Nearly one hundred competitors from Europe and the United States have been competing in the European Sand-Yachting championships at Lytham St.
Nearly one hundred competitors from Europe and the United States have been competing in the European Sand-Yachting championships at Lytham St. Annes in Lancashire this week.
The sport -- which dates back thousands of years -- works on the same principles as water-yachting, the major difference being that the "yachts" have wheels and run along beaches.
This year's championships -- which began on Sunday (31 August) -- were the biggest of their kind ever staged in Britain. The programme included two major international regattas and numerous smaller events.
On Thursday (5 September) competitors raced in heats and finals of the three major events -- Class I, Class II and Class III. Class I is run over the longest distance. Class III is run over the shortest, and has become the most popular "sprint" event.
Among the British winners were Viv Ellis who took the Women's Class II final on Thursday and went on to take the European Women's Sand Yachting title. The 39-year-old housewife won a bronze in the European championships in France last year.
Gayle Heard -- one of the top hopes for the British team -- could not beat the French entrants in Class III and took fourth place.
SYNOPSIS: The largest sand-yachting event ever held in Britain was staged at Lytham St. Annes in Lancahsire this week. It was the European sand-yachting championships -- an annual event held in the various coastal European countries. Britain's John Healey competed in the Class Two event.
In Class Three, Britain was represented by Gayle Heard. There were high hopes for Heard, but he finished fourth.
The women's Class Two race -- the only class for women -- was won by Viv Ellis of Britain. She took the European Women's sand-yachting title.
The longest race was the Class One for men. The race was dominated by the West Germans and French. Schroeder of West Germany and de Flandre of France were the early leaders.
The championships drew one hundred competitors from Europe and the United States this year. The sport is thousands of years old and relics of land yachts have been found in Egyptian tombs. Land yachts were used as a means of transport in Europe as far back as the sixteen century. The first sporting models were made in the late nineteenth century.
The week-long championships began on the first of September. The weather was overcast and with gusty winds, making it hard work for the competitors.