Basic Aerodynamics of Sailing

Aerodynamics behind great sailing is very unusual as most people have misconceptions and might be misguided by the fact that all a sailboat needs to move is the wind. The wind does affect the movement of the sailboat, but the physics behind all this is what counts.

There are two main ways to analyze the aerodynamic forces acting on a sailboat. First and foremost, a sailor needs to check the forces that mainly affect the movement of the boat. Secondly, a substitute vector resolution evaluates how proficient the sail is.

The Lift Force Mechanism
When the wind is blowing in a certain direction at a particular angle from the horizontal, force is expended on the sails. This force is then broken into two directions. One perpendicular to the direction of the wind and the other parallel to the same. The sail, therefore, acts as some airfoil, creating an aerodynamic force whereas the hull, which is in the water, creates a hydrodynamic force. The perpendicular force is the lift force regarding airflow.

The flow of air on the sail is quite similar to airflow on a wing. To move the boat forward, one has to major on elevating airflow at the area. The sails are really flexible therefore getting that push effect is easier. The position of the sail hence depends on the wind direction.

After understanding the airflow, one can now conclude that the two main forces to consider. The one acting on the sailboat as it moves and the one working on the sailboat due to the wind pushing the sails. These two forces have to cancel out for the boat to move without unwanted acceleration.

The sailboat should however not move directly towards the wind as this would cause it to go backward. A recommended angle of sixty degrees should be the upper limit for the sailboat to travel at ease.

Sailboat Tilting
It is not at all times that the wind blows forward or against your course. When the flow is sideways, a torque is created thus tilting occurs. Consequently, a force is experienced, that is vertical to the center line of the sailboat perpendicularly. Due to this force. A clockwise roll affects the sailboat but is balanced by a resultant anti-clockwise torque and the buoyancy force in the water.

Understanding the aerodynamics behind sailing is more complicated than it looks. After mastering the physics behind sailing, it gets interesting and fun realizing you can sail in any direction just by using the ideologies of the aerodynamic lift and the resultant forces.