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Sand Yachting In Caithness

17 November 04
This year has seen the resurgence of a traditional Caithness pastime on Dunnet Beach, the sport of land (or sand) yachting. Imagine racing across the sand with your backside a few centimetres from the stranded jellyfish, whilst avoiding the Dunnet burns, dogs and the occasional seaweed flying up from the land yacht in front of you, and you will have an idea of the sport. It is the most environmentally acceptable way of racing at speeds of up to, and over 40mph, as you are merely harnessing the power of the wind. This may not sound much compared to vehicles with engines, but it certainly feels fast!

Sand yachting is popular in Britain, with a number of clubs operating on large windy beaches. The sport used to be popular in Caithness, and there was formerly a club at the eastern end of Dunnet Beach

The sport died out, but was resurrected last year by Steve Foster (MPED, Forss) when he designed the ‘Scorpion’ land yacht, a restricted design class land yacht. Gavin Coppins and Guy Hitchins, D2003 (EPD) became interested when they met Steve on the beach during the testing of their experimental ‘fish box and weed blanket’ land yacht, and both constructed Scorpions. There are now six land yachts built to the same broad design, meaning that racing is feasible and exciting, and they are all very close in performance.

Plans for home construction are available from Steve, and construction is simple, only requiring a welder and grinder, resulting in a very strong chassis on which a 5 to 5.5m2 windsurfer sail is mounted. Cycle computers to measure top speed are optional! A competitive yacht may be constructed for around £350, depending on the cost of the (second hand) windsurfing equipment used, and will probably take a couple of weekends to complete.

Sand Yachting Photos 1967 - 1970

Photos were sent by Bob Levens and added 20 October 2006

Sand Yachting Revival 2004

Caithness Sand And Land Yacht Club
Some information and pictures of the earlier club