Sailors and Yachts race across the Desert Playa in Nevada
What event would lure hundreds of visitors to the dry, hot desert in July other than Burning Man? That would be the 2014 International Landsailing Championships held during the week of July 14 at the Smith Creek Dry Lake in Nevada.
All week long the racers compete in fleet races hoping to qualify for the finals at the culmination of the event on Saturday, July 19th.
Landsailing became a racing sport in 1950 and since 1990, only 3 world championships have been held in the United States and it may be decades before this global competition is held again on U. S. soil.
Other than flat, dry lakes most races are conducted on sandy beaches or airfields. European racers preferred the desert playa at Smith Creek because unlike busy beaches, the course was better suited to crowd control.
The racing yachts, AKA: sand yachts or land yachts can reach speeds over 100 mph (120 kmr) and are divided in to four classes. The larger Class 3 and Class 2 yachts have a lightweight fiberglass hull and wing-shaped mast with a wooden rear axle. Class 2 is the largest class with masts reaching 26 feet (8 m).
The racers or pilots recline in a small seat only a few inches off the ground, with goggles and helmet being the only protective gear. The yachts are steered by foot pedals, while the sail is maneuvered with the hands using a rope or line. Speed is adjusted by the sail and top speed can be reached in only 5 seconds.
Sailors relax waiting for the wind.
With just a 10 mph (16 kpr) wind, yachts can reach speeds of 40 to 50 mph (64 to 80 kpr). As the wind increases so does the speed of yachts, which are capable of obtaining speeds two to three times that of the wind.
Early afternoon, the flags begin to move in the wind but the clouds are also starting to build.
Suddenly the clouds let go and everyone runs for cover.
The rain pours down causing some minor flooding.
The dusty desert playa turns to mud.
After about 30 minutes the rain stops, the sun dries the mud and the races continue.
Two U.S. sailors racing almost neck to neck!
For more info on Landsailing:
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