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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Land Sailing History

NALSA and FISLY are the governing bodies of modern Land Sailing but before them there were many other attempts.

A great article by Nord Embroden in 1998 shows some great photos of early American Land Sailing.

Link to article on American Land Sailing

Another good article is from Lola Jones and talks about the basics of Land Sailing, including some ancient historical references that assert the Chinese, Egyptians and other older civilizations had some form of a land boat.  Land Sailing in the USA

In current online publications Sailing Scuttlebutt Editor, Craig Leweck has been publishing articles on land sailing since 2013 and has been ramping up his coverage with an extensive number of articles on the World Land Sailing Championship of 2014.

This event  was held on the Smith Creek Playa in Nevada, approximately 70 miles from Fallon or 25 miles from Austin on Highway 722 with the boat launch ramp installed in June, 2014 by the Nevada DOT to make a smooth entrance to the playa.  This ramp may be the longest launch ramp in the world at nearly 1/2 mile.

Once on the playa, one has to drive about 2 miles to the event center that was established with a large 40' x 100' tent, large diesel gen set, shower hut, many sani-cans spread out for the 170+ competitors that came from all over the world.  Flag posts were installed for the countries that showed up as an edging for the racers to come home to after zooming around on the 4 mile by 6 mile playa.

The French team starts assembly of the fleet taking things out of the shipping container and fitting it all together. 
Here is a good article that was found on   Link to article and photos

Landsailing Worlds: Dirt, heat, and community
by Eric Sorensen
The Land Sailing World Championship is in Nevada this week (July 13-19), a rare occurrence for USA, and one that won’t be repeated again, due to event protocol, for another 24 years. So I took the drive from upper Washington to witness dirt boating.

With over 170 pilots on site, the world is well represented. Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Netherland, New Zealand, and the USA are all here. With closure now to the FIFA World Cup, early book likes the Germans.

In order to offer a World Championship, each landsailing class must have at least 16 pilots from 5 countries, representing at least 2 continents. The team racing is a bit more convoluted with teams of 10 pilots designated prior to racing as country representing pilots. The top three places in each team of ten count toward the trophy. A bit much for this newbie observer.

The 8 classes are (listed from fastest to slower, as none are slow):
International FISLY Class 2, 18 entrants, 90 mph top end
International FISLY Class 3, 23 entrants, 87 mph
International FISLY Class 5, 10 entrants, 70 mph
Standart Class, 22 entrants, 65 mph
Promo Class , 22 entrants, 65ish mph
International 5.6 Mini Class, 40 entrants, 65ish mph
Manta Twin Class, 50+ entrants, 60 mph
Manta Single Class, 20+ entrants , 47 mph

The course and race/camp compound is located on the Smith Creek Playa, approximately a 4 mile by 6 mile dry lake bed which is very smooth and flat. Most of the foreign racers have never been on a course so wide, typically hosting their regattas on the beach when the tide goes out.

Alan Wirtanen is the top USA speed demon, piloting a Class 2, with those classes starting racing on Tuesday, July 15. He has been a favorite in many USA competitions, including this one if the winds are steady. He is using a soft sail behind a shaped rotating mast and is competing against many solid wings that may be the latest innovation.

Carlos, from Brazil, is a very entertaining character, representing his country on his own. He has attended each World’s since 1998 and is one of the senior pilots at 68 years old. The Belgium, French and German teams have brought in containers of boats and gear and are very serious about this. Everyone is friendly, sharing ideas, shade, and libations. However, I am told the racing is as brutal as the desert venue is harsh.

In terms of design, as the boats go faster, less sail area is desired as it adds drag. You need some sail area for the start, but not so much after that. Many classes are one design and some are full on innovation. Sail selection is just like wet boats; important to get it right before the start. The apparent wind is way forward after the boat hit 14 knots. Spinouts at the turning marks, especially the leeward mark, are the danger spots, but the pilots are belted in so there is not much danger of injury if they tip over. Just got to figure out how to undo the seat belt and get to the ground.

Land yachts are capable of speeds 5 times the wind speed in light, steady winds. High performance water catamarans are capable of twice the wind speed. As the true wind increases, the ratio of boat speed to wind speed goes down. In 30 mph winds, the fastest land yachts are typically sailing off the wind at 2.5-3 times the wind speed. It takes real skill to pilot the top classes and not crash.

In the Manta Twin (~$3000 for a new one) class, the largest class by far, a reasonable top speed would be a bit over 50 mph although they are not sailed much over 40 and have reached 65 mph in a record setting run. Other racing classes in a lot of wind will go 70 or 80 mph. The fastest race boats can go a little over 100 mph in a 30 mph wind. For purpose built speed boats, the Greenbird currently holds the record at 126.2 mph. This was done in a wind of approximately 30 mph.

