The other types of sailing

The other types of sailing

The other sail types

by Mark Jardine on Dec 12 at 11:00am PST

Emirates Team New Zealand’s wind-powered world speed record attempt at Lake Gairdner, South Australia – 11th December 2022 © Emirates Team New Zealand/James Somerset

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Look on Wikipedia and the first paragraph for the Sailing entry reads: “Sailing uses the wind – acting on a sail, wing sail or kite – to propel a craft on the water’s surface (sailing ship, sailboat, windsurfer or kitesurfer) on ice (ice boat ) or ashore (land yacht) via a chosen course, which is often part of a larger navigation plan.

Sailing is not defined by the boat or watercraft but by the physics of harvesting energy from the wind and as this has become more efficient it has become possible to sail faster and faster.

While Emirates Team New Zealand is primarily focused on defending the America’s Cup, they have a small side project that will break the land speed record. When it wasn’t raining, Glenn Ashby piloted the “Horonuku” on South Australia’s Lake Gairdner, a large endorheic salt lake, and finished on Sunday by going 222.4 kilometers per hour (that’s 138.2 miles per hour or 120 knots) in just 22 knots of wind.

This is a significant improvement over the 202.9 km/h recorded by Richard Jenkins on March 26, 2009 at Ecotricity Greenbird on Lake Ivanpah, California, USA.

Some might see this as a distraction from the America’s Cup, but Emirates Team New Zealand Principal, Matteo de Nora, sees things differently: “The Landspeed project was a new opportunity to push the boundaries in aerodynamics, structural forces, construction methods and materials Often underestimated is that the technologies we explore in challenges like this – or in an America’s Cup campaign – ultimately lay the foundation for the technology of tomorrow. Being technically ahead of the times fascinates us about all the challenges the team has faced so far.”

The team isn’t done yet and intends to push the record even further, most likely in early 2023. Perhaps they’re trying to match the record set by an ice yacht going 143 mph on Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin, way back in the year was erected in 1938. but there are some doubts about this speed and how it was recorded.

Many moons ago a group of friends and I in Southampton invented a radio controlled land yacht class which we eventually converted into a unified design called the 1DL. We had great fun driving them in parking lots using traffic cones as markers in the late ’90s and early 2000s, and even revived them for an event recently. The retail boom signaled the end of regular racing as parking lots started to fill up with cars, but perhaps we can haul them out again in the downturn and if shopping continues to shift online.

Back on the water, Bembridge Illusions hosted their 40th anniversary regatta over the weekend. For those unfamiliar with the class, it is a 12-foot sit-down keelboat designed by Olympic bronze medalist Jo Richards. It’s a bit like a 2.40 as used in the Paralympics until 2016, but also has a spinnaker.

It was a bitterly cold weekend in the UK but 23 hard-nosed sailors got out anyway to enjoy the regattas that continue throughout the winter on the Isle of Wight. So close to the water there really is nowhere to hide when the bow hits a wave!

All this shows once again how diverse sailing can be. Fast, slow, ancient or modern, on land, on ice, at sea or above sea, you can be propelled by the wind in many ways.

Boat foiling blurs the lines between surface craft and flying, leading to the question, “Is gliding sailing?”. Finally, another word for a glider is a glider, they utilize naturally occurring currents of ascending air and share many similarities with modern gliders, both in wing and foil form.

In the same way, kitefoilers are also similar to paragliders and, as you can see below, they certainly aren’t afraid to get some flight time. Maybe sailing is a bigger pastime than we thought?

Ultimately, definitions are just what is meant by a word. As long as we’re out there enjoying the wind and the world around us, who really cares what the actual definition of sailing is? The great thing is that there are so many ways we can enjoy it.

Markus Jardine
Editor-in-Chief of and

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