Summer Sand Skiing

Sand-skiing by Alfred Bestall


Impatient for snow in the summer months, fans of falling down mountains thought sand hills may supply similar thrills. Sand, of course, has the added advantage of permanence whereas the white stuff is rather annoyingly prone to icing over or simply disappearing altogether. And with the thermometer hovering well above freezing, long toned limbs can be flaunted in sporty shorts and skimpy tops. A fag spouting from pouting red lips is optional for this look – after all it’s easy to look cool just posing at the side of the piste. Getting from top to bottom in one piece, however, is quite another matter. Check out the entertaining vintage footage on the film page – even now worthy of a slot on TV’s ‘You’ve Been Framed’.  Interestingly, the illustration was, more than likely, based on the coastal sand dunes of North Wales – close to where illustrator Alfred Bestall often holidayed – rather than any chic beach well south of the white cliffs of Dover.


Sand skiing was popular in the sunshine state of Florida too. These shots were taken at Fort Meade back in the 1950s. The skis were probably towed behind a boat when they weren’t careering down sand dunes.


Sand skiing Florida


Sand skiing Florida 1


Sand skiing Florida


Unfortunately, one of the big drawbacks of skiing down sand dunes is getting up those sand dunes in the first place. Just like the early snow skiers, the downhill thrill has to be earned. However, the lucky beach boys and girls of Fort Meade enjoyed the luxury of a lift – seated on a sledge which appears to be made out of a flight of stairs and towed behind a caterpillar truck. Ingenious!


Sand ski lift Fort Meade in Florida


Since then of course, in the land of sand and at sheikh sized expense, Dubai chose to ski on snow instead. Well, any excuse to don a jolly vintage ski jumper…


My thanks to Florida Memory for the fun photos.
The beautiful illustration above was reproduced from “The Life & Works of Alfred Bestall” by Caroline G Bott. A wonderful tribute and biography of one of my favourite illustrators.

3 thoughts on “Summer Sand Skiing

  1. Pingback: Vintage skiing with the creator of Rupert Bear | Vintage Ski Style

    • I had heard about sand surfing but not skiing. It looks completely bonkers – check out the clips on the film page Janine. Can’t image the piste poseur above risking ruffling that immaculate bob actually attempting a run. The Pathe News footage, by the way, was shot in your half of the world, on the dunes at Cronulla beach – which is near Sydney, I think? Looks like they abandoned the sport in the 60s – no doubt much to the relief of the local hospital…

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