"One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time." -Andre Gide

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Whichever Way the Wind Blows

“I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

Apparent Wind vs. True Wind Direction

During a sailing race last week we made a couple of bad tacks to the first mark that put us back a bit in the pack. After thinking for a bit, the problem was too much steering correction to "apparent" wind changes nstead of sail tension correction. On the 40 ft Choey Lee, we couldn't adjust the sails as constantly as on a 4 meter daysailor, but we were being really lazy sailors and paid for it.

What is true-wind and apparent-wind?

The true-wind is the apparent wind which you feel when you are not moving, for example at anchor.  The apparent-wind is the wind direction and speed which you feel while the boat is moving. As you speed up the wind on your face seems to come more forward on the the boat and this is really true during gusts as the picture below shows. The best overview I have found is a http://www.answers.com/topic/apparent-wind

We were racing in light wind conditions with frequent gusts. During the gusts instead of pulling in the sails we would "fall off" (steer away from the wind). This would put us farther and farther off our desired point of sail (direction we wanted to go). We were basically making 180 degree tacks, resulting in us just going back and forth making minimal forward progress.

Proof once again that being lazy as usual only serves to create more work.

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