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What is Land Sailing?

Jessica F. Black
Jessica F. Black

Land sailing is a leisure activity that involves a wind-powered vehicle with three or four wheels, a body, and various sized sails in order to travel over different types of dry land without a motor. The vehicles are often referred to as land yachts, and can be purchased from manufacturers or built at home. Materials used to build a land yacht differ and may include steel tubing, aluminum, wood, sails from old sail boats, or hand sewn sails. Some of the most common places that land sailing occurs are beaches, deserts, dry lake beds, and sometimes flat open roads. Depending on the speed of the wind, land yachts may exceed over 110 miles per hour (177.02 km per hour).

The history of land sailing dates back to at least the early 1600s in Egypt, but the land yachts were bulkier and usually made out of heavy wood. Races were not recorded until the 1800s on the beaches of France, and became gradually more popular in the mid 1900s. As popularity increased, land yachts were improved in order to be faster and more durable, mostly by using lighter materials. Sails were also perfected to enhance the benefits of the wind required for speed.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Presently, there are numerous land sailing associations that are mostly overseen by the International Land and Sandyachting Federation (FISLY). Races, rules, and guidelines are set by the FISLY. There are four classes of vehicles listed under the FISLY for land sailing, which differ based upon the weight class, material used, and type of sail on the land yacht. In addition, there is a United States organization titled North American Land Sailing Association (NALSA), which offers private races and other leisure activities exclusively for members. Most of these organizations offer courses and other programs that teach land sailing.

There are various training programs, and initial classes usually include relaxing in a land yacht as a trained professional operates the vehicle, which helps the student observe the process before attempting to maneuver a vehicle on his or her own. The next part of the course is usually spent in a classroom learning safety procedures, vehicle structure, and maintenance. After the successful completion of in-class studies, the student usually operates the land yacht under the supervision of an instructor. This phase varies in time depending on the student's operating ability, which is usually followed by extensive practice without a instructor on board. Advanced classes are not required but are offered by the hour for students who wish to enhance performance and increase his or her speed.

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