Jul 23 2009

Sailing, Physics, and Fluid Dynamics

So, I was thinking of sailing and how the sail works the other day, and then I happened upon an interesting site that gave me some new insight into how the sail works.

This site talked about how the wind flowed across the said and brought up some interesting characteristics that the sail has.  First of all, the sail is a curved surface as it points into the wind.  This gives it the same characteristics as an aircraft wing.  The curvature of the forward surface cause the airflow to move faster across that surface, therefore causing a vacuum (lift) on that surface.  So moving into the wind not only diverts the wind to a direction of thrust, but also causes a vacuum in the direction of the bow also increasing forward thrust.  Interesting…

I now incorporate that into how I sail to try and gain the maximum effect from the wind in a given direction.