What is Sandboarding?
Sandboarding (also known as Sand Surfing) is a board sport similar to snowboarding that takes place on sand dunes rather than snow-clad slopes. It involves sliding down, or across, a sand dune while standing with both feet strapped to a board. More daring people use a board with no bindings, a method that is considered by many as much more dangerous.
While this sport has followers throughout the world, for obvious reasons it is much more popular in desert regions like Dubai and UAE that has a limitless supply of sand dues to choose from.
The technical problems and cost of building a mechanized lift on a sand dunes means that most boarders must either walk to the top of the dune after every run or hitch a ride with a dune buggy back to the top. On the up-side sand dunes are usually available all year round in comparison to other snow sports.
Made from formica or laminex the sandboard base has to be much harder than the materials used in a snowboard. It is normal to wax your sandboard before a run otherwise your board will not glide as well over the sand. a paraffin based wax designed especially for sandboarding is preferable. Abrasion of the underside of the board by the sand is normal. Hardwood ply is used for many terrain sandboards while a fibre glass, wood, plastic composite is used for others. On steeper dunes even a standard snowboard can be used.
Erik Johnson, a professional snowboarder and sandboarder, holds the Guinness World Record for Speed on a Sandboard at 51 mph. Unofficial speeds of 60 mph have reportedly been clocked.
Sandboarding in Dubai
About 30 minutes drive from Dubai is the desert with the biggest dunes in the country. While you can drive your own 4×4 to get there (don’t forget your GPS!) there are many companies which provide excursions with experienced drivers.
Normally it is best to Sandboard in the morning when temperature is not too high, while sandboarding in 40°C is memorable, you do not want to do it for too long without water and a break in the shade. This leaves the rest of the afternoon for dune-bashing and excursions.
There are few sand dunes which are 200-300m high. The biggest one (locally called “Big Red “) is very popular with locals and visitors but because there are no organised system or rules it turns into a free for all. It is best to find a quieter dune (this is one of the advantages of using a local tour guide).
Just like when you start snowboarding it’s best to start with a smaller dune.
Some of the equipment used by the tour guides may be sub-standard, as most visitors just stand on the boards and slide down the hill rather than try to cut any turns. To get better quality equipment speak to your tour operator before you leave on your tour.