Can You Sail on Land

Residents along the coasts and near lakes have long known the exquisite pleasure of sailing: harnessing the mighty power of the wind to one's own modest purposes. It's an activity that brings one into contact with the very essence of humanity and to the patrimony left to us by our ancestors. Sailors' landlocked peers have long looked upon them with envy. Surely, the power of the wind cannot be used to move across a prairie or desert. Or can it?

Yes, it can. Land sailing has been around since Ancient Egypt, where it was used as a divertissement for the leisure classes. The sport sprouted independently in China and Belgium in the ensuing centuries, but it wasn't until the 20th century that it became widespread.

Modern land sailing began on the beaches of Belgium and France in 1909, and quickly spread overseas. The advancement of materials science in the 20th century gave birth to the contemporary land yacht, a magnificent fiberglass and metal cart carried by a massive polyester sail. 

These beasts are still raced today across the world, and people are still improving their design. In fact, the land sailing speed record was set recently, in March 2009, by the Englishman Richard Jenkins, who sailed across a Nevada desert at 126 miles per hour.

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