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Caithness Sand and Land Yacht Club
Sand Yacht Picture 28 January 03
From Bob Levens
27 January 03
From Bob Levens - 7 May 2002
Just thought I'd drop you a quick email with regard the latest pictures on the 'front page' of CCWS.
Seeing the kite buggies brought back memories of Sand Yachting that used to take place on Dunnet Beach when I was a lad. There was quite a active club based at Dunnet back in the late 60's with competitors coming up from Lytham St. Annes ( a big centre for the sport back then), and from as far afield as Holland, if my memory serves me right.
The majority of the competitors used DN class yachts (small single seaters with a body about the same size as a canoe!) and there were a couple of large two seaters also based at Dunnet. Most of the yachts ran on old aircraft wheels and tyres, bald for extra speed, and were all built from wood/marine ply. This made them quite heavy. The yachts that are in use today seem to be stripped right down to almost 2 planks, or just a light weight frame.
The club house used to be to the right of the visitor centre car park as you look towards the beach - almost next to the stream. I can still hear the sound of the sail ropes banging into the masts of the yachts parked behind the clubhouse on a windy day. Caithness is certainly a good place to base sports reliant on the windy aspects of its weather!!
I will always remember sailing down Dunnet Beach at almost 60 mph on my own - those sand yachts could really shift!!. Well, it felt like 60 mph to a young lad skimming along only a matter of a few inches off the sand!!!
I don't have any photos of those days ( my sister may do ) but I look back fondly on the weekends spent getting wet and capsizing onto the hard beach - yes you can capsize on land, and it hurts!!
I have a small collection of badges that I treasure and I've sent you a picture of them. The shield badge at the top is actually the one for the Caithness Sand and Land Yacht Club. The purple is meant to symbolise the heather, and the gull the sea, with the sail joining the two. It was designed by my father who was an active member if not the inspiration behind the sport in Caithness.
I seem to recall that Land Yachting still took place on the airfield at Castletown until fairly recently. I don't know if it still is but it would be nice to see yachts back on the beach again.
I hope you found this brief aspect of Caithness sport interesting.