The Physics of Sailing

On Canada Day I saw a young boy playing with a small RC boat in the Harris Yacht Pond near Holland Point here in Victoria, BC. This got me thinking about full-size sail boats, how they work, and what I have forgotten about operating them.

Fluid mechanics is not a topic that any of my Physics 11 or Physics 12 students have had to deal with but it does get a bit of attention in first-year physics at UVic. The web offers plenty of material on the physics of sailing but this is the most informative one I have found.

The summer sailing season provides a perfect opportunity to think about vectors and Bernoulli’s principle.

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