Thursday, 10 June 2021

Are Helmets Worth It?

It's been a long time that I've had a poll regarding Sandboarding helmets on the right hand side of the page so I thought I'd take another look at the topic and look at the results while I'm here. As of 8th February 2020, the question was: "Sandboarders, do you own a helmet that you use regularly?" and with 9 votes in total, 7 respondents (78%) said "No" whereas 2 respondents (22%) said "Yes" and that doesn't surprise me because I'm forever seeing posts on Instagram of someone doing a run in Chile or wherever without any headgear; to which part of me thinks that it preserves the image and having a helmet would add accessories where space may be limited but at the same time, I also develop a degree of concern for these people who are involved for their safety.

So today I'll ask if helmets are worth the hassle for Sandboarding; the first topic we'll go to is regarding legality.

To quote an older blog post: "In November 2016, the wearing of helmets was made mandatory in all InterSands Sandboarding events." It's true that helmets are compulsory in some if not the majority of sports; but if we're talking about Sandboarding specifically then you might think that helmets are an extra designed for safety because all the stock photos you see of people on dunes, then the reality is different.

I couldn't find a single law regarding the mandatory wearing of a Sandboarding helmet; however, laws are different from policies and they are inconsistent amongst countries, and resorts. Intersands events require helmets whereas Sand Master Park do not and they are "rarely worn". But if we turn to Snowboarding & Skiing, a helmet mandate almost became a law in California in 2010 with the passage of Senate Bill 880. [1].

There are more likely to be rules that are there for the safety of minors; "for instance, in Italy children under the age of 14 must wear a ski helmet. If you’re caught without a helmet you will be fined." [2].

But for our winter equivalent, there exists only one place where helmets must be worn, Nova Scotia in Canada is the only jurisdiction in the world that requires that helmets be worn while skiing, failure to comply will result in a hefty fine. [2].

So considering that we won't necessarily be in a nanny state, it brings us to our next topic: safety. This one is self-explanatory:

So if snowboarding and skiing usually require helmets either by a law or a resort policy, why not Sandboarding? Well according to Doctor Dune himself on a Fox News article back in 2015: "The sand is very soft, so helmets aren’t necessary" [3]. It's true that sand is very loose and if you fell head first onto a sand dune, you'll be much better off than if it was a snow capped mountain; but if we wanted to compare the number of deaths, it's not hard to see that there are more Snowboarding & Skiing deaths in 1 year than there are Sandboarding deaths in 10 years.

In 2018, findings by Nicolas Bailly, PhD concluded in his publication on the: "Effect of Helmet Use on Traumatic Brain Injuries and Other Head Injuries in Alpine Sport" the following: "This study confirms the effectiveness of helmets in protecting users from head injuries but questions their effects on TBI, especially concussion." [4].

TBI in case you're unaware, means Traumatic Brain Injury; in this research, the author highlights that helmets significantly reduce the chance of sustaining a head injury but has questionable effects when the injury involved a concussion or traumatic brain injury.

"Temporal Bone Skull Fracture" by James Heilman, MD is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.



And finally, there's the topic of fashion: It's a stereotypical sight to see people snowboarding and skiing with helmets on; however, for sandboarding it looks as if the higher a dune you're on, the more likely you are to wear a helmet due to the unfamiliarity of the dune. For example, back in 2019 I trained at the Dune of Pilat in France; the first few times I would have worn my helmet just in case I hit a bump I didn't see or I gained more speed than predicted; but a few runs in (and because it was still 30 degrees centigrade in the evening), I was comfortable taking the helmet off.

Speaking of weather, Sandboarding in some situations would take place in a desert, therefore a lot of sandboarders just ditch the helmet because of the intense heat.


My Conclusion:

Ultimately, if your concern is safety or because you're a law (or in most cases, policy) abiding citizen; I'd put the helmet on. If you're in a particularly hot environment or if you consider yourself to be a professional and you know what you're doing, I'd ditch the helmet.

If it's my first time on a dune, even though I'm more likely to have an injury on snow than sand, I'd try the helmet for the first few runs just in case and if it's a hot day, I'd leave the helmet at home altogether.

References:

[1]: Reynolds, C. (2010) Poll: Want a helmet with those skis or snowboard? These days, most do [Updated], Available at: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2010-dec-16-la-trb-ski-helmets-2010-12-08-story.html#:~:text=California%20and%20New%20Jersey%20have,agencies%2C%20not%20to%20resort%20operators. (Accessed: 28th May 2021).

[2]: MountainHeaven (2016) Are ski helmets compulsory in France?, Available at: https://www.mountainheaven.co.uk/blog/are-ski-helmets-compulsory-in-france/ (Accessed: 28th May 2021).

