"Iron Duck" Sets
World Land Sailing Speed Record
On their second trip to
Lake Ivanpah in the past five months, Bob Dill
(Burlington) and Bob Schumacher (Shelburne) set a
world land speed sailing record of 116.7 mph.
built their first land yacht in 1994 in Schumacher's
shop. It was made from wood and carried a two person
crew. It had triangulated struts supporting the wing
structure that was mounted on the starboard axle.
This yacht was 38 feet long and 18 feet wide. The
West Coast sailors christened it the "Mammoth from
Vermont" (later to become the "Wooden Duck") when it
first appeared in Nevada for a speed test.
One of the problems of
living in Vermont and building a land sailing yacht
is there is no place to sail it. Dill and Schumacher
must take their boats to Ivanpah Dry Lake, in
Nevada, just outside Las Vegas to sail.
In 1994, on their first
day of trials with the "Wooden Duck" the wind was
too light to get the heavy machine moving. The next
day the winds came up and they got it up to 73 mph.
Coming back from the run; the got hit by a 55-mph
puff and tipped over. The "Wooden Duck" suffered a
broken wind and strut, and by the time they got it
repaired the wind and their time had run out.
This was a good lesson
for the pair of designers. They decided to go back
to the drawing board and build a new boat .This
time, they switched to tubular steel, which would be
safer and stronger. Christened the "Iron Duck" this
design represented a different philosophy. The new
boat is 39 feel long, 21' wide, weighs 1600 pounds.
It supports 80 square feet of sail on an unstayed
wing mast and has an off-centered forward wheel. The
biggest design change was from a two person to a
single member crew.
During their trip to
Lake Ivanpah in November 1998, they reached 91 miles
per hour with the new boat. At this point they knew
that the record was within reach. It was just a
matter of getting the correct conditions.
Unfortunately, they had to return to Vermont before
they got the right weather.
When they returned in
March, they knew they had the best chance yet of
getting the record. They shattered the world record
on March 15 by going 108mph, and on March 20 they
increased it to 116.7mph.
"This is very a
significant feat" said Schumacher. "There is quite a
load on the mast when you add together the wind and
boat speed. "The mast really bends a lot."
Schumacher and Dill are
hoping to bring together a group of sailors and
designers focused solely on speed at next year's
event. To learn more about land sailing visit the
North American Land Sailing Association web site.