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published by the University of New South Wales
written by Joe Wolfe
This multimedia lesson for introductory physics explores the forces that cause modern sailboats to move against the wind. It explains how boats can sail at 40 degrees into the wind through counteracting lift forces generated by the sails and the keel. Also provided are links to a sailing simulator and articles on sailboat technology.

Editor's Note: This lesson provides a great opportunity to investigate Bernoulli's Principle in action. See "Related Materials" for a 5-minute video on the physics of sailing, plus an article from "Physics Central" discussing how modern boats can sail faster than the wind.

This tutorial is part of the PhysClip collection of web-based resources on introductory mechanics, electricity, and magnetism.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Newton's Second Law
= Force, Acceleration
Fluid Mechanics
- Dynamics of Fluids
= Bernoulli Force
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Curriculum support
= Tutorial
- Audio/Visual
= Illustration
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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Intended User:
Educator
Formats:
text/html
image/gif
Access Rights:
Free access
Restriction:
© 2002 School of Physics, University of New South Wales, Australia
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Australia License.
Keywords:
Bernoulli, drag, force, force interactions, lift force
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created October 1, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
October 1, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
August 31, 2008

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4F. Motion
  • 6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.
  • 9-12: 4F/H4. Whenever one thing exerts a force on another, an equal amount of force is exerted back on it.

8. The Designed World

8B. Materials and Manufacturing
  • 9-12: 8B/H1. Manufacturing processes have been changed by improved tools and techniques based on more thorough scientific understanding, increases in the forces that can be applied and the temperatures that can be reached, and the availability of electronic controls that make operations occur more rapidly and consistently.
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Record Link
AIP Format
J. Wolfe, (University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2002), WWW Document, (http://www.physics.unsw.edu.au/~jw/sailing.html).
AJP/PRST-PER
J. Wolfe, Physclips: The Physics of Sailing (University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2002), <http://www.physics.unsw.edu.au/~jw/sailing.html>.
APA Format
Wolfe, J. (2008, August 31). Physclips: The Physics of Sailing. Retrieved April 23, 2014, from University of New South Wales: http://www.physics.unsw.edu.au/~jw/sailing.html
Chicago Format
Wolfe, Joe. Physclips: The Physics of Sailing. Sydney: University of New South Wales, August 31, 2008. http://www.physics.unsw.edu.au/~jw/sailing.html (accessed 23 April 2014).
MLA Format
Wolfe, Joe. Physclips: The Physics of Sailing. Sydney: University of New South Wales, 2002. 31 Aug. 2008. 23 Apr. 2014 <http://www.physics.unsw.edu.au/~jw/sailing.html>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Joe Wolfe", Title = {Physclips: The Physics of Sailing}, Publisher = {University of New South Wales}, Volume = {2014}, Number = {23 April 2014}, Month = {August 31, 2008}, Year = {2002} }
Refer Export Format

%A Joe Wolfe
%T Physclips: The Physics of Sailing
%D August 31, 2008
%I University of New South Wales
%C Sydney
%U http://www.physics.unsw.edu.au/~jw/sailing.html
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%A Wolfe, Joe
%D August 31, 2008
%T Physclips: The Physics of Sailing
%I University of New South Wales
%V 2014
%N 23 April 2014
%8 August 31, 2008
%9 text/html
%U http://www.physics.unsw.edu.au/~jw/sailing.html


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Physclips: The Physics of Sailing:

Covers the Same Topic As Teachers' Domain: The Physics of Sailing

A 5-minute video that explains the aerodynamic forces exerted by modern sailboats that generate forward movement.

relation by Caroline Hall
Covers the Same Topic As Science Daily: Physics of Sailing

This online magazine article with accompanying video podcast tackles the question of why modern sailboats can generate speeds faster than the wind.

relation by Caroline Hall

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