New York Daily Photo Analytics

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Under the Sun

When I saw the tip of a sail at a distance, darting to and fro, I was so excited. I knew what I was seeing: land sailing (aka land yachting or sand yachting). My first exposure to this activity was on television many years ago from the flats of Utah or Nevada. At the time I was fascinated - the whole thing looked so exhilarating and novel. However, I assumed I would never see this type of thing, lest I make a trip out west with a specific agenda to find a land sailing locale.

Land sailing in New York City? Floyd Bennett Field, with all of its unused runways, is a natural for this, but it still caught me by surprise to see an activity that requires such a large amount of unobstructed space. Years of living in New York City conditions you to negating an activity like this from contemplation.

It took some circumnavigating by car to find the runway being used. I was greeted cordially by the sole sailer at the time, Rick Honor, who had just done an interview for a piece on Floyd Bennett Field by the New York Times. Some would say it was another case of Morphic Resonance.
Rick was extremely generous, answering whatever questions I had about the activity and the equipment. He showed me his car, which was packed with a variety of air-powered vehicles, including equipment for kite boarding. He told me that on many weekends, there were land sailers who would be happy to teach me and let me sail one of their rigs. See my video of Rick land sailing here.

I was also surprised to learn that this activity was not born recently but had variations going back to China and Egypt. The modern precursor is credited to Flemish scientist Simon Levin in the 16th century - see painting here.
In its current incarnation, land sailing equipment is high-tech, with eight classes of vehicles including kite buggying. The standard construction today consists of a tricycle buggy with a main sail. Land yachting competitions take place worldwide. I was astounded to find a photo of a sail wagon on the streets of Brooklyn from the early 20th century, circa 1910-15. There is truly nothing new under the sun...

Related Post: Floyd Bennett Field, Umbrella and Chevy


Vivien said...

They both are good photos, I also like very much the painting. Your video makes the story more interesting.

Great blog!

Thérèse said...

In New York City? Amazing! Just great!
Sand sailing is great too...

Michelle Johnson said...

I'm intrigued and wouldn't mind giving this a whirl. I'm beginning to understand there's nothing you can't find in NY. Your pictures are great. Have a wonderful night.

Kris said...

Now that looks like fun.

Mary said...

Glad to see him wearing a helmet. If it goes over, it could be very painful.

(Am I showing my age?)