Trip on a sand yacht in Hardelot, within the wake of Louis Blériot

Would religion be an impediment to ascending to heaven? In entrance of the imposing cross of Saint Augustine, positioned among the many dunes with bronze reflections, the yeast of metaphysics gently rises in us, warmed by the solar that gilds the seashores of the Côte d’Opale.

The story is gorgeous to inform. In-built 1906 in the course of the embankment, constructed on the request of the creator of Hardelot station, Sir John Whitley, “an Englishman who loves France” (this essential precision is engraved in stone), this cross was of essentially the most stunning impact. Nevertheless it broken the momentum of an adventurer, the pilot and engineer centralien Louis Blériot, who struggled to take off from the bottom.

Aboard machines of his personal design, the person who had generally been nicknamed “King of the daisies”, a lot in order that his prototype plane loved diving into the grass, was drastically dismayed by this monument: he was planted like a heartthrob, proper in the course of its trajectory. The cross of Saint Augustine was due to this fact moved to the sting of the forest, planted within the backyard of Abbé Bouly, pastor of the close by city of Condette, recognized dowser and dowser.

The trail is lastly clear, aviation is saved! And Louis Blériot, who on the age of 37, on 25 July 1909, would grow to be the primary pilot to cross the Channel aboard the Bleriot XI, might proceed its advance.

The place of all exploits

Right this moment in Neufchâtel-Hardelot (Pas-de-Calais) there are some discreet testimonies of the boldness of this predecessor. Clues that float within the calm environment of this seaside resort, between Boulogne-sur-Mer and Le Touquet. The touring cross has regained a good place on the coast. A plaque has been positioned on the location the place Louis Blériot had his villa l’Escopette in-built 1911, a 32-room constructing destroyed by Allied bombing.

It’s anchored a stone’s throw from Place Louis-Marie-Cordonnier, so named in honor of the architect of Lille who drew up the plan of the station: walkers can nonetheless admire eight villas, spared by the shells, luxurious homes with marquis stone foundations, specified by an arch.

Hardelot additionally undoubtedly stays a little bit of Louis Blériot’s pioneering spirit, combined with the wind that scrapes the seashore and polishes the bottom at low tide. After a stroll down the Boulevard de la Mer, it’s certainly these heroic years that come to thoughts whenever you quiet down, curled up like a scallop in its shell, within the blue tub of a horse-drawn cart.

It’s right here, on the gleaming sands of Hardelot seashore, that Louis Blériot, dissatisfied with the fluttering of the gulls, imagined himself rolling within the wind. He favored the bottom, compact and easy. As early as 1910, along with a pal, the engineer Cazin, he invented the aeroplage, the ancestor of right this moment’s sand yachts – though sand yachts had been used to move supplies way back to historic Egypt.

A world champion as a information

“In the long run, our tanks are fairly much like Blériot’s machines! The one factor that has modified is the course. Right this moment we’ve got a single handlebar, on the entrance. Blériot designed a number of fashions, some with three-wheeled wood triangular hull, others with 4 wheels. Some had a steering wheel, others a rudder.describes our information, Grégory Ribéry.

Grégory Ribéry, 44, is in control of the sand yachting exercise and the administration group of the Drakkars membership in HardelotPlage (Pas-de-Calais).


Heat, weighted with a wonderful monitor document (he has been World, European and French land crusing champion a number of occasions), this 40-year-old heads the administration group of the Drakkars affiliation. Based in 1969, this membership is the perfect pier for many who need to comply with within the wake of Louis Blériot.

After consulting his anemometer to measure Éole’s energy, which was all relative that morning, Grégory Ribéry dismantled the construction of the quadriga, from the body to the rigging, for the neophyte. The sheet, or rope, will likely be used to stretch the sail of a glowing fluorescent yellow. The steering pedal, adjustable to the scale of the pilot, permits steering. A handbrake, on the aspect, will stop some setbacks. “Right here come the prevailing winds from the west”, specifies Grégory Ribéry, following airtight geometric figures on the sand. It is a matter of thermal breezes, penons and air currents, actual wind and obvious wind…

Clarification, earlier than the beginning, from Grégory Ribéry on the course of the wind. It is about being conscious.


Sand crusing is breathtaking

“We’re pretty much as good at navigation as we’re within the air, it’s no coincidence that Louis Blériot is the inventor of the sand yacht! † An awesome instructor, Grégory Ribéry, additionally a coach, found this self-discipline in 1995, on the age of 17. Intoxicated by the sensations, this soccer fanatic fell in love with this terrestrial sailboat, which appears to be carried as a lot by the wind as by poetry. “Sand crusing provides a sense of freedom. We inhale giant gulps of air. It is luck! †

A ardour shared by his son Kevin and one among his cousins, Dominique, who makes a speciality of organizing classes accessible to folks with disabilities. The Les Drakkars membership, which has nearly 100 members, welcomes about 5,000 folks yearly for classes or programs.

In Hardelot, the cradle of sand yachting, the breath of historical past has by no means died down. As early as 1913, the town hosted the primary worldwide air-beach assembly, the place some forty Belgian and French pilots gathered. And it was on this seashore, just a few many years later, that Bertrand Lambert educated earlier than breaking the world pace document, at Berck-sur-Mer in 1991, at 151.55 km/h (the present document of 202.9 km/h was established in 2009 by Englishman Richard Jenkins on a dry lake in California).

The seaside villas, in Anglo-Norman fashion, had been designed by architect Louis-Marie Cordonnier.


The Legacy of Louis Blériot

The wind of enthusiasm that drives us is not going to drag us to such extremes. “Sand crusing is a really accessible household passion. It may be practiced at any age, from 7 years. Gregory Ribery insists. “Certainly one of our pilots, Augustin Descure, who began right here as a baby, turned a sand yacht builder. He even took over a manufacturing firm, Airtrack, now primarily based in Doullens, within the Bay of the Somme. † The legacy of Louis Blériot, born 150 years in the past, on July 1, 1872, has been preserved.

Toes on the helm, it is time to sail, effectively within the hull. Sadly, this morning it’s a mild wind struggling to inflate the sail, pointing to the sky. We hoped for the spray, the cavalcade, it is just a little whisper that vibrates within the sail. Conciliatory, the land yacht nonetheless agrees to slip on the sand of the seashore, by way of jerks, within the gentle respiration of the world. For the 2 of us Éole!

What grace! Will our intrepid reporter, intoxicated by the wind, keep in mind when it is time to flip round?


set sail
Contact the Drakkars, the sand yachting heart. It’s open all yr spherical and is open to everybody, by way of formulation that adapt to your degree and your needs (from initiation to superior coaching).
Such an. : 03 91 21 44 32.
Web site:
Handle: Nautical Base, boulevard de la Mer 62152 Neufchâtel-Hardelot.
French Land Yachting Federation (FFCV):
Put together your go to to Neufchâtel-Hardelot:

in a novel, Braveness comes from the sky (Salvator, €21.90), the place she traces the historical past of a household of shipowners from Boulogne, Élisabeth Bourgois brings life to life within the seaside city of Hardelot within the 1910s.

Gregory Ribery44, is accountable for the sand yachting exercise and the administration group of the Les Drakkars membership, in Hardelot-Plage (Pas-de-Calais).

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