How does sailing work?

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โˆ™ 2014-03-03 19:51:53

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Answer 1

A sailboat gets its forward motion by a combination of the wind on its airfoil shaped sails and the counter-acting effect of the keel in the water. Except when the wind is nearly directly behind the sailboat, the sailboat is pulled forward by the low pressure area created on hte curved side of the sail as the wind goes around the sail. The wind doesn't simply push the boat sideways, because the keel in the water counteracts the sideways force on the sail and converts it to forward motion.


Answer 2

""The wind doesn't simply push the boat sideways..."

Effectively it does, which is why a beam reach is the fastest point of sail. A sail's foil shape makes use of more points of sail, but any sail is most effective when presenting lateral resistance to the wind. That lateral resistance is converted to forward motion by the greater lateral resistance offered on the keel by the water, yet one still needs to compensate for leeway when navigating, despite the forward speed.

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