[3]: Everson, Z. (2015) How not to break your neck sandboarding in Doha, Available at: https://www.foxnews.com/travel/how-not-to-break-your-neck-sandboarding-in-doha (Accessed: 10th June 2021).

[4]: Bailly, N. (2018) Effect of Helmet Use on Traumatic Brain Injuries and Other Head Injuries in Alpine Sport, Available at: https://www.wemjournal.org/article/S1080-6032(17)30320-4/abstract (Accessed: 10th June 2021).

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Top 10 Sandboarding Countries of 2020

It's that time again! I do this every year and I have a look at the best places to go Sandboarding around the world; In case you haven't heard, there's been a pandemic; so this year has been largely bad for the Sandboarding scene because there's been travel bans in place across the world; Some of you may be aware that I was meant to visit Denmark days before the lockdown went into full swing in my native UK; however I did manage to visit Italy for a weekend in September just for casual tourism. On the whole, Sandboarding has been subject to event cancellations, social distancing, sanitation rules, different locations, digital forms, quarantining, and wearing masks just to name a few rules (subject to location).


Because of the very brief but valuable window for travel, I'm still making a list but it should be known that it's mostly irrelevant because for most of the year; no-one has been able to go anywhere but this has been an annual list and countries change; therefore, I'll be constructing a Top 10 Sandboarding countries list of 2020 but hopefully when international travel opens up, this list would hopefully influence your choices. I won't be including the World Happiness Report in my list anymore as it specifically ranks the capital cities of the countries and not the country as a whole. I will be measuring up the Crime rate, Cost of Living, Internet Speed, Quality of Life, Pollution Index, and Healthcare Index. This year was mainly a shambles and to be honest, where there has been so little in terms of travel and sport, this years' list will still go on but it will be condensed with no information. If I had a chance to not do this years' list, I would have not compiled a list because this year has been a shambles I will compile a basic list.



#10 Croatia (appeared in 2018; highest position: 3rd, 2018)

#9 France
(appeared in 2015 & 2019; highest position: 5th, 2015)

#8 United States of America (appeared in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019; highest position: 1st, 2017)

#7 Canada (appeared in 2019, highest position: 3rd, 2019)

#6 Germany (appeared in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019; highest position: 4th, 2015)

#5 Australia (appeared in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019; highest position: 1st, 2014)

#4 Spain (appeared every year; highest position: 1st, 2019)

#3 New Zealand (appeared 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019; highest position: 1st, 2015 & 2016)

#2 Japan (new entry)

#1 Denmark (new entry)

Sandboarding Nation Store will be closing

As of the 1st June 2021, the Sandboarding Nation Store that is being operated via Redbubble will be permanently taken down and Sandboarding Nation products will no longer be sold. This is due to the lack of demand for our goods with our logo. The decision was made after Sandboarding Nation goods have been sold at a loss since 2016 and as an independent one man project, I cannot afford to maintain and oversee the upkeep of these products.


The store will remain open until that date but all products must be purchased before the closing date of the store, otherwise the Sandboarding Nation products will not be available for purchase anymore! I'd like to thank the people who have taken the time to look at the store and have taken interest in using Sandboarding Nation goods throughout the years since I have had this blog.


Thank you.

Monday, 14 December 2020

Sandboarding Bites #20

Some places are dangerous for travel, not because of war but disease; Some countries will require a certificate proving you've been vaccinated against certain illnesses, check with a medical professional and/or your country's foreign office before you travel.

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Sandboarding Bites #19

A lot of parks and dune regions will have parking spots, always check you're parked legally and if you need to, make sure you have enough money to pay the parking fee. It'll save you the embarrassment of getting a ticket on your car, and a lot of money from paying a fine!

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

The Secret Sandboarding Life of Denmark

In March, I was excited to be off to Denmark as I booked a holiday to visit Copenhagen, take a train over to Oresund Bridge to Malmo and overall have a whale of a weekend as it was also my birthday. Sadly, due to an unforseen pandemic that was out of my control, I couldn't go and I spent my birthday riding home a new moped I bought instead... That moped ended up being a lemon and I broke down half way home on my birthday but that's not relevant here.

When Denmark comes to mind, I think of the Danish conquest of England, Vikings, King Harald Bluetooth, the birthplace of Lego, and Elia (a very confusing art form that's in rural Jutland). Unfortunately, there's not a lot I know about Denmark (sorry Danes).

But one thing I definitely didn't know about Denmark is that they are a sandboarding nation, not with many sand dunes but enough that I felt that the Danish people deserve an article.

