Landsailing mayhem in the Mojave

Published on July 20th, 2022

Landsailing enthusiasts make the annual trek to Mojave for the America’s Landsailing Cup, and Mike Hanson shares the experience for Sailing World:

A 25-knot wind streaks across Ivanpah Dry Lake on this cold March afternoon in California, dust whipping across the racecourse ahead. I’m having trouble relaxing my breathing. Maybe it’s nerves. Maybe it’s the 30-pound sack of lead duct-taped to my chest for extra weight. I’m about to start my first dirt-­sailing race at the 2022 America’s Landsailing Cup, and I’m hoping this extra weight will help keep my Manta TwinJammer—or rather my lawn chair with a sail—on all three wheels.

Thirty of these 105-pound aluminum craft with bench seats crowd the starting line, which is a 100-yard piece of rope stretched perpendicular to the wind from the starboard side of the race-­committee trailer. My competitors look like Mad Max dragoons, their identities masked by helmets and ski goggles. Their jeans are caked with dirt, some of them wearing motorcycle armor. While we wait for the previous fleet to finish, there’s a strange pre-start shuffle. Unlike the regimented starts of DN iceboats I’m more familiar with, where half the fleet starts on starboard and the other half on port, land-sailing starts are a free-for-all.

Everyone lines up on starboard in whatever position they like, and for the next 10 minutes, competitors walk their boats into openings on the line, repositioning and relocating for more space, but mostly crowding on the favored end. I decide to play it safe and start in the leeward third of the pack. I want to be able to get this three-wheeled vehicle ripping before beating my way up to the mark. – Full report

Editor’s note: For more about landsailing and the America’s Landsailing Cup, Mike wrote another story for Nevada Public Radio.

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