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post #5 of Old 12-17-2007
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I've taught sailing as a sideline gig for a few years, and have found aviators to be the easiest to teach regarding why sailboats sail upwind. I know squat about aviation, but understand that for a sailor, "lift" is propulsion, while the ocean holds us "up"; lift for an aviator is what keeps you from falling out of the sky, hence absolutely critical to survival, not just speed.

I'm not saying aviators have a better feel for sailing than others, though they definitely have the understanding of angle of attack, laminar flow, turbulent flow, lift, and stall, when I describe it regarding sails. Some aviators are all thumbs at sailing, some are "naturals"--same thing with non-aviators, in my experience.

I still like that occasional student who catches a puff on a light-air day and accelerates from nada up to 4 knots and really likes it, whose "day" job is flying F-18s at 1800 knots.

I still think learning sailing is more instinctual than intellectual. That said, the aviators start out already understanding (intellectually, if not physically) the science of upwind sailing.
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