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A Wing Sail for Under $1,000! By Chuck Taylor

The America’s Cup made wing sails famous. They were proven during the 2010 America’s Cup in Europe with races that were not even close—when the chase boats could barely keep up with the loser. The wing sails pointed closer to the wind, and footed faster in a raw display of power. The latest America’s Cup 45s use the same design on a slightly smaller scale—and have been clocked at over 30 knots.

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Sun/Rain awning, self supported, no halyard. Rigid, folding, flexible frame. “Stands on lifeline”. Waterproof, marine grade construction throughout. Easy up & down. Stows complete in 10"x36" bag. Designed for use in true cruising conditions. Stock models for up to 50ft LOA $300-$800. Custom designs also available. email: 1-888-684-3743 32

September 2012



he major change from the earlier “wings” was the slotted dual wing. As jet engines required planes to have less wing area for lower drag, slotted wing designs were born. These created more lift during takeoffs and landings from a smaller wing. You’ve seen them unfold for takeoffs and landings to create more lift. Using the same principle, the forewing in the America’s Cup sailboats forces more air through the slot, creating tremendous lift while driving the boats. Not unlike the standard, but much less efficient, jib/main overlap. The 2010 America’s Cup race held in Spain was all but hidden to the U.S. public, but with the Internet, many of us watched the videos again and again. Having raced Flying Dutchmen at a young age—and larger keelboats more recently—I really wanted to sail a Wing, but the cost, complexity, and the requirement for the massive support team discouraged me. But after a couple years of development, we now can have wing sails for small boat sailing and racing. Developing the First Prototype Wing Starting out with 3D sketches on the computer, and making small simple balsa models, got me into the wing development. A friend donated three old hulls, an old Snark and a couple of Sunfish hulls, to test prototype wings. The Snark hull was the first modified to allow the mast position to be moved to get the center of effort slightly behind the center of hull and centerboard resistance. The first wing, a single wing, was made from 4’ by 8’ sheets of 1/8-inch-thick Luan mahogany glued to 3/4-inchthick ribs with holes cut in them to reduce weight. The 40pound wing was pivoted at the center of effort around the mast, and thus the main sheet had no “feel” when sailing. Consequently, the first prototype was retired after two sailings, but we learned that the holes in the top wing rib (used

Southwinds September 2012

Southwinds September 2012