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How do sailboats work?

October 23rd, 2019

Do you know how a sailboat sails? If you are thinking of buying a boat you should know all the maintenance costs and the operation of your new boat; for its part, if you want to live a unique experience you can also choose to rent a boat of these characteristics. In this post we explain everything about how a sailboat works.

How are the sails of a boat used?

A sailboat needs the energy of the wind to be able to work. The wind enters the luff and travels to the leech, the end of the sail that runs from the bottom to the top of it. There the air flow is divided into its two faces: the windward, concave part, and the leeward, convex part.

Un velero con velas

The wind travels faster on the leeward side, causing a different speed that produces a pressure difference. This produces a force that goes from the highest part of the pressure to the lowest, which concludes in the movement of the boat.

Therefore, the greater the curvature of the sail, the greater the difference in pressure and the greater the force generated, i.e. the greater the movement of the boat.

What is the function of a boat’s sails?

The sails of a boat are the engine of the boat, they are the fundamental element for the ship to navigate.

What are the sails of the sailboat called?

Normally, a sailboat consists of a mast and two sails: the stern and the jib. The first is located at the stern of the boat and is the largest, while the jib sail is at the bow of the boat and is known as the genoa.

The mainsail is attached to the mast and boom, a horizontal mast attached to the mast. Today, many jib sails tend to be larger than the jib.

How is a sailboat propelled?

As you can imagine, a sailboat is not driven solely and exclusively by the force that the wind exerts on the waves, if so they would be unwieldy.

At present, if the sailboat receives the flow of air through the wind, it circulates through the curvature of the sail; at that moment, it crosses the leeward side of the sail and causes an acceleration. Deceleration occurs when the wind passes through the concave part of the sail.

Why is the shape of the sail important?

The shape of the sail is fundamental to understanding the sailing conditions you must establish at any given time.

  • Depth of sail. The curve that describes the sail. The greater the depth, the greater the power. It is necessary to find a relationship between lift and drag.
  • Bag. The area of maximum depth of the sail. Not only is the power it generates important, it is also important to know in which part of the sail that power is located.
  • Luff. There is the possibility of installing flat luff, perfect for medium wind. For its part, the round luff gives greater freedom and is ideal for a less critical condition.
  • Baluma. Variation of the height with respect to the angle of attack. In strong winds it allows the sail to discharge the excess air produced by heeling.
  • Apparent wind. The one that really influences navigation. When you increase or decrease the speed, the apparent wind varies the direction a few degrees. It is the vectorial sum of the real wind and the relative wind.