We’re all accustomed to the idea of sailboats cutting through the waves and water, but what about sail-powered vehicles that run on land? The idea might seem crazy, but land sailing is actually an ancient sport that’s enjoyed by thousands of people. If you’re ready to try something new—and you like the idea of being powered by the wind—then it’s time to give land sailing a try!
A land yacht, or “sand yacht” as they’re often called, is effectively a sailboat with wheels on the bottom that’s designed to run on land. Three-wheeled vehicles are the best because of their maneuverability, and they take their passengers at amazing speeds—sometimes as fast as four times the wind speed. Depending on the size of your land yacht, you may reach seventy miles per hour or faster. Land yachts that are built purely for speed often reach 100 miles per hour.
Land yachts were first used in Ancient Egypt. Throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance, land yachts were popular in Europe as exotic entertainment for the nobility. In the 19th and 20th century land sailing became popular in the United States, where three-wheeled carts were used to transport goods across dry lakes and salt flats.
Today, land sailing competitions are growing by leaps and bounds. Competitors are classed by the size of their craft or “land yacht,” with sizes ranging from over 25 feet to small skate board-sized yachts that operate more like a sail board than a sailboat. Parakarting and kite buggying are offshoots of this sport, done with the smallest sized yachts available.
To get started with land sailing, head to a local event or competition. This will be a great place to learn about the sport from actual land-sailors, and it’ll give you the chance to see a yacht up close. You might even be offered a ride! Once you’re ready to assemble your own land yacht, put together an inexpensive one (the Manta Twin is highly recommended for its easy management) and start practicing. If you’ve done sea or lake sailing before, the mechanics of wind and sailing will be obvious to you. If you haven’t, you might consider taking a sailing course or reading up on the points of sail.
Larger land yachts require a small crew to manage, and if you’re hoping to compete, your crew will need to practice regularly. If you’re interested in sailing for fun only, a smaller vessel might suit your needs better. Competitions are held all over the U.S., particularly on windy beaches and dry lakebeds. These colorful contests are spectacular to watch and exciting to see up close, with yachts flying over the sand on wind power alone. The next time you’re at the beach, be sure to check out this thrilling new sport!