2008 Ivanpah blokart Open and Rally
the wing mast was cool.
few days before our event saw the big landsailors ripping around the
California desert at the Ivanpah dry lake bed. Our regatta took place
in what some would call sailing's “go-karts.” Everyone knows how fun
driving a go-cart is – now imagine a quiet one, powered by wind, that
goes 40 mph. Then imagine starting with 40 of them. Dave Trude put this
report together for us. Enjoy.
bloKart is small,
fun, cheap, and easily transported. It's supported by a great group of
Kiwis and is a must for every sailor to try. Races start like any
regular sailboat race - The mark is set upwind and after a 3-minute
countdown – WHOOSH – you're off. Races are timed for 15 minutes, and
the object is to get more laps done than anyone else. Your finish place
counts if there are several on the same lap, and laps and position are
tracked with radio transponders.
event, sponsored by Class
Action Racing, brought pilots from around the world - 2 from France,
1 from Spain, 2 from Britain several from Australia, and of course, the
NZ team headed by bloKart inventor Paul Beckett. There were several East
Coast, Great Lakes and Southwest sailors from the US, too. I had a
chance to chat with Sean Fidler, who knows several of the
sailors/organizers from Florida I have sailed against in disabled
sailing. Sean is fast and it was obvious from the seminars he gave
on-site that he knows racing.
was my first time landsailing in the desert, and WOW once you go fast
you can't go back. On Saturday practice (so everyone gets to know each
other), things were going fine until the wind piped up. In the
second-to-last race someone was barging at the start and there was a
collision. In the last race, I was around 5th and hauling ass at
something around 40 mph into the leeward mark. When turning upwind, 2
things happen - you turn and the wind changes direction, and then it
accelerates incredibly fast. POW - I was down and it was hard. So hard
I felt like my head had been hit. I cracked my lower carbon section,
tore my mast sock, and rattled my beginner's nerves. To the rescue
came Paul Beckett (Mr. bloKart) and replaced the section with a new
stiffer ultra carbon bottom section. Right on Paul!
with sailboat racing are everywhere - timed starts, upwind technique,
shift playing and general tactics, and rounding marks are pretty much
the same. Port/starboard rules apply, except the closing speeds are
considerable. During the start, there's a box set up on the downwind
side of the line that no sailor can enter until the 10-second point.
Once entered, you can't turn around if you're early – you have to
circle all the way around and you can't enter the box from the side.
This is necessary to avoid collisions at huge closing speeds. When
completing a lap you have to sail through the finish line to get your
transponder to register your lap. This gets tight when you are lapping
started at noon on Sunday, with the wind up big time. I was still
unnerved so I went with a 2-meter sail (bad choice), and stayed in
contact but finished mid fleet all day. I even had a spin out where I ended
up going backwards on a reach. After slowing down, I spun around
and was headed in the right direction. Think NASCAR meets sailing - this
is the only way to sail.
saw 2 races that probably should not have counted and Tuesday was dead.
But Wednesday was really fun. Choosing the 3-meter sail, I was hanging
right with the top guys - it really pays to know how to sail upwind.
Many competitors would foot for speed after the start. Being able to
point right up to the wind paid big gains. I finished in the top 10 all
day and had a blast.
had 2 types of courses. A typical triangle and a sort of rectangular
one, with a mark set inside on the long leg, just opposite the start that
we all had to jibe around. It was very easy to change courses if the
wind changed. Our race chairman Mike Moody did a fine job of keeping us
after one crash and lots of fun, all I can say is "I will be back
in the desert going fast." Not too bad for my first time racing in
BloKart worlds will be in New
Zealand this October. All I need is a sponsor.
and by Category
Robins (some of these are videos and can you find me)