Physics of Sailing

Author(s): John Kimball

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Breaking down the complicated concepts of speed, acceleration, torque, fluid mechanics, and surface physics, Physics of Sailing provides a lively, easily accessible introduction to the basic science underlying the sport of sailing. It illustrates the many ways physics can be used to understand the principles of sailboat propulsion and how a scientific understanding of the boat, wind, and water can lead to more skillful sailing. After a brief but insightful tour of the history of sailing, the book explores the physics involved in making faster sailing crafts for both upwind and downwind sailing, including Newton's impact theory of fluid resistance and lift and drag phenomena. It compares possible sail shapes, presents measurements of hull smoothness, and describes wind turbulence, the nature of water waves, and the structure of wakes. Using the physics of optics, the author also explains the connection between water's appearance and the wind. Along with a glossary of sailing terms, he includes many examples throughout to illustrate the concepts in practice.
Avoiding unnecessary formalisms, this book skillfully applies the principles of fluid mechanics to sailboat technology and the art of sailing. It should help you become a more knowledgeable sailor.


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John Kimball is a professor of physics at the University of Albany.

Depart, Depart from Solid Earth Why Sailing, Why Physics, Why Both? Origins There's Much More Downwind-The Easy Direction Speed Forces Boatspeed Wind Shadow Acceleration Examples The Speed Limit Upwind-The Hard Direction Overview Iceboats Sailboat Speeds Why Is Sailing Upwind So Complicated? Tipping, Torques, and Trouble Roll, Pitch, and Yaw Torques Centers of Mass, Buoyancy, and Effort Catamaran Iceboat Monohull Staying Upright Steering and Helm Dynamics Upright Mast Personal Torques See How the Mainsail Sets Spinnaker Mainsail and Jib Real Sails What Really Counts Fluid Dynamics Navier-Stokes Equation Viscosity Reynolds Number Boundary Layers Euler Equation Why Are Fluids So Complicated? Surfaces An Example Inadequate Theory Curiosities When Is It Smooth Enough? Waves and Wakes Wave Shape Water Motion Gravity Waves Capillary Waves Damping Wind and Waves Wave Packets and Group Velocity An Example Wakes The Importance of Waves Wind Two Examples Turbulence Wind up High Weather Apologies Strategy Directions Constant Preferred Direction Variable Preferred Direction Current Least-Time Path Light Analogy Mathematical Approach Predicting the Wind Real Sailing Finally Sailing Glossary Index

General Fields

  • : 9781420073768
  • : Taylor & Francis Inc
  • : CRC Press Inc
  • : December 2009
  • : 235mm X 156mm X 25mm
  • : United States
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : John Kimball
  • : Paperback
  • : 797.124
  • : 296
  • : 143 black & white illustrations, 1 black & white tables