Most land/sand yachting is done on beaches, preferably at low tide, though disused airstrips are also popular. Beaches allow for plenty of room where, with the help of strong sea winds, you can learn to perform a variety of stunts, all expressed in a set of terms known only to the initiated; a "flying gybe into moon country" is one such rite, as are "manoeuvres in the orange zone". I'm not giving anything away, however. If you want to find out what these strange terms mean you will have to give the sport a try. Apart from speed and the joys of sailing without a boat, land yachting has the added advantage of being open to children. There are plenty of competent pilots, as experienced land yachters are called, under 15. It's worth considering as a safer alternative to waterborne sailing for the young.
Finally, if you find yourself hooked by the sport, land yachting also has its own weird sub-disciplines to explore, such as parakarting (speeding along underneath a small parasailing canopy) and speedsailing (standing on a kind of skateboard and flying along with a windsurfing rig). Parakarting is still in its experimental stages, but the speed records are creeping up all the time. Speedsailing can be as fast as regular land yachting, with speeds of up to 70mph at club level, and fast enough to make your knuckles go white at beginner level. Both require niceties of sailing technique. But regular land yachting, at least in its initial stages, is relatively easy to learn. Beginners do not have to go through a long period of frustration; the learning curve is steep enough to make it fun to try out over a weekend. It helps if you have some sailing experience, but this is not essential. Windsport International have several different centres round the country. If you just want to try it out, there are two-hour taster sessions, though it is also possible to do one whole introductory day which is inexpensive at pounds 48. Beyond this there are levels 1, 2, 3 and Pilot courses, which include tests at the relevant levels. Aimed equally at beginners and would- be recreational land yachters, rather than aspiring competitors or instructors, tuition is given individually, in groups, or as "Corporate Action" (for company days-out), with about six hours of sailing per day.
With several qualified instructors and a selection of different craft, including two-seaters with dual control, Windsport International can take you from beginner to competition standard sailing.
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Windsport International, Mylor Yacht Harbour, Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 5UF Tel: 01326 376192
Centre can provide help in obtaining local accommodation
Any age but under-12s only with caution
Hand-steering yachts are available on request
Participants are covered by centre's insurance
Other Windsport centres
Cambridgeshire (01480 812288), Rutland (01326 376191)
Prices include tuition and use of yacht. Two hour course pounds 18; One day introductory course pounds 48; Pilot courses from pounds 60 per day
Deposit on booking is required
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