How can you sail faster than the wind speed?
A combination of natural forces and technology are showing us exactly how to do just that.
A boat does not go fastest when the wind blows from directly behind it, but when the wind comes from the side. With the sails at the correct angle, the force of the wind stays constant, and can allow the boat speed to exceed wind speed.
The cause of confusion is most people think the wind PUSHES the boat. How can you outrun the force pushing you? It’s not always the case that the wind pushes the boat. When a sailboat goes downwind, sure, the wind pushes the boat. When a sailboat goes upwind the wind PULLS the boat. A suction (lift) is created on the forward side of the sail, which pulls the boat forward.
The only limit to the speed is the drag of the boat in the water and the size of the sail. In acutality, given an infinite size of the sail your top speed is also limitless.
The official world sailing speed record was set in 2012 by the Vestas Sailrocket 2. In 25 knots (29 mph) of wind, it averaged 75.32 mph with a peak at 78.26 mph.
Wouldn’t we all enjoy being able to achieve 2.7 times production versus input?
I have been enamored with the America’s Cup racing in San Francisco over the last month. The finals are happening now; USA versus New Zealand. The boats are fascinating and function like giant wings. (I am waiting for the moment when the boat just takes off and flies away). That last thought is not so far-fetched when you consider the sails on the America Cup boats are the same size as a Boeing 747 wing.
Once the boats begin to hit higher speeds the hull begins to plane and the hydro-foils take over. Since water is 800 times denser than air, it doesn’t take much of a foil to lift the 7 ton sailboat.
These boats define efficiency. They are the leading edge of design and operate on the razors edge; between strength and speed. It is not a bad way to run your life.
There are plenty of analogies I can gently sway you to at this point… Imagine your body is the sailboat’s hull, either dragging you through the water or floating above it… The food you eat is the wind that powers you along… The better the nutrition the better the faster you go…
However, the most powerful message is not an obvious one.
Imagine the entirety of your life as a timeline; from birth to grave. This is your race course. The easiest route, is to sail downwind with the wind at your back. It’s a straight line and requires little effort but it does limit your speed to a 1:1 ratio. You are not going to outrun the push from behind. Perhaps this analogy can be interpreted as simply being content with the bare minimum effort. Easy peasy.
Exploring what happens when you change course a bit is the exciting part. When you veer off the predetermined track and take a more dynamic approach to your life. When the push becomes a pull and the sails begin to generate their own wind. Now you are right where life is supposed to be lived; when physics enhances your life experience at a 2.7 to 1 ratio.
“We cannot control the direction of the wind, but we can adjust our sails.” Do just that. Adjust your sails and live life to the fullest, get up on that edge, lift off.