Story by: ROB SETCHELL, Reporter
Friday, April 6, 2012
WHEN a teenage Rhys Davies sped across the beach in a land yacht for the first time, he knew he had discovered his sport.
More than two decades later, the 37-year-old from March is still passionate about racing - and now he is looking to become a British Champion for the third time.
Davies, who represents Anglia Land Yacht Club, has been competing at a national level since 1990.
He has become one of the country’s leading competitors in the minority sport, which sees three-wheeled vehicles with sails race at speeds of more than 50mph - powered purely by the wind.
Davies said: “I was sporty at school. I played a bit of rugby and all the rest of it. “But at the age of 13, to get your hands on a land yacht and career up the beach at speeds of 30 or 40mph was just brilliant.
l Land yachts were first used for transport and leisure in Ancient Eygpt and later China.
l Land yachting, also known as land sailing or sand yachting, became popular as a racing sport in the 1950s.
l The yachts are steered by pedals or hand levers.
l There are several types of yacht in different classes. Sails can be as large 8m and speeds can be as high as 70mph.
l The 2012 World Championships will be held in France, in July. The fourth round of the British Championships is on April 28/29 at Hoylake, Merseyside.
l British engineer Richard Jenkins broke the world land speed record for a wind-powered vehicle in 2009 – 126.1mph in his yacht.
“That was when the bug got me.”
Davies, who has competed in European and World Championships, won the British Land Yacht Championships in 2007 and 2010 in the standart class.
He is currently top of the standings in this year’s championships, with three events completed.
“The over-riding aim is to win my third championship,” he said. “It would just be amazing to have three.
“It has got a lot more competitive in the last couple of years so it’s now even more of a challenge.”
Davies, who teaches at Kingsfield Primary School, in Chatteris, won both races in the final of Anglia Land Yacht Club’s Winter Series on Sunday.
He said: “Out of four classes at the British Championships event last month our club took three, so there is some real talent here.
“We have got a small membership, but it’s a very good membership.”
For more information on the club, which is based at Bassingbourn Barracks, near Royston, visit: www.anglialandsailing.co.uk