MAX EBB — "E
veryone pick up your copy of the Educator Guide," instructed Lee Helm. We did as we were told. "Now hold the cover firmly." We all followed her directions, expecting her to point out something interesting in the cover art. Or maybe she was going to have us bend the cardboard cover into an airfoil shape, for a lift or drag demonstration. "Now tear the cover off," she commanded as she ripped the cover off her own book, expecting all of us to do the same. We hesitated. "This book costs $59.95 from US Sailing!" someone protested. "Do you really want us to rip off the cover?" "Yes!" she answered. "The cover art is, like, wrong and misleading. Tear it off!" I did as told, having lost enough arguments with Lee to know that it was hopeless to resist. A couple more participants followed my lead, but most of the group refused to deface their pricey course materials. Lee was playing the part of instructor, and I was in the role of a middle school student, along with a room full of adult sailors doing the same. We had all signed up for the US Sailing "Reach" certification, a weekend workshop that would qualify us all to teach the US Sailing curriculum in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as it relates to sailing, at the middle-school
Left: The torn-off cover of the Educator Guide. The upwash ﬂow is bending the wrong way, and the apparent wind angle is unrealistically huge. Right: Lee's alternative cover art. Upwash is exaggerated somewhat to make the point.
level. It seemed like a useful credential for anyone who volunteers in a youth sailing program. Pretending to be middle school students came naturally to this group. But Lee Helm, cast in the role of a USS Reach Instructor as part of the training exercise, must have been channeling Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society. In the movie, Robin Williams' character, a prep school literature teacher, instructs his
The airflow into a sail showing upwash ahead of the sail and downwash aft of the sail.
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• July, 2019
young students to tear the introductory chapter right out of their textbooks. "What's wrong with the cover?" protested one of the workshop participants who couldn't bear to rip it off. "The upwash is all wrong," said Lee. "It's like, the air is being deflected from the low-pressure side of the sail to the high-pressure side, before it even reaches the sail! This is totally backward, and like, violates laws of physics, and like, makes it impossible to explain the advantages of the safe leeward position. It will mess up how kids think about airfoils and sails." "You think middle school kids are going to understand upwash well enough to tell the difference?" asked another participant who did want to deface his book either." "They don't need to know about upwash per se," said Lee, "but kids have a very robust visual memory. That diagram showing the wind bending the wrong way could stay in their heads for years, and make it way harder for them to get a good intuitive understanding of how sails and foils really work." "Lee, I don't see what's actually wrong with the artwork," I said. "Doesn't the sail deflect air to the windward side of the sail, just like it shows? How would the air know to bend the opposite way before it even gets to the sail?"
The July 2019 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.