5.6 Mini Yacht Championship decided, other classes begin competition at Landsailing Worlds
By Kimball Livingston Posted July 16, 2014
A sailor is a sailor, no matter what the sailor sails.
And my point is?
The strongest reaction I ever received to a magazine article came from a piece about sailing model yachts. Those people have a passion. What’s more, I discovered that many of them are the usual suspects, people I already knew from sailing what they call “people boats.” They just have this other thing too.
So it is with landsailing.
Austin, Nevada is remote. Add a few miles and you’re at Smith Creek Playa, slightly more remote but flat and open and perfect for sailing on the hard. The world is gathered this week on the playa for a world championship almost as diverse as the world of wet-sailed boats. And yes, they call them boats. Or yachts. “Skipper” here becomes “pilot.” There are one-designs and one-offs, formula classes for tinkerers, some very sophisticated experiments in engineering and other experiments that lean toward the agricultural end of the scale. And there are the usual suspects.
The 2014 Landsailing World Championship is being managed by Santa Cruz sailor-sailors who have been at this game for a good long while. That would include Russ Foster, who observed the first day of racing for the 5.6 Mini class and fretted that he was watching an arms race taking off. To some extent, that’s built in by a class rule that allows multiple sails for different wind ranges, with no limit on sail area. The platform component of the 5.6 Mini rule requires a small boat but allows a dreamer to dream and a tinkerer to tinker: All wheels of the vehicle (three wheels, we assume) must fit within a continuous loop of small diameter rope 5.6 meters long, laid on a flat surface with the land yacht at rest. Now, Mr. Engineer, go play.
Foster observed, “First, reducing drag is important. Most of the leaders were lying down fairly far aft (increasing righting moment and rear wheel traction) in yachts with streamlined bodies and, in some cases, wheel pants and fully-enclosed front wheels. Moreover, on one or two advanced machines, the boom is very close to the deck, creating a ‘deck sealing’ effect and increasing sail efficiency.”
You can take that as far as you want to go, but—this time out at least—the hottest 5.6 Mini came out of Lakeside, Montana in the hands of John Eisenlohn, who designed and built US 772 himself of parts from home supply stores. He licked some showy international opponents who had gone the way of more exotic components, and in the process he probably tamped down the arms race a tad.
The 5.6 Minis were the first class to wrap their championship. (More info via the North American Landsailing Association.) Much more racing is under way, continuing through Saturday. Frenchman Bernard Morel traveled a long way to race in Class 3 and got, um, this. All images courtesy Carels Photography, Belgium. Yep, there is ample justification for a roll bar.
This article was syndicated from BLUE PLANET TIMES