Could a fan in front of a sailboat improve sailing?
Hello. Newbie here.
A question sometimes asked is that if you have a large fan on a
sailboat blowing forward into the sails would that propel the boat
forward? The usual answer given is no because the fan blowing air
forward would produce momentum propelling the boat backwards. This
would swamp the effect of an effective wind acting on the sails.
But suppose instead you had the fan blowing rearward into the sails?
In this case the momentum would propel the boat forward. Furthermore by
using the method of tacking into the wind, the wind blowing into the
sails could produce a force with a forward component as well. Then the
acceleration forward should be higher than that produced by the
momentum flow of the fan alone. The speed could also be higher than the
speed of the air created by the fan.
Could this work?