK land yacht design that will fit into the boot of your car.
If you want to try land yachting, you can buy land yachting gift vouchers from Red Letter Days..