What is a wing sail and why aren't they many of them? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 13 Old 11-23-2009 Thread Starter
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What is a wing sail and why aren't they many of them?

To read some of what I've stumbled across on the internet, the wing sail seems to be like the water powered car or the free energy machine. They theoretically point better, provide more power, and even reduce heal (I have no idea how that supposedly happens, what with the apparent center of force moving UP the mast, given the rectangular cross-section of the sail)

So what's the deal? I presume there's a reason that no one offers these things on a production boat?

Thanks.

-- James
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post #2 of 13 Old 11-24-2009
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Wing sails are efficient, but complex and expensive to build and they cannot be "taken down" like conventional sails, creating some interesting situations when moored or docked.

The closest you'll see is a wing mast on some hi perf multis, usually, to which a more or less conventional full batten sail is attached.

Ron

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post #3 of 13 Old 11-24-2009
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Like Faster said, they're awkward to manouver, can't be depowered (imagine yourself caugth in a harsh gale without being able to reef or lower), they're VERY expensive to build since they rely upon complex structures, and are just much less versatile than the plain old standard sail or, a bit more on the performance side, the fully battened sail...

Deeper research would have shown you that wing sails are mostly fit to high performance machines intended to beat straight line speed records (like l'Hydroptére) or otherwise sail under very tight margins of weather conditions and are not at all usefull in ocean crossing or recriational vessels due to their serious limitations in terms of versatility, safety and reliability, the lack of which is always the price of pure speed.

Think of Formula 1 racers. Why aren't those high performance, light and fast engines fit to normal road going family sedans?

Pedro

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Last edited by pedcab; 11-24-2009 at 03:08 AM.
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post #4 of 13 Old 11-24-2009
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All due respect, gentlemen, or ladies, but the above information is dated. Soft wing sales have been around for a few years now, they can be reefed and utilized much like a traditional sail. For the OP- they're coming. The F1 analogy is a good one, just take it a little farther. The reason those engines aren't in everyone's car is because they are new tech laden and constantly being upgraded. Read: $$$$ However, the trickle down in parts and tech is, in fact, on every single Honda that rolls out of the factory. Here is the same thing. The sample group is so small that the results of the "tech" are taking longer and longer to trickle down to us- but it's coming. Another example: remember paying several thousand dollars for a 486 processor? You can get a wing sail right now that would probably be a GREAT cruiser sail, you'd just pay more than my boat is worth for it. Google Wing Sail and look at the first few citations, it's interesting reading.

EDIT: FYI, from one of the manufacturer's websites. (Full disclosure, I have NO interest, financial or otherwise in the referenced company. Information purposes only, and I have deleted the name of the manufacturer.)

Quote:
Better performance in terms of boat speed and upwind sailing
A soft wing sail (made of sail cloth) with Variable Geometry Airfoil.
Hoists and reefs the same way as any standard mainsail
Simple trimming and handling
Simple manipulation of the wing sail's camber
Facilitates short and single handed sailing
Uses conventional marine hardware, available anywhere

Last edited by flitemdic; 11-24-2009 at 05:23 AM. Reason: added recent info
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post #5 of 13 Old 11-24-2009 Thread Starter
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1.) I'm sorry about the topic name, but apparently can not change it.

2.) as flitemdic mentioned, there are a few soft wing sails I've found which claim to be reefable, droppable, etc. Of course, of the websites I saw, NONE actually have a place to just purchase one. In part, I'm sure this is because of the extensive changes they require (unstayed rigs, etc) but I'm sure another part of it is that all the people who make them seem to be a bit... what's the polite way of saying it... outside of the norm.

It's a shame too, as I'd love to mess around with one.

-- James
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post #6 of 13 Old 11-24-2009
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I found companys that have done ONE large boat and never been able to take it beyond that at least on mono-hulls

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post #7 of 13 Old 11-25-2009
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Wing sails are rarely found on production boats due to the complexities and cost they add to the boat. While there are "soft" wing sails out there, very few are actually available or on the market. Most wing sails are rigid and are used, as previously mentioned, on very specific use boats. IIRC, the new BMW-Oracle 90 trimaran has one...again, it is a very specific use boat and a one-off.

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post #8 of 13 Old 11-25-2009
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I reinforce my opinion:

Dispite the promised increase in overall performance, which I seriously doubt in the case of "soft" wing sails, to belive in wing sails as being the promised land of upwind sailing and the end of all evil for sailors is, at minimum, unrealistic optimism.

My cepticism begins where fully battened sails end, since as far as I´m concearned that is today the realm of the performace Vs. simplicity Vs. relyability delicate balance.

Being a young old fashioned sailor I am even afraid, for instance, of mast roller furlers. It chills my spine imagining myself beying beat by some heavy weather situation and trying to reef a halfway jammed mast rolling main... I cannot understand why do people still spend money on gadjets that DO slow them down and create failure modes that should have no place on a reliable, sea worthy, sailing boat...

Wing sails? Why? Does everyone who cries out loud for the lack of efficiency of standard sails know how to properly trim them and get the most out of them? They certainly don´t believe that soft wing sails, as a consequence of the hability of being lowered and reefed as claimed, won't need trimming do they?

Remember, a given mechanical (or otherwise) system is only as good and reliable as its weakest part is...



Regards!

Pedro

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Last edited by pedcab; 11-25-2009 at 08:38 AM.
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post #9 of 13 Old 11-25-2009
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Besides, do you think that putting a wing sail on your conventional hull will drive you any faster than your conventional sails will? I can reach hull speed with my blown-out old sails in 10 kt of wind. What possible benefit could I get from a wing sail without a fancy new hull to go with it?

s/v Laelia - 1978 Pearson 365 ketch
s/v Essorant - 1972 Catalina 27
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post #10 of 13 Old 11-25-2009
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Well

I looked at the polars on one boat and with a standard rid we can do 28 deg apparent wind before are VMG really gets killed they claim 20 BUT the VMG is also falling off pretty bad at that point

Now if it could sail at 20 deg it would be a prety sweet

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