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:
Updated:
Original:

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

02-'17-Trans-Atlantic_Downwind-Schralpin

At The Helm: Man Overboard!

Imagine this simple scenario: the boat’s powered up, sailing close-hauled in a building breeze under full sail. I come on deck as the skipper during the watch change to make sure the new crew is comfortable and the boat is properly set up for both the current conditions and ...read more

Promo-01-LEAD-MGR00321

Contrasting X-Yachts & Moody Cruisers

One of the most fascinating things about sailboats is the different ways that sailors, naval architects and builders will approach a single design problem. The result has been a bewildering array of rigs and hull forms over the years, and in the case of the two boats we’ll be ...read more

04-Yacht-anchored-in-front-of-one-of-Lastovo's-gunboat-tunnels-(3)

Cruising Charter to Croatia

As is the case with so much of the Mediterranean, to sail in Croatia is to take a journey through time. Centuries before the birth of Christ, Greeks traded amphoras of oil, wine and grain across these waters. During the first millennium, the Romans built lavish palaces and ...read more

m123728_13_01_171012_PMA_02901_9999

Alicante Announced as an Ocean Race Europe Stop

The Ocean Race Europe, a new event in offshore sailing, will include Alicante as one of four stopover cities. This European offshoot of the former Volvo Ocean Race will include the biggest change to the racing rules under the new title—fully crewed IMOCA 60s will join the ...read more

01-LEAD-doublehanded2

Preparing for a Doublehanded Race

A few months ago we took a look at the development and attraction of doublehanded racing (Two to Tango, June/July 2020). Hopefully, that served to whet your appetite. If so, the question becomes: “How do I get started? The good news, as we explained in Part 1, is that if you are ...read more

01-LEAD-Day-three---dolphins.-300-dpi

A Key Approach to Passagemaking

How you approach offshore sailing is key to the success of each passage. In addition, some of the most valuable, even crucial attitudes and skills may not be either learned or valued in everyday life on shore and may even fly in the face of talents that are greatly admired and ...read more

OceanVoyagesInstitute-2048

Point of SAIL: Mary Crowley of the Ocean Voyages Institute

In this episode of Point of SAIL, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with Mary Crowley, founder and executive director of the Ocean Voyages Institute, a not-for-profit based in California that has been both educating sailors and working to preserve the health of the world’s ocean ...read more

01-Ocean-Voyages-Institute_PHOTO-READY_1_pg

Tracking and Catching Plastic Waste

Plastic waste—in the form of everything from plastic soda bottles to abandoned fishing nets—constitutes a major threat to the health of the world’s oceans. Giving the immense size of an ocean, though, actually finding all the plastic floating around out there in a time-efficient ...read more