I can only imagine what the venue looks like from space. Vast miles of barren hardscape oddly populated by a circus tent with 100+ RVs and land yachts filling a small bit of the playa.

There are no pretenders out here. No one is here to sip gin and tonics. There are no tony yachting clubs. This is about dirt and heat. This is about community. This is about landsailing.

Event website:
Entry list:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Road Trip to the World's Land Sailing Championship

Day One:

The Uboat started out driving the 50 miles to Braindamage Island and picking up the two other passengers.  JP the Photographer and JT the Creative Director, add in the Journalist, Count Ferrari and you have the population of our moving road trip going to Austin NV.

We ended up at the Dalles in OR.  We are at a ShiloInn.  Very nice.

We took the road over Cayuse and Chinook Passes which had great vistas of Mt. Rainier.  We stopped at the top and had crab that Joe had caught and cooked the previous day.  That was a great lunch.  Then in Yakima we had a couple of tacos at the taco bus.  This will be tough to beat.

Then down to the Dalles and disc golf at a great course in a very nice park overlooking the Columbia.  That was 6:45-9:00 PM.  Dinner was salads for all at 9:30 just inside of closing time.

JT found a disc and called the owner but got some French recording.

Disc Golf Scores:
JT= -6 with a par 5
JP= -5 with a par 4
CF = +6 with a par 3

JP did a thing and we got the Shilo for $100 plus tax but he lost the receipt so we will not believe anything he says and figure JP will cover the cost.  He says the tax was $18 off his internet pages, but the question is.... Do we believe him?

It was 97F most of the day yesterday and the Uboat was a heaven of AC.  We were able to access all of our stuff an cruise in comfort.

Today we are going to go by Crater Lake and end up south of there somewhere.  These guys have not seen it yet.

We have a point system and so far JP is +1, I am +1, and Joe is -2.  Explanation later for this system.
The Three Road Trippers
Crater Lake OR, ~ 7000 ft elevation.
Wizard Island shown on right side.
Count Enrico at 8500' in Lissen National
Volcanic Park.
Joe looking very Arabic for the 1st day.
The trip went from Seattle, to the Dalles,OR, to Klamath Falls,OR, to Susanville,CA, to Fallon NV, and finally to Austin,NV.

We found Crater Lake at 7000 ft was a bit cold and windy but magnificent.  

We played disc again in Madras OR on an excellent desert course with 9 holes.  Joe won again but will now be playing with a par 4 instead of the par 5.   JP also plays with the par 4 so now they will play head to head.

El Joe of the desert, note there is no explosive wrapped
on his body.

The mileage on Day 4 started in Susanville and we found many roads that were dirt and potholed.  There was a bit of rain as we drove through Lake Tahoe so the car started to get trashed a bit.  Tahoe was crowded.  We did turn around on one to find a paved alternative.  JP tested his Go Pro on the hood for the first time.  Moderate success.

We had lunch in a small town of Slaterville (?) with fresh BBQ pulled pork in a salad for CF.  We fueled up with 91 octane and headed out the wrong road which totally took us away from Joe's destination of Nevada City.

The Uboat (enroute to Fallon and to kill some time) did end up on some 'scenic byway' that was dirt and had a company that does destructive quality control for the military.  They specialize in mostly the Marines but do stuff for other services too.  Most of the staff are ex-military.  An example is to take a tank to -50C and see if it still works.  There were several tank shells in the field.

We got to talk to an HVAC repair dude who told us it was coming up and a bit about it.  We got there after 5PM, closing, but were able to talk with one of the project engineers and a security guy.  Both were great and very forthcoming.  They even have a test track, like a Nascar track, where they do high speed testing.  The company also sponsors a race car and uses that track for practice.  The company is on 3500 acres and away from anything but kind of near Ft. Churchill.

Ft. Churchill is a park with some buildings without roofs or floors.  The wood parts are long gone but the 2' thick walls are still standing for the most part.  I am guessing it was part of the Indian wars?  It is located on the path of the Pony Express as was the QC company (Quality Control).

We are on day 4, a Friday as this is being written.  Fallon NV in a  Best Western that actually had a room with 3 queen beds.  Cost was $91 including a reasonable breakfast.

 The experience with hard water here in NV was a new one for us.  Soap just doesn't rinse off easily.  I suppose hard water is better than no water.   Joe noted this is the best shower pressure and head we have found so far.

We will be provisioning for a day in the desert today.  All the UV clothes will be tested along with sunblock.  Count Ferrari will be shod with running shoes, denim pants, long sleeve UV shirt and a big sun hat while trying to get a ride on a wind machine.  His companions may have him beat for car speed on the road, JP= 135 MPH, J = 110 with CF at 100, but the experience in sailing at speed will assist CF in getting and keeping a new sailing personal best speed record.  In excess of 35MPH is the goal.

A great article on the history of Land Sailing is found here, click to go.