If you go down to the West Sands beach this summer, you’re sure to find a number of unusual contraptions, from kite-boards to wake-boards, and increasingly, land-yachts! We asked Tom from X-Sail to share the history of this surprisingly old sport. Check our ‘What’s On‘ list to see when X-Sail are next offering taster sessions in St Andrews.
St Andrews is much more than just the “Home of Golf” – the beautiful long beach of West Sands also has a long history of Land Sailing. The sport is exploding in popularity in the UK, mainly because of new designs which are very easy to transport and make it much simpler to learn. One of these designs is from Scottish business X-sail,who use St. Andrews to offer a taste of the sport, and a chance to sample their innovative fold-away products.
The University of St Andrews has had a popular land sailing club for decades, but Land Sailing has actually been around since Ancient Egyptians used wind power for transporting troops. The Chinese also used the wind to power “wind-carriages” for up to thirty people, and in the 19th Century there was the occasional race between steam trains and massive Ice Sailers on the adjacent frozen Hudson river.
A “Sail Wagon” in Brooklyn, New York
From the 1500′s onwards, Europe’s rich and powerful commissioned Land Sailers as a bit of a laugh, and to impress and presumably scare the pants off their guests. For it to become a popular sport we had to wait until 1898, when the Dumant brothers of De Panne in Belgium designed a Land Sailer for racing. It’s been a popular sport in Belgium and Northern France ever since, with most coastal towns having a Club with a fleet of “Char à Voile”.
The design of Land Sailers has changed tremendously, from huge multi-sailed beasts designed to transport freight, through to extremely fast and hi-tech “wing-sailed” machines that have taken the speed record to over 200kmph. The design changes that are influencing the current upsurge in popularity are ease-of-use, and ease-of-transportation.
THEN – you could fit a car in it… NOW – you can fit it in your car!
The X-sail design for example, folds down into a suitcase which can be wheeled along and thrown in the boot of the car. It also uses a handlebar for steering instead of the conventional foot-steering, which makes it ultra-easy to learn.
Another unique design feature was to make the X-sail a one-size-fits-all, so that young children and tall adults can all use the same model without making any adjustments. This is a game changer for many families; suddenly there is an adrenalin sport that everyone can take part in, and everyone will safely enjoy. Don’t be greedy Gran, it’s Dad’s turn.
X-Sailing in St Andrews
The raw ingredients for Land Sailing are:
2. Flat, firm surface.
3. Land Sailer (you sit down, and it has a mast and sail).
St Andrews supplies the first two ingredients and X-sail supplies the third!
X-sail will be offering X-sail X-periences all year round on the West Sands, St Andrews, with a schedule dictated by the tides.