What happens when you combine go-karting and windsurfing?
Time Out Dubai staff
What happens when you combine go-karting with windsurfing? Time Out throws caution to the wind and finds out.
When the wind blows a kart, what do you get? A blokart, that’s what. A blokart is a three-wheeled carriage resembling a recumbent bike, with a 3m high windsurf-style sail attached to it. First introduced to the region in 2006, Blokart Middle East says that the wind-driven sport is the most fun you can have without an engine. Curious? Then read on…
How did the idea come about? The blokart was designed in 1999 by Paul Beckett in Papamoa, New Zealand. A sporting enthusiast with a background in surfing and hang gliding, Paul wanted the blokart, or land yacht, to be easy enough for anyone to use. That meant it had to be small enough for children to use but big enough to seat an adult, and be designed for people with limited mobility.
‘I sat down on the floor of my office at some ungodly hour and drew the shape of the blokart,’ Paul explains. ‘While designing it, it was important to keep in mind that if we wanted to make blokart an international brand, it needed to fit in some sort of packaging that was transportable on an aeroplane.’ The result? A blokart that comes in a bag that weighs less than 35kg, which can be assembled within 15 minutes.
Where can I get one from? There are three types of blokarts available. The Classic is an entry-level blokart, which is strong but sacrifices stainless steel features for those on a budget, while the Pro is made from 100 percent stainless steel and is recommended for beach sailing. The Comp, meanwhile, has a powder coat paint finish that is more durable than liquid paint. The blokarts are all lightweight and easy to manoeuvre. A blokart costs from Dhs9,500. This includes a bag, a 3m, 4m or 5.5m sail in five different colours and a mast made from fibreglass, carbon or a combination of the two. The bigger the sail, the faster you go. Noukhada, based in Abu Dhabi (www.noukhada.ae, 02 558 1889) supplies blokarts for around Dhs15,000.
Is blokarting easy? Yes. Essentially you just get in, belt up, hold on to a handle with one hand and with your other, pull a sheet rope, which is attached to the sail, to control the angle of it. To ‘sail,’ let the rope go so the sail fills with wind. If a rear wheel lifts off the ground while you’re moving, loosen the rope to relieve tension in the sail – this will bring the wheel back to the ground. If you feel as though you are going to capsize, let the rope go, hold on to the handle bar with both hands and allow the blokart to take the fall. Keep your hands and feet inside the blokart so they don’t get crushed. When approaching a corner at a high speed, let the rope go and focus on steering the blokart around the corner – then re-gather the rope; this fills the sail with wind allowing you to pick up momentum. To stop, let the rope go. If need to stop urgently, let go of the rope and turn.
What is the perfect blokarting terrain? Ideal blokarting locations include flat beaches, car parks and sports grounds. The National Federal car park on the Corniche near Hilton Abu Dhabi is a good bet when it’s quiet.
What about the weather? Blokarting is very much a weather-dependent sport. There needs to be wind in order for the activity to be favourable. If the wind is right, you can sail up to 80km/h. Three to ten knots is the ideal wind speed. Always keep the wind direction in mind, too – if the wind is coming from 12 o’clock then you can’t sail into an 11 o’clock or one o’clock direction. The more you turn away from the wind, the easier it is to set sail.
DO • Remember to buckle up
• Wear a helmet, gloves and closed shoes
• Stay in your blokart if it turns over and wait for help
DON’T • Leave your blokart unattended
• Stand behind a blokart, as strong winds can cause the sail to swing unexpectedly
• Hold the sail of a parked blokart, as this can make the wind catch it, overturn the kart For more information, visit www.blokartme.com (04 311 6634).