One time the wind is welcome

By Simon Waters

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There's one event at the New Zealand Masters Games where the wind is welcome.

After seemingly months of never ending north westerlies competitors in the blokarting competition will have their fingers crossed for more of the same.

Blokarting is like sailing, only on land. It's been a sport at the Masters Games for a while and is set to be held at the Ohakea Air Force base over the weekend of February 4-5.

Organiser Robert Deighton says while spectators will not be able to attend the event, games organisers feel privileged to be able to use the Ohakea runway.

"They have been very good to us over the years."

Although entries are down slightly on previous years, 65 this year compared to 72 last games, Mr Deighton is pleased with the numbers.

About 20 New Zealanders who would ordinarily be competing at the games are in Australia taking part in the Australia Blokart Open instead.

"So we could say that we are getting more people interested in the sport, which is wonderful."

Mr Deighton says blokarting is highly addictive and quite safe for all ages.

"We had a family of four, including two teenage girls, sail at the weekend. None of them had tried blokarting before and they had a blast."

The tricky bit is getting used to having no brakes.

"The guns will slide or spin the kart to stop. But usually you turn into the wind and let the sail go to stop."

Karters use a rope connected to the sail to speed up or slow down much like an accelerator.

It costs as little as $1400 to get started in the sport with a modest kart and sail. More appointed set-ups will run owners $7500-plus.

The Masters Games blokarting is being run in conjunction with the Manawatu Blokarting Club which has 80 members from throughout Manawatu and Whanganui districts.

The club is the only one in New Zealand to have its own blokarting track, located at Sanson.

The club meets twice a week - on Saturdays and also Wednesdays.

Mr Deighton says blokarting does depend on wind. "There have been days when we stand around with our hands on our heads and talk."

Average wind speeds on club days ranges between 35 and 55 km/h. It's also possible to sail in wnds speeds of almost 100km/h "but that's a little more thrilling."

"It is the fastest form of sailing there is - even the America's Cup boats don't go that fast."

For members of the public disappointed not to be able to spectate during the games competition, a mini regatta is planned for Waitangi Day Monday at the Sanson track. About 33 blokarts are expected.

The Masters Games begin on Friday and run through to February 12.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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