Saturday, February 13, 2010

About that wing sail

The wing sail was a big part of the story yesterday, and in the days and weeks leading up to race one, the team had been briefing media about the USA and its unique sail. Team Communications Director Tim Jeffery contributed the following, about one of those briefings…

Members of the Swiss media pack got an unexpected treat earlier this week when they interviewed Russell Coutts at the team’s boatyard. Having asked their questions, which ranged from the AC33 race schedule to what USA is really like when she is let off the leash, they asked about trimaran’s 68m high wingsail.

Instead of a crisp answer, BMW ORACLE Racing’s chief executive ended up giving a thorough briefing about on the aerodynamic theory of the wingsail. Borrowing a notebook and a pen, Russell started sketching the cross section shape of the wingsail elements and flaps. He showed that by adjusting the aerofoil shapes and keeping the flow attached to the wingsail, it can be trimmed to literally ‘bend the wind’.

Leaning on his engineering education, Russell not only explained the fundamentals of aerodynamics, but did so with great clarity.  The enthusiasm he showed in his fascination with the science of sailboat gave Thomas Drayer (Le Matin), Walter Ruesegger (Neue Zurcher Zeitung) and Peter Herzog (Tages Anziger) an unexpected insight into one of the many reasons that’s enabled  Russell to win more America’s Cup races as skipper than anyone else.