Thanks to Bill "Hollywood" Price for his video talents. Visit his Vimeo page to view more vids of the 2012 Blokart Worlds. In this Video (turn up the volume) there are many shots of Sean Fidler (a green sail), who one the performance Heavy Weight class and Santi Oliver (a red sail), who took second battling. To view this live was a real treat and while the video is good they never do justice. The courses were set up for maximum viewing pleasure of the leeward mark roundings and the starts. You’ve all seen the photo of the crash……well, it happened right in front of me about 20 yards/meters upwind. Next time, this is an event not to be missed, with cheap hotels near by and a clean room waiting after a day of racing, yea…they’ll be back and you should too.
Ivanpah this year was the gustiest and windiest I have experienced in my past 5 trips out. Several large dirt devils came right though the event site and could have laid waste had we not seen them coming. People laid down on their sails with their karts tipped over so the winds would not lift and fling the Blokarts around.
One thing I can say about the Blokart. It is a craft like the 2.4mR that is a true crossover. It really allows someone like me, a paraplegic, to race against the non injured. It uses a yoke to steer not pedals that many of the larger land sailors have. There were 4 wheelchair sailors and a few others that used canes or crutches to get around. This sport is so fun, fast, green, accessible and relatively inexpensive compared to traditional sailing that I am surprised more Americans are not doing it. Many of the International groups that came to the event had more in their group than the total number of Americans at the event.
Blokart Racing has 2 divisions, Production and Performance. In the Production class there is almost nothing you can change to the stock Blokart. The Performance Class uses the POD or the cowling that makes it look so cool and you are allowed to change the lines, ad cleats and shape your stock battens to induce camber at the point you wish. Both divisions can clean out the stock grease in the wheel bearings and use light weight lubricants or greases. Disabled sailors are allowed to make modifications to help with their disability while sailing but it cannot enhance the performance of the Blokart. Any modifications made to the Blokart must be put to the scrutineers for approval. For the Worlds, within each division there were 4 weight classes. The biggest classes were the Performance Middle and Heavy Weights. They were a pleasure to watch and far more interesting that any motor sport I have seen. The upcoming AC will have nothing compared to this event. Rounding the leeward mark at 35 to 50mph makes traditional sailing seem…….well, BORING.
As for my self, I sadly underestimated the Performance light weight competition. In previous years many Middle and Heavy Weights came out to Ivanpah but I never had seen any of the Light Weights. I guess I was lulled into thinking there would not be much competition, though I did manage 2 4th places, a 5th (ending up in 7th LW), the fierce competition was almost mind boggling. After the first day I wish I had some new sails, mine are 4 and 5 years old. Thank goodness I did not travel too far. In retrospect, I should have entered the Production Class but I wanted to hang with the speedsters. Enough excuses though. The event was a real treat and to be among so many excellent sailors/pilots and great people.The Kiwi’s and Spaniards dominated the event but we did have 2 Americans on the podium along with a few from Gbr, Aus, Ned, Bel, Fra and Ltu.
The Blokart Worlds are a biennial event and it looks like a Northern European country is submitting a bid. Another worlds at Ivanpah is at least 4 years off unless everyone wants to come back. But not to worry, there is always the North Americans next year and I am sure we will see a few familiar faces back on the Playa.
Many thanks to Velocitek for their sponsorship, Blokart International and all the people who helped us disabled sailors out changing rigs in the gusty conditions. I had tons of help from my fellow Americans along with the Brits and the Spanish who had their team tents right next to the Disabled Staging area (yea, it was blue hatched). All the volunteers who made it happen deserve a big WHOOOOOO YA.