Every issue features live-in road tests of all the latest models and reviews of parks throughout Scotland and the North of England by respected industry insiders – plus the latest news and what’s on guides. Whether deciding on which caravan or motorhome to buy, looking for the ideal park to visit or browsing for new gear to enhance the touring experience, Scottish Caravans & Motorhomes is the perfect companion for travels throughout Scotland and the North of England.
Activityguide Catching the breeze Garry Fraser discovers the hair-raising joy of sailing on land Picture Marieke McBean/Blown away I’VE oftEn walkEd along St Andrews’ West Sands, immortalised in the film Chariots of Fire, but I’d never sailed across them until I met up with Guy and Jamie McKenzie. The twins run Blown Away, whose key activity is land yachting – or ‘Blokarting’, to aficionados of this particular brand of machine, designed in New Zealand. I was there to experience hurtling along the sands in a blue-sailed Blokart. It looked really easy – but doesn’t everything until you try it out? There are photographs of land yachting on the West Sands from the early 1900s, but as far as Guy and Jamie know, they’re the first commercial operator in Scotland this century. I arrived at the sands to be greeted by Guy and almost still conditions. There’d be no yachting that day unless the wind picked up to at least eight knots. Having experienced gale-force winds on these very sands more than once, the stillness was almost surreal, so I silently mouthed a prayer to the Great Gusto, God of Wind, for him to do something positive. He quickly obliged, and within a half an hour or so the flags on the nearby Old Course started to flap. We were in business. The sea was way, way out, the sun was Clockwise from above: More Van Morrison than Vangelis, but I got under way eventually; the feeling in motion is exhilarating; Blown Away is happy to host novice riders Below: Twins Guy and Jamie MacKenzie – don’t ask me which is which shining, the sand was flat and beckoning – and I was raring to go. Guy and Jamie positioned two bollards about 90 metres apart. The idea was to maneouvre round them in a figure of eight, ensuring that at every turn the sail was in position to pick up the wind for the return leg. As I mentioned: easier said than done. Second wind With a moderate breeze at my back, I whizzed along, turned at the correct moment then came to a sudden halt. I hadn’t mastered the art of tacking into the wind, which is one of the basics of yachting, on land or sea. However, with Guy and Jamie giving a helping push, I was soon on my way again. In fact, both were the essence of patience as I becalmed myself on more than one occasion. To be fair, I did manage some turns without help – but not too often, I have to confess. Once you get going, it’s quite an exhilarating experience. There’s some danger of tipping over if you take a corner too quickly 68 Scottish Caravans & Motorhomes winter 2017 www.scottishcaravansandmotorhomes.co.uk
or too sharply, but you’re safely belted in, and a crash helmet is supplied that would avoid too heavy a dunt on the sand if you were to go head-over-heels. ‘We’re careful to only operate in what we consider are safe conditions,’ explains Jamie. ‘Safe not only for the participants but also for every other beach user! This means that we are continuously assessing all risk elements throughout our activities to prevent any potential danger.’ All very sensible. But it’s clear to see that Guy and Jamie get just as much fun out of the activity as their clients. ‘We have a quiet wry smile when people ask where they can put their handbag on the land yacht,’ admits Jamie (they can’t). ‘We also smile when some of our customers turn up with full protective-weather [sea] yachting gear, particularly when we’re in shorts and flip-flops.’ Then again, ‘it’s worth mentioning that we get a great buzz out of some of our customers’ achievements. Like the 88-year-old who had land yachting on his bucket list, and the special needs kids’ reaction and thrill when they get a land yacht going. ‘These type of things are the icing on the cake to the fun of creating great memories for visitors from home and abroad to the beach.’ ‘It’s a great place to land yacht,’ adds Guy. In fact, St Andrews has created a ‘Wind Zone’ at the far end of the beach where wind sports are Yacht facts Land yachting was first recorded as early as the fifth century in China Belgian André Dumont is credited with the invention of the modern land yacht in 1898 Louis Blériot, the aviation pioneer, took up land yachting with an adapted version of Dumont’s machine when it became too dangerous for him to fly The current world speed record is held by British engineer Richard Jenkins, who reached a top speed of 202.9 kph (126.1 mph) in March, 2009. Rather him than me! A land yacht race of over 2,730 km (1,700 miles) took place in the Sahara in 1967 Zephyr, a land-yachting rover, was used for scientific research on the planet Venus A different variation on land yachting is the Whike, which has pedals for use when there’s no wind available Picture Marieke McBean/Blown away encouraged. Add the ease of access and plentiful free parking, and there are few other places quite as conducive. The twins chose land yachting because it was something that previously wasn’t available. ‘While we were still at college, we decided we’d look at the possibilities of working for ourselves in outdoor activities. After researching the industry, we looked for an activity that wasn’t currently offered in Scotland and was exciting enough to create an adrenalin buzz.’ Land yachting fitted the bill, and they reckon it’s now added a third ‘G’ to St Andrews’ image: ‘Golf, Gown and Great fun.’ Or Garry stalling a Blokart, depending on your point of view. Blown Away also offer stand-up paddling, kayaking, and Zap Cats – powerful inflatable catamarans. I’m something of a land-lubber, so land yachting is as close as I need to get, thanks! Packages are available for individuals, corporate groups, families, hen/stag parties and school groups. For details, phone 07784 121125 or go to www.blownaway.co.uk. winter 2017 Scottish Caravans & Motorhomes 69
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