The definition of LANDSAILING: a sailboat that travels on small wheels on the surface of land.
Can this count as extreme? An extreme sport?
Well, it is the speed that this sport can reach that elevates it into the extreme sport bracket. Moving over sand and land using a craft with wheels and carrying a sail for propulsion by the wind, and being entirely dependent on wind, is a skilful task.
A landyacht that is sailing downwind can reach no greater speed than that of the wind itself. But a landyacht, when it sails across the wind rather than being pushed along by it, can reach much faster speeds – up to 5 times as fast as the wind. This is because it creates its own wind from the velocity of its movement and this greatly supplements the natural wind – and so great speeds can be achieved.
Now we’re talking. This is putting the sport comfortably into the extreme catagory.
Due to the lightweight and aerodynamic build, racing yachts boost to top speed in about 5 seconds. Turning markers are usually taken at full speed!
The landyacht is a wind-driven board, usually light and comparatively small, mounted on 3 wheels. The front wheel is attached to a control system. The sail is about 5 square meters in area – this is variable depending on which model you have. The ‘sailor’, who is commonly called a ‘pilot’, sits on the board (or can lie on it), while using his hands and feet to control the craft using pedals or hand levers. The landyacht uses no fuel.
The sport works best in windy, flat areas, and races often take place on beaches, air fields or dry lakebeds in desert regions. A gust of wind is considered more beneficial in a land sailing race than a favorable windshift.
The speed of the landyacht depends on its type. They are built for the purpose of speed and can go up to 100 mph. The world record is held by Bob Schumacher (USA) in 2001,the Iron Duck, which reached the speed of 116.7 mph (188 km/h) in a wind of aproximately 30 mph. The Iron Duck was going at a speed of about 4 times the speed of wind.
Landsailing is quite easy to learn. The easiest way to start is to attend an event – local events are generally better as they are more relaxed although any event will do. Landsailors love to talk about the sport… so they say! Of course you will need a craft.
An extreme sport we have touched on once or twice, and similar to landsailing, is ice yachting – obviously practised on frozen lakes and rivers.
It is practiced in England, Poland, Norway and Sweden, but is very popular in Holland and Finland. However, its highest development is in America and Canada.
Another spin-off of this sport is Parakarting, or kite buggying, but more on these later I think… after all, one extreme sport at a time!