Project Summary

Sailboats using canting keels have the status of being the world’s fastest ocean going monohulls.  However, there are inherent problems.  Canting sailboats require the addition of canards or dagger boards to replace the loss of the primary underwater lifting surface, adding significant complexity to the vessel.  The second and more important issue is that the cantilevered weight of the ballast bulb at the end of the keel generates tremendous loads on the vessel.  Moving, or canting, the keel requires the use of large hydraulic rams to generate the necessary forces.  Because of the added complexity and support structural required to manage these loads, canters are prone to catastrophic failures which often endanger the vessel and crew.  Is there a better way to generate righting moment by using something other than lead ballast weight alone?

My objective is to test a concept I patented to make sailboats even faster and safer than the current state of the art sailboat designs.  To test the concept, I built a remote control functional model fitted for both canting and hydrodynamic keels. I also, constructed an open flow bench to test the model at speed.  

My results show that the hydrodynamic keel out performs the canting keel both upwind and downwind.  Sailing up wind, the lift to drag coefficient for the hydrodynamic keel is .3160 compared to .2889 for the canting keel.  Mean net drag for the hydrodynamic keel downwind, was measured to be .0228 compared to .0913 Newtons for the canting keel.

The Wing Keel


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