Landsailing - A first-hand look at Weston's Blokarts in action
PUBLISHED: 10:45 23 June 2013
Ahead of the 2013 European landsailing championships in Weston, Mercury reporter Alex Evans gets hands-on with Blokarts.
THEIR distinctive sails are often seen zipping across the sands, but the wind-powered land craft which make up Blokart racing are growing ever more popular - and Weston is set to host the sport’s European championships this year.
The high-speed sport is said to be easy to learn and is open to people of all shapes, sizes and abilities, even those with prosthetic limbs or disabilities.
Mercury reporter Alex Evans went to try his hand at the sport on a wet and windy Saturday on Uphill beach with the help of Weston-based six-times British land speed sailing champion Chris Moore.
The sport sees competitors strapped into metal ‘Blokarts’, contraptions powered entirely by the wind in their sails.
The pilot sits upright, using one hand to steer and the other to pull on a rope to adjust the sails to boost or reduce speed.
Alex said: “Chris talked me through how to use it and then said ‘right, I’m going to flip you now. It’s going to happen anyway so we might as well get it out of the way’.
“He then pushed me over, leaving me hanging sideways in the frame, slightly worried about what was to come.”
The three-wheeled sailing karts can reach speeds of about 64.5mph in their fastest racing iterations, with Mr Moore reaching almost 60mph in the UK.
Competitors are split into five classes based on pilot weight, with karts in each class equal in construction. The strategy comes from reading the wind and pulling the sail in or out to gain momentum, depending on its strength and direction – like sailing on water.
Chris said: “It’s a sport for everyone, it’s really easy to learn and you are always on a level playing field, the same as everyone else. You can’t write a blank cheque and get ahead. It’s down to pilot skill more than anything else.”
Uphill beach is set to host the European Blokart Open and British Championships on September 20-22, as well as a B-series event on July 20 and 21.
To register, go to www.theblsa.com
Alex added: “I struggled to keep my momentum up initially, but when the wind picked up I was hurtling along quite quickly.
“The kart kept lifting off the ground, and I did flip over a couple of times. It’s pretty scary when you’re suddenly sideways staring at the sand, but it doesn’t hurt.
“I got the hang of it within a couple of hours and I really enjoyed it, I would definitely do it again.”