The first is Rubjerg Knude, which is in the Hjørring municipality looks out into the North Sea, more specifically; the Skagerrak which is the strait that is the north of Denmark, the South of Norway, and the South West of Sweden. The dunes here are interesting because in 1900, a lighthouse was first activated but due to the shifting sands in the area, "The Rubjerg Knude lighthouse has been perched on a sand dune on the northern Danish coast, but coastal erosion from North Sea winds threatened to topple it into the sea." (BBC, 2019).


The sand dunes surrounding the small church remind me a little of Kolmanskop in Namibia. They look quite high from photos but if anyone's interested, the tower height is only 23 metres but fantastic scenery of the Jutland peninsula and the Skagerrak nonetheless.

Next up is Råbjerg Mile, which is just over an hour's drive from Rubjerg Knude, and Visit NordJylland puts it best: "The Dune of Råbjerg Mile is the largest migrating dune in Denmark. The west-coast has for many centuries struggled with migrating dunes due to the harsh wind and sand-covered areas - and being close to Skagen, the weather at Råbjerg Mile is far from mild." (VisitNordjylland, n.d.).

"Råbjerg Mile (37)" by Ragnar1904 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The dune isn't too far from Skagen (the northernmost town in mainland Denmark), only a 20 minute drive. If there's a review from Tripadvisor that summarises the dunes, it has to be this from Laylalae: "
We came to Raabjerg Mile from a nearby camping by bikes and loved it from the first moment. An extraordinary contrast when the forest suddenly changes into "a desert" is beautiful. We had a nice clear day and no one on the horizon so we could have all this space for ourselves. And boy, it is quite large, I honestly expected Raabjerg Mile to be a bit smaller.". (Tripadvisor, 2020.)

Up next, we have Rømø Island; an island connected to the West of mainland Denmark by a causeway created by a dyke in 1948. Aside from the dunes on Rømø, you also have the option to explore bunkers, plantations, and beaches whether you want to take a cycle, hike, or just simply drive; you can do it all on Rømø!


"The new row of sand dunes on the beach is an interesting example of Rømø’s ceaseless growth towards the west. In future, the beach will spread wider and wider, and the area behind the sand dunes will change into a coastal meadow." (The Danish Nature Agency, n.d.) Unfortunately, free camping facilities and shelters don't exist on the island; so the true sensation of being one with nature can't happen here. The island does have hotels, so you do have options if you wish to stay; the largest settlement, Havneby only has a population of just over 300.

And finally, there's Skallingen which is on the island, north of Rømø. Situated on a small peninsula near the settlement of Blåvand (Blaavand); these dunes are of a lower height in comparison to some of the others I've wrote on this post. The area around Blåvand including Rømø, better known as the Danish area of the Wadden Sea, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"Skallingen" by Sfdan~commonswiki is a public domain work.



"The Wadden Sea National Park is with its world class nature now the biggest national park in Denmark. Here is spectacular wildlife and the importance of the area extents far beyond the borders of Denmark. A remarkable place to experience the world heritage is either at the bay named Ho Bugt or at the nation’s newest dry territory - Skallingen - an undisturbed and ever changing coastal landscape. The area also holds international significance as a rest stop for millions of migratory birds." (Varde Kommune, n.d.) The peninsula also hosts a golf club and a small zoo.

To conclude, Denmark isn't just a frozen wasteland... In fact, it's not even a wasteland; it's beautiful, it's perfect for anyone who's a fan of nature; along with nice sand dunes at its disposal, the danish nation could very well be a nation with sandboarding cohort! I have managed to re-book tickets for a trip to Denmark and Sweden in July 2021, hopefully this place is as good as it looks!

Reference List:

BBC News. 2019. Danish Rubjerg lighthouse moved inland on skates - BBC News. [ONLINE] Available at: http://bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-50139900. [Accessed 12 August 2020].

VisitNordjylland. n.d. Råbjerg Mile. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.visitnordjylland.com/north-jutland/things-do/rabjerg-mile. [Accessed 3 September 2020].

Tripadvisor. 2020. Rabjerg Mile (Skagen). [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g285705-d10118933-Reviews-Rabjerg_Mile-Skagen_North_Jutland_Jutland.html. [Accessed 20 October 2020].

The Danish Nature Agency. n.d. Attractions. [ONLINE] Available at: https://eng.naturstyrelsen.dk/experience-nature/in-the-countryside/roemoe/attractions/. [Accessed 20 October 2020].

Varde Kommune. n.d. UNESCO World Heritage: The Wadden Sea National Park. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.vardekommune.dk/unesco-world-heritage-wadden-sea-national-park. [Accessed 20 October 2020].

Friday, 31 July 2020

Sandboarding Bites #18

Can you ride here? It's a good call to ask a local ranger, land owner, or a police officer before you can ride a dune.