what happens in ivanpah…
The America’s Cup of Land Sailing this year was a classic, with all types of wind and close racing. We also had a visit by some Las Vegas bikini models and "Happy Birthday" was sung by Marilyn Monroe to a special guest from Germany. There were also daily first prize giving parties every night, that included fresh fish tacos, tequila tasting, elk burritos, Moose Drool beer and bacon wrapped hot dogs. We had one day of no wind, one day of light air (5 to 10 knots), 2 days of perfect breeze (10 to 20 knots) and 2 days of big air (25 to 35 knots).
There were 42 separate starts which equaled 75 races in 9 classes. There were a total of 62 pilots, from 9 states and Germany, with 81 different boats competing in the event. The two one-design classes, Manta Twin and Manta Single were decided by 2 points or less after 8 races.
A new class has formed, called the ST49. It’s a 49 sq. ft. wing boat with some other build restrictions. The class was won by the designer/ builder John Eisenlohr, after a close battle in this four boat fleet. You can buy plans from John and build this boat for less than $1500. The big showdown was in the open divisions, NALSA Classes 3 and 4. These classes are only governed by maximum sail area 79 Sq. Ft. and 59 Sq. Ft. respectively.
Alan Wirtanen (US25) and his wing mast soft sail, raced against Phil Rothrock (US 92) and his solid wing. They traded victories early in the week, but when the wind got big the versatility and ease of handling of the wing mast and soft sail was victorious. This battle between sail and wing has been going on for 30 years in land sailing / dirt boating. In the 1980’s the wings had troubles in the light air creating enough power and were mostly able to handle the heavy stuff ( although scary at times.) Now times have changed and the wings are killers when it’s light to medium. Now when the wind comes up they have lots of power, but have a hard time keeping the boats on the ground (literally). One problem is stopping the wing from fluttering in a big puff/ shift, when you are trying to depower. When the wing flutters it picks up the front wheel into the air the boat then slides along on its transom and then it all comes crashing back down, usually breaking the wing or the body.
You have to realize that the apparent wind speeds are greatly different between light air and heavy. It is not uncommon to have upwards of 70 knots of apparent wind speed when going up wind. When was the last time you raced in 70 knots of breeze? This is a problem for the wings, the boats with soft sails can always put up a smaller sail, where the wings are stuck with what they got. Although reducing sail doesn’t always help. This year I was trying to stop (no brakes on dirt boats) as I was coming into camp. I had the mast pulled straight down the middle of the boat and the sail completely out (the stall position) but I was still going 90kph and accelerating. There were many spin outs, flat tires, a couple of capsizes, some near misses and some broken parts. I broke a spindle on one of my rear wheels, it was a 25mm titanium spindle and it broke clean off going 110kph while rounding the leeward mark.
The highest speed recorded for the week was US 92 at 145kph and the fastest lap, 4:00 on a 5.6 kilometer windward leeward course by US 25. This event is one of four events we will use this year to get ready for the World Championships in De Panne, Belgium in October. Team USA is hoping to bring 15 pilots to the championships, many bringing their own boats. All in all it was a great event. My lips are chapped, my face sunburned, bruises on my arms and legs and bleeding from both hands, I love it.
See you in the dirt,
Dennis Bassano US 8
President NALSA (North American Land Sailing Association