“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.
Dill andSchumacher 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.