Sandboarding is a boardsport and extreme sport similar to snowboarding that involves riding across or down a sand dune while standing on a board, either with both feet strapped in or while standing loose, without bindings. Sandboarding can also be practised sitting down or lying on the belly or the back. It typically involves a sandboard, although it is also possible to use sleds, surfboards, a skateboard deck, or snowboards.
Sandboarding has adherents throughout the world, but is most prevalent in desert areas or coastal areas with beach dunes. It is less popular than snowboarding, partly because it is very difficult to build a mechanised ski lift on a sand dune, meaning participants must walk or ride a dune buggy or all-terrain vehicle back to the top of the dune. On the other hand, dunes are normally available year-round as opposed to ski resorts, which are seasonal.
The sandboard base is much harder than a snowboard, and is built mostly out of formica or laminex with special base materials now being made for this sport. To glide in the sand, the board bottom is often waxed, usually with a paraffin-based sandboard wax, before a run. Afterwards, the bottom of the board may have a lightly sanded look to it, while 'Race Base' tends to polish smoother and glossier with use. Most terrain sandboards are composed of hardwood ply, while 'full-size' sandboards are a wood, fiber glass, and plastic composite. However, a snowboarding base will sometimes work on steeper dunes.
Sandboarding in Australia
Lucky Bay, about 30 km south of Kalbarri, in Western Australia, is another sandboarding hotspot. Sandboarding Tours are offered in the area.
The Stockton dunes, 2.3 hours north from Sydney. Stockton Bight Sand Dunes system is up to one kilometre wide, 32 kilometres long, and covers an area of over 4,200 hectares. The massive sand dunes climb up to 40 metres high. Located only minutes from the centre of Nelson Bay, it is the largest sand dune system in Australia.
Sandboarding in Africa
Sandboarding sites in Egypt include the Great Sand Sea near Siwa Oasis واحة سيوة in Egypt's Western Desert, the Qattaniya القطانية sand dunes (1.5 hr drive on/off-road from Cairo), El Safra الصفراء and Hadudah هدودة dunes midway between Dahab and St. Catherine in Sinai.
Namibia features sand-skiing, which is similar to sandboarding, performed with skis instead of a board. Most of the sand-skiing is performed in the Namib desert dunes around Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. With a special permit it is sometimes possible to sand-ski at the world's highest dunes in Sossusvlei. Henrik May, a German living in Namibia for some 10 years, set a Guinness World Record in speed sand-skiing on 6 June 2010. He reached a speed of 92.12 km/h.
After some pioneers like Derek Bredenkamp who boarded Swakopmund around 1974, commercial operators in South Africa began offering sandboarding to tourists in 1994. In 2000 the Sandboarding South Africa league was established. Between 2002 and 2004 the South African Sandboarding League held competitions on the Matterhorn Dune located between Swakopmund and Walvis bay. Competition events included dual slalom, boarder cross and big air events. In 2005 and 2006 Alter Action held sandboarding competitions at Matterhorn but the competitions no longer formed part of the South African Sandboarding League during those years. The league collapsed, then the sport was revived again in 2007 with weekly sandboarding sessions in and around Cape Town and Gauteng.
Sandboarding in the U.S.
Sand Master Park, located in Florence, Oregon USA is a sandboard park with 40 acres (160,000 m2) of private sculpted sand dunes and a full-time pro shop. Dune Riders International is the governing body for competitive sandboarding worldwide and sanctions three events each season at Sand Master Park.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve near Alamosa, Colorado has sandboarding on what it calls the tallest dunes in North America. Sandboarding and skiing are permitted anywhere on the dunefield away from vegetated areas.
Sandboarding in South America
Peru is known for having large sand dunes in Ica, some reaching up to 2 km. Duna Grande in Ica is the largest sand dune in the world. The Copa Sandboarding Perú (Peru – Sandboarding Cup) has been held near Paracas every year since 2009. There are also great dunes near the capital city (Lima) in Chilca.
In Chile, sandboarding is practiced throughout the north of the country, including the Medanoso dunes in Copiapo (where the Dakar rally takes place), Puerto Viejo beach in Caldera, excellent dunes in Iquique, and some near Viña del Mar.
Sandboarding in Central America
Sandboarding in Europe
In the North East region of the United Kingdom, there is a small beach at Seaton Sluice where people can sandboard. This is a good alternative to sledding, as there is insufficient snow to support sledding there, even though the UK has a cold climate, with cold winters and cool summers.
- Sandboarding World Championship – The SWC was held annually in Hirschau (until 2007), Germany at Monte Kaolino, currently also the site of Europe’s largest sand hill. Riders can board down dunes over 300 feet (91 m) tall, riding into a water landing site at the base of the hill. It has a sand lift, the only one in the world. Events include slalom (akin to snowboarding's parallel giant slalom), freestyle (similar to freestyle snowboarding) and sandboard cross (cf. snowboard cross).
- Sand Master Jam – Annual sandboarding event that takes place in Florence, Oregon at Sand Master Park. This event occurs in late spring or early summer. The Sand Master Jam has been held since 1996.
- Pan-American Sandboarding Challenge – This event takes place in July in Aquiraz, Ceara, Brazil at Prainha’s Beach. It features amateurs and professionals who wish to compete in freestyle and jump events.
- Sand Sports Super Show – Annual outdoor event for all sand sports, including sandboarding. This three-day event takes place in September in Costa Mesa, California at the Orange County Fair and Expo Center.
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