Friday, November 04, 2005

The First Leg | Sail Trim 2.0

I think the reason sailing appeals to me so much is my passion for understanding and mastering artforms. Although very scientific and rooted in mathematics, design and physics, sailing is an artform that requires finesse and a subtleness that is mastered like music or painting. It is the feel of the brushstroke and pressure along with the consistency of the mix of paint, or the brightness of a note or feeling the vibration of the string on the violin or guitar that creates the effect. Masters of any artform have an underlying understanding of the fundamental principles that govern their world. It is the colour theory and basic shape theory for the visual artist (the fundamental building blocks of all objects), and the principles of light, material and refraction of light, that enable them to reproduce with stunning realism on the canvas.

Where am I going with this? Understanding sail trim and mastering it requires knowledge of the underlying principles of aerodynamics, the physics of airflow, the physics of lift. I am not an engineer, or mathematician, but consistently reading articles and researching the underlying physics makes it easier for me to understand the feel of the sail and what I need to do to achieve the results I want.

Having said that I have another list of trim and sail theory. Some are a little more in depth and technical but great resources. Here we go:

A great interactive place to start is the National Geographic Volvo sail trim simulation. An interactive flash guide to trim. It allows you to adjust the rudder and trim the mainsail and immediately see the effects on speed on all points of sail. I have this posted on my permanent links so sorry to those who have accessed it there. Think it a great place to review or start.

Another place to start is overall review of the sailing basics. Vega Sailing School, (for catamarans) has a site that explores the basics of Apparent wind, Sail Trim, Changes in the Wind, Balance and has sections on sail trim simplified and a section more in-depth.

Basic fundamentals of sail theory. A good primer. Has good visuals and quite in-depth

Stanford Yacht Research: An explanation of Sail Flow Analysis. Another great in-depth resource for understanding how the wind reacts over the combined main and jib together. Good reference for understanding the slot principle and airflow dynamics.

Sail Twist from Another in-depth look at the jib and how the luff and leech effect the attack on the wind to deflect the airflow over the main. This site has a link to spreadsheets for those who crave numbers and formulas. For those who don't it is still a good read with information that can help in the understanding process.

A technical note from WB Sails which explores the Effects of the Side Bend of the Mast. Will help with smaller boats and dinghies more than the larger boats where stay tuning is more of a factor.

A few sites I have saved till last because they may be repeats for some. US Sailing sail trim article. From the Miami Valley MYC Newsletter, a quick reference guide to trim in different air velocity conditions. And finally a sail trim guide (pdf format) from Quantum Sails. A viewpoint from a sailmaker. Has some good visuals and information.

I will save the really technical articles and published info on sail theory for another post or include it in a separate sidebar.


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