On warm summer evenings at most yacht clubs, you’ll often find small groups of sailors furtively clustered around tables arguing the practical physics of various wind-powered boats.
What’s the optimal sail shape, sheet angle, and ‘wetted surface’
for a given race boat and rig under particular weather conditions?
Long after the sun sets and an impressive collection of empty drink glasses has accumulated on the table, a number of predictable “Holy Grail Sailing Questions” usually come up. Here’s a common one:
Can you really tune that boat’s rig and foils
to sail faster than Real Wind? :-)
If you dig back far enough in the history of SLSailing here, you’ll find long discussions and more than a few in-world sailing skills classroom talks by M1sha Dallin, Hans Zinnemann, Owen Oyen and others on sailing physics. They made a much-appreciated attempt to help digital sailors understand basic principles, and how they might be realistically translated into a digital sailing emulation online.
The jump from a RL breeze-driven dinghy to a set of equations in a vehicle force algorithm is, well… not too straight forward. :-)
I’m bringing this issue up just to highlight a year-old, nicely written blog post by Terrance Tao on the RL physics of “Sailing into the wind, or faster than the wind.” For a pretty inscrutable topic with a numbers-laden discussion, it’s impressive that TT’s post prompted 41 thoughtful comments. :-)
If you are interested in RL sail physics or simulation algorithms, you might go visit terrytao‘s blog.
On the other hand… if I ever post another link here about a dry mathematics discussion blog… you have my permission to come over and just shoot me. :-)