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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Scottish sailing engineers have designs on world speed record

The Engineer
Jan 23, 2012

The Abaqus software enabled Clarke’s team to consider many wing-sail design variables.  Credit: The Engineer

Simulation software from Dassault is being used to help a team of engineers get its extreme sailing boat - the V-44 Albatross - off the ground

The thrilling world of speed-sailing is responsible for some remarkable engineering innovations.

Back in September 2009, L’Hydroptere, a 60ft trimaran that ’flies’ above the surface on two fin-shaped hydrofoils, set a new world record for D-class vessels of 51.36 knots.

More recently, The Engineer reported on the Vestas SailRocket II, a glider-inspired boat with designs on the outright unpowered 500m record of 55.65 knots.

Now, in a bid to push the performance of extreme sailing boats even further, a team of Scottish engineers is using advanced simulation software to design and develop a bizarre-looking vessel that the engineers believe could soon break the near-mythical 60-knot barrier.

The boat, dubbed the V-44 Albatross, is the brainchild of Tim Clarke, engineering team leader at Scottish engineering consultancy Prospect Flow Solutions and founder of Verney Yachts.

Clarke explained that his idea was to create a single-hull craft and equip it with two wing-sails – structures that are literally a cross between a wing and a sail.

Made from composite materials, these wing-sails are able to switch both position and function as the boat tacks, becoming either a wing if horizontal to the water or a sail if vertical.

The approach has been tried before. The BMW Oracle, a trimaran sailboat, crushed its America’s Cup competitor in February 2010 using a wing-sail, while the Greenbird, a wing-sail-equipped land-yacht, set a new wind-powered land speed record of 126.4mph back in March 2009.

One of the challenges of developing a wing-sail is ensuring stability. While a conventional aircraft wing needs a tail to provide stability, this would add too much weight to a boat so wing-sail vessels typically achieve stability in other ways. For the BMW Oracle, a motorised trailing flap on a two-part structure was used, while the Greenbird deployed counterweights on the leading edge.


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