Landsailors like it smooth

Published on January 8th, 2014

Land yacht racers accustomed to beach sailing will be pleased with the size and smoothness of the dry lake chosen for 2014 Landsailing World Championship on July 12-19 in Nevada, USA. They will not have to cope with the bumps and water hazards often present on beaches. These often make for exciting sailing but also can cause sore bodies and damage to land yachts.

By comparison, Smith Creek Playa (dry lake) in Northern Nevada is smooth, large and located 6000 ft. (1800 meters) above sea level. While offering refreshingly different conditions, high elevation dry lake sailing can create its own challenges for sailors accustomed to beaches.

The first challenge is the wind: specifically its direction, velocity and power. Unlike coastal winds, which often are reasonably predictable, desert winds can vary dramatically in direction and velocity, even during a single leg of a race. Moreover, the thinner air at high elevation causes any given wind speed to provide less power than it would at sea level. Dust and lightning storms can pose additional adversity.

The second challenge is posed, ironically, by the sheer width of dry lake race courses. “Especially on downwind legs, there are almost too many choices of which way to go compared to narrower beaches,” stated Dennis Bassano, President of NALSA, the host organization. “Land yachts can sail from 2- to 5-times the speed of the wind, so sailors making the right choice between heading and speed can make huge gains against those who don’t.”

“We believe the beach sailors will find the surface quality and size of Smith Creek Playa very enjoyable,” Bassano continued. “The international sailors are excellent and accustomed to adversity, so they should quickly adapt to the challenges presented by the wind, weather and width of the course,” he added.

The FISLY-NALSA 14th Landsaiing World Championship will be held July 12-19 at Smith Creek Playa, near the town of Austin in Northern Nevada USA. Click here for event website.

For further information contact Russ Foster, NALSA Media Coordinator at or (+1) 408-313-6811.


Landsailing Background Information

About landsailing: A landsailer or landyacht is a wheeled vehicle with a sail for propulsion and is powered solely by wind. Most landsailers use cloth sails to good effect, but wing sails similar to those on the latest America’s Cup catamarans have been used successfully on landsailers since the early 1980s. Most landsailers have a single mainsail and no headsail (jib). Landyachts can sail at speeds of 2 to 5 times the wind velocity, depending on yacht size, design and wind speed.

History of Landsailing: For centuries, wheeled sailing vehicles were employed for commerce. In the 19th century, Europeans began constructing landsailers for pleasure and competition. In the U.S., landsailing got its start in the 1960s, and the North American Landsailing Association (NALSA) was incorporated in 1972 by Don Rypinski.

Modern Landsailing: In Europe, landsailing is primarily practiced on beaches. In the United States, most landsailing occurs on dry lake beds in the deserts of the western U.S. and on beaches. There are thousands of landsailors throughout the world, with national and international competitions.

Landsailing Organizations: The International Federation of Sand and Land Yachting (FISLY) is the organization that oversees the sport worldwide, and it comprises some 20 member organizations which represent the individual countries and classes that compete in landsailing races. Founded in Europe in 1962, FISLY is the rule-making body for the sport, and it oversees and sanctions numerous competitions each year.

About NALSA: FISLY’s American affiliate, the North American Landsailing Association (NALSA) provides similar functions for events held in the U.S. NALSA is an all-volunteer non-profit umbrella organization for landsailing clubs throughout the U.S. Its President is Dennis Bassano of Santa Cruz, CA. It was incorporated in 1972 and each year organizes the America’s Landsailing Cup regatta held in the last week of March on Ivanpah dry lake near Primm, NV at the California/Nevada state line off Interstate 15. NALSA has hosted two previous World Championships at Ivanpah in 1990 and 2002.

Landsailing Competition: Many landsailing competitions are held throughout the world each year. Every two years, the World Championship (“the Worlds”) has been held in different host countries-Argentina in 2008, Belgium in 2010 and France in 2012. NALSA will host the 2014 championship July 12th through 19th at Smith Creek Playa near the town of Austin in Northern Nevada. The 2014 World Championship will be the final one before the regatta moves to an every-four-year cycle, so the Worlds probably will not return to the U.S. for at least 20 years. This likely will result in a strong turnout of both international and domestic competitors.

2012 World Championships Facts (France): Countries competing were Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, United States. Number of entrants: 350.

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