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How Sailing Works? Necessary Fundamentals Every Sailor Needs to Know

Have you ever wondered how sailboats travel in all directions without using fuel? Are you interested in the aerodynamic aspects of sailing? Well, you should be! A professional sailor must know how their vessel is moving on the water. Read on to find out How Sailing Works …

How Sailing Works? Necessary Fundamentals Every Sailor Needs to Know

Since the first time we used sailboats to conquer the oceans, the question has been how sailing works? how do we use the molecules as accelerators? Well, in this article of Sailingyes, we’re here to offer some insights into the fundamentals of this phenomena.

How Sailing Works? Necessary Fundamentals Every Sailor Needs to Know 

Before getting into details, you need to know that the physiology of sails is a somewhat complicated subject that acquires some basic knowledge of forces, vectors, and body diagrams. However, we simplified the concept to help you understand the concept effortlessly.

Variables You Need to Push a Sailboat Forward

As mentioned above, the scientific aspect of sailing may sound cumbersome to some people. So, we’re not going to get into details of all the mathematical stuff involved in your vacation!

Nevertheless, it’s good to know what makes your boat move forward. So, here’s a list of variables that are included in generating power for your watercraft:

  • True wind velocity and speed
  • Boat velocity and speed
  • Apparent wind velocity and speed
  • Lift on sail
  • Drag force on the sail
  • Total Aerodynamic Force on sail
  • Driving force component
  • Lateral component
  • Apparent wind angle

Physiology of Sails and Winds

We invented sailboats way before getting close to the invention of airplanes. But unbelievably, people are more familiar with how artificial flying objects work rather than how sailing works. That’s why the following physiological explanations are going to use some aerodynamic examples that you may have heard about airplanes.

Consider a sail as a vertical airplane wing. This would be a good head start to understand its function. Comparable to the wings of an airplane, the sail curve resists the airflow (i.e. the wind) which causes a low and high pressure on different sides. So, when wind passes through this curve, some molecules of air face more confrontation than the others. And this phenomenon creates ‘lifting,’ which literally lifts the boat forward instead of pushing it.

A professional sailor would use this matter in advance of the boat capsizes. But a question that pops up into anyone’s head at this point is “how a sailboat resists the power of wind without capsizing?” The answer is provided below.

The Role of Keel in Physiology of Sailing

If lifting can cause an airplane to take off and fly effortlessly, why it can’t do the same thing with a sailboat? Well, the answer is interrelated with a sailboat component that we call “keel.” It’s the counterpart of the sail and remains in the water the whole time, creating the counterpower to resist the lifting.

In fact, if you pull the keel off and start sailing without it, the boat would not move in a desirable direction with enough speed. It would be more of a floating object with a minimum of speed and no controlling option than a watercraft.

But since the keel can create a force on the contrary route of lifting, the outcome would be a straightforward power for the boat.

The Role of Keel in Physiology of Sailing

By the way, the keel is not the only counterpart when it comes to sailboat components. Some small boats are also dependent on the sailors’ weight. So, that’s why you see them running across the board while racing. They use this technique to generate enough balance between the forces and vectors to achieve the highest speed.

The Evolution of Keels and the Rise of Foiling

Classic or traditional keels are large heavy objects like sails—but inside the water. So, the molecules of water would hit it continually and reduce the speed of the sailboat. To overcome this problem, sailing engineers have used different materials, shapes, combined with aerodynamic rules to reduce the resistance. But none of them made a big difference until the foils started to show up.

The Evolution of Keels and the Rise of Foiling

A foil is a component that replaces the traditional keel and helps the boat get rid of the resistance to great extents. It’s a long narrow object that is usually placed at the backend of the hull and keeps it above the water when there’s enough speed.

So, the difference between a keel and foil is that the earlier tries to generate counterpower by keeping the watercraft on the water. But the former does the same thing by trying to keep the hull above the water.

There’s No Boundary in Sailing Directions

While searching to find out how sailing works sounds like an interesting journey, it has some complicated parts that you should be prepared for as well. For instance, understanding how a sailboat can go in almost all directions is a tough question to answer. But this might help you: it’s a more of a myth that you can go in all directions than a fact.

You cannot sail upwind. This would cause a lot of drag and eventually stop your boat from shifting. So, if you’re thinking how sailing works when there’s no chance but sailing upwind here’s a hint, you need to use the zigzag technique.

This might slow you down, but apparently, the only way to move forward while the airstream is aimed directly at the direction of the bow. Once again, you get the highest speed when the watercraft is at a 90-degree angle to the airflow. So, don’t expect high speeds while sailing in zigzags

 

Reference (s):

Sailing Fundamentals

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