The Intriguing History Of Land Sailing

Land sailing is a racing sport born in 1950 (officially). Also known as land yachting or sand yachting, it became pretty popular over the last few years, for which I say that a more serious analysis is required! Taking this into account, let’s start with a brief history about land sailing. I have decided to arrange it chronologically for a better understanding.

But before I start, you need to know two things. Those vehicles used in land sailings have two ancestors: the sailing carriage and the land yacht. Also, as you might have guessed, land sailing was not considered a sport at first, but a manner of transportation or recreation used by different cultures.

A Trip Back in Time

I was surprised to find out that some historians claim that land sailing was a common activity in both ancient Egypt and China. Known as a “wide-driven carriage”, the large vehicles were used by Chinese emperors to carry people from one place to another in the 6th century BC.

Land sailing carriages were used even by European travelers at the beginning of the 16th century. The sailing carriages became so popular that, after a while, people turned them into different patterns used on silk handful robes and earthenware vessels. Also, at the end of this century, in 1600, the precursor of the modern land yacht was invented by Simon Stevin, as a commission for Prince Maurice of Orange. The invention was used mainly for entertainment.

From China to Europe and the US

In the 17th century, John Milton manages to popularize the idea of Chinese sailing carriages in Europe through one of his compositions from 1665.

After almost 200 years, the sailing carriages and the land yachts were used in America for shipment. What’s amazing for me is that the popularity of the sailing carriage and the land yacht never stopped growing. Slowly but certainly, the invention made its way outside of Europe and the Far East right into America. That’s a great evolution.

Now, just as the popularity of the land yacht didn’t stop, neither did its development. Around 1898, The Dumont brothers of De Panne (Belgium) came up with the idea to put on sails that were based on contemporary Egyptian sailboats used on the Nile River. This was to ensure a higher speed and better direction. In 1909, the first races of land yachts took place on the beaches of Belgium and France.


The First Land Sailing Races

As I mentioned before, the development never stopped. Therefore, in 1960, the modern land yacht was invented: a four-wheeled polyester / fiberglass and metal cart, often with a wing-mast and a rigid sail. After this came the race across the Sahara Desert. Maybe you heard of this one, it’s quite famous! And here is why: it was organized by a French Foreign Legion officer. There were teams from seven countries, assembled in Colomb-Béchar, Algeria. Those teams sailed 1.700 miles through Algeria, Spanish Morocco and into the capital of Mauritania. In November 1967, the story made the cover of National Geographic and later on, through reenacting, the event was filmed, also by National Geographic.

From that moment one, this sport’s popularity raised to the point that, in 1972, a North American Landing Sailing Association (NALSA) was formed, who later on affiliated itself with the older International Land and Sand yachting Federation (FISLY), from Europe.

I’ll wrap this up by saying that now, in the 21 century, land sailing is a thrilling and interesting sport. The extraordinary history, evolution and popularity nowadays it simply amazing. As a result, it is worth analyzing the subsequent progress and investment.