Buckle up

On the island of Bonaire in the Netherlands Antilles, wind is the most important ingredient for spending a day on the world’s biggest landsailing track along the island’s northeast coast. The brightly colored sails of Blokarts poke at a blue sky as their tires spin madly over the hard. “Sailing” them is a blast. White dust whirs around the tubular cart with its skinny sail as you settle into a
Author:
Publish date:

On the island of Bonaire in the Netherlands Antilles, wind is the most important ingredient for spending a day on the world’s biggest landsailing track along the island’s northeast coast. The brightly colored sails of Blokarts poke at a blue sky as their tires spin madly over the hard. “Sailing” them is a blast. White dust whirs around the tubular cart with its skinny sail as you settle into a sling seat, strap on a crash helmet, and buckle up. Hauling in the sheet, you launch into the fast lane.

While landsailing is a novelty to many sailors, it’s hardly a new development. The first landsailors were ancient Egyptians. In the sixth century, the Chinese followed suit. A 16th-century land yacht was invented for a Dutch prince to impress his guests, and the Belgian DuMont brothers copied the Egyptian model in 1898. Although some landsailers were popular in the U.S. in the 1960s, the sport really took off in the 1970s, mostly in California and Nevada, on dry lakebeds and beaches. Today, landsailing is popular on West Coast, South Carolina, and Florida beaches. The fastest speed ever recorded for a landsailer was 88.4 mph back in 1976.

Trim the main, adjust the helm, and you’re hugging the track in Bonaire. Waves crash in the distance, to remind you of a different kind of sailing, but at the speed you’re traveling, you don’t have time to philosophize. Cacti and dunes blur by as you take an extra tug on the sheet. Soon you’re two-wheeling it, flying your windward wheel. As you round the leeward mark, the sail whips overhead and, now on a starboard reach, you build up more speed before reaching the windward mark. Tacking quickly you are off for another lap. Finally you finish and now you’ve got to stop without brakes. Coasting off the exit ramp, you find an old tire to thud into.

The ride may be over, but the sport of landsailing is here to stay. And if you’re like me, you can’t wait to try it again—once your brain recovers from the adrenaline overdose.

Related

albintoilet

Gear: Albin Pump Marine Toilet

Head Start Is there room for a new marine toilet? Albin Pump Marine thinks so, having just introduced its line of Swedish-built heads—ranging from compact to full-size models—to the American market. The toilets feature vitreous porcelain bowls and either wooden or thermoplastic ...read more

07n_45R2699

Multihull Sailor: Classic Cats

If you’re looking for a decent sub-40ft cruising cat, you have few choices when it comes to new-boat offerings. It is a well-known fact that the multihull market has taken off in a way very few could have predicted. Despite Hurricane Irma’s recent destruction of a large part of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Thanks a bunch  This scene is very calm and seamanlike. No frantic rope throwing or shouting. As he passes the line to the gent on the dock, the crew on the boat says, quietly and clearly, “Would you ...read more

mcarthy-and-mouse

Experience: McCarthy and the Mouse

Sitting at the helm in a light breeze, my arms crusted with a fine rime of salt, my skin so dry I’d lost my fingerprints, I heard a clatter and a curse from below. There were only three of us a thousand miles from shore and only one on watch at a time. Usually, the off watch lay ...read more

2018-giftGuide

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Brass Yacht Lamp Does someone on your gift list spend the whole winter missing the warm days on the water? Let them bring a little bit of nautical atmosphere home with this new lamp from Weems & Plath. The glass enclosure means the flame cannot be blown out even by ...read more

image001

Opinion: On Not Giving Up Sailing

E.B. White was 64 when he wrote his now-famous essay “The Sea and the Wind That Blows,” which begins as a romantic paean to sailing and then drifts, as if spun around by a pessimistic eddy of thought, into a reflection on selling his boat. Does an aging sailor quit while he’s ...read more

1812-JeanneaueNewsVideo

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410

Designed by Marc Lombard, the Sun Odyssey 410 shares much in common with her older siblings including of course, the walk-around deck. Other features that set the 410 apart from other models being introduced this year include the 410’s “negative bow” shape allowing for a longer ...read more