What is Sandboarding?
Sandboarding is a solo sport in which riders drift down sand dunes on sandboards. Sandboarding has increased its popularity in the past century, and there are sandboarding events held around the world annually where the best of the best gather to showcase their skills.
The sport's history derives from long ago when ancient Egyptians would use wooden planks to slide down sand dunes to move heavy materials. Even though this concept was introduced for transportation purposes, the idea of it being used as a sport is a possibility.
The growth of sandboarding grew in the 1970s when Gary Fluitt and Jack Smith designed sandboards that were longer and wider as opposed to their surfboard and snowboard counterparts. This was the point in time when sandboarding evolved and began to hold competitions and events globally.
The playing surface for sandboarding is sand dunes which have a vertical slope on a natural surface. Sand boarders should time when they are sandboarding, as the sand's surface can reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit, and is dependent on the location.
Sandboarding requires gloves to protect your hands and a helmet to protect your head in case of a fall. Also very important is protection against the sun, including a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Sandboarding calls for a specific sandboard that is longer and wider than other types of sporting boards. Riders must wear sandboard boots similar to skiing or snowboarding. The boots are held together to the sandboard by bindings. Goggles also help protect the rider's eyes from the sand and sun.
Here is the essential sandboarding equipment you should have:
- Sandboard Boots
- Sandboard Bindings
The idea of sandboarding is to make it down the hill safely. Riders need core strength along with lower-body strength and balance in order to maneuver down the dunes. Unlike snowboarding, there are no lifts, so riders have to walk up to the top of the dune to ride back down it.
Rules and Regulations
There aren't specific rules for basic sandboarding, however there are some things that riders should know on the dunes. Sandboarders should look at the direction that they want to go. While going down the dune, riders should keep their body weight on their back. When turning, put pressure on your toes and heels, which will depend on which direction you want to go.
Here are the most important sandboarding rules you should know:
- Look in the direction of where you are going
- Keep your body weight on your backside
- Put pressure on your on your toes or heels when turning
Sand dunes have strong exposure to the sun throughout the day. It is crucial to avoid the times in the day when the sun is the strongest. It is recommended that sandboarders hit the dunes in the early morning or late afternoon before sundown. Another strategy is to know the dunes that you are sandboarding. Sand dunes are all unique with different climates, weather, height, and steepness. It's important to keep your body weight back as you begin your descent and find your balance on the board. Don't be afraid to use your whole body to find your center of gravity, and stretch your arms out for additional balance. When turning, use your toe and heels to pivot into your turn. When boarding, be sure to have your back knee bent on the board, with your weight back and eyes on your determined course.
Here are the most important sandboarding strategies you should know:
- Avoiding peak sun hours
- Know the sand dunes well
- Keep your body weight back upon beginning your descent
- Find your balance and use your whole body
- Turn with your toes and heels
- Keep your back knee bent, weight back, and eyes on the course
Here is the common lingo and slang in sandboarding:
- Backcountry: This word refers to the sandy terrain where sandboarders gather in order to showcase their skills on the dunes
- Backfoot: Similar to other sports that involve a board, "backfoot" refers to the foot that is closest to the board tail
- Segmented Edges: Segmented edges are the steel edges around the edges of the sandboard. They give the board durability in order to help the board last over a long period of time.
Alex King was the Sand Master Jam champion in 2000. He has roots in Australia as a professional surfer. Those skills translate, as he also holds the World Drag Record Run for 6.57 seconds at 300 feet. Alex King has been seen in sandboarding publications such as Oregon's Sand Master Park, Sand Mountain, and Dumont Dunes.
Events and Competitions
There are multiple sandboarding tournaments held annually around the world. Competitions are often made up of multiple events, where athletes are given a numbered score for each trick. These numbers are added up to a total which determines the winner. These events are often held alongside music and art festivals.
Here are the most popular tournaments in sandboarding:
- Sand Master Jam: Taking place in Florence, Oregon, this event has been around since 1996. It takes place in late spring/early summer. The park was the first of its kind because it commercialized sandboarding.
- World Championships: The Sandboarding World Championships are held every year in Hirschau, Germany. The competition takes place at Monte Kaolino, Europe's largest sand hill. It is over 300 feet tall, and there is a sand lift to take riders to the top.
- Prainha Beach: Taking place in Aquirax, Ceara, Brazil, this event is the counterpart to the Sand Master Jam. It is made up of professionals as well as amateurs who want to compete in freestyle events.
- Sand Sports Super Show: This is an annual event hosted in Costa Mesa, California, that showcases the sport's new equipment and technology. Professional sandboarders will make an appearance to perform tricks for the crowd.
What is sand sledding?
Sand sledding is a way of getting down sand dunes. This can be done with sleds known as bumsleds or sand toboggans and are usually the same material as sandboards.
Can you use a snowboard while sandboarding?
It is not recommended to sandboard with a snowboard. Sand has higher friction than snow, so the board will not slide as easily.
How fast can you go when sandboarding?
Currently, the Guinness World Record for speed on a sandboard is held by Erik Johnson, with a speed of 51 mph. Higher speeds have been recorded when using skis (sand-skiing) as opposed to a sandboard.
What should you wear when sandboarding?
When going out to sandboard, one should bring a helmet, knee and elbow pads, and goggles. It is also recommended that sandboarders wear long clothing to protect their body from the sun.