Re: Why is beam reach (or near to it) the fastest point of sail?
It puzzled me at first, and still does.
I understand that it is possible to drop more pressure across the sail surface by accelerating the airflow across the leeward side than by (downwind) using the sail as a barn door and so decelerating the air past the sail barrier rather than accelerating it across a curved surface.
It is facinating to know that my ship is fastest when the apparent wind is slightly ahead of me. It can get a bit wet sometimes in deep water as those waves tend to be wet when they hit. Downwind, broad reaching, things are easier.