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Old 05-09-2003
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Factors influencing boat balance

Dear Duane (Mesmer)Ising,

You''ve received two good (???) anwers so far, well, sort of. I know you are oriented towards the engineering/physics world -- which you really need to try to overcome when dealing with the "physics" of sailing. I''m trained in the liberal arts myself, meaning I know a whole lot about nothing in particular. I did take freshman physics to satisfy my science requirement back when, but I must''ve missed the week we studied the physics of sailing. Nevertheless, here is my explanation for what makes a sailboat go.

It''s magic, pure and simple. Somehow the wind blows on the sails, and the boat knows to go with the pointy end first. Yes, the boat does heel over some in the process, and agreed you don''t want too much of that. Excessive heeling spills my Mt. Gay Rum and Tonic for one thing.

Read all the treatises you want, but they only obscure what it''s all about. Yes, it all can be broken down into formulas and theories. But does that really matter?

My advice is this: don''t over-analyze it. Go with it. Be with it. Become the boat. Let your mind go and it will come into focus.
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