Developments of an Interactive Sail Design Method

S. M. Malpede, M. Vezza


This paper presents a new tool for performing the integrated design and analysis of a sail. The features of the system are the geometrical definition of a sail shape, using the Bezier surface method, the creation of a finite element model for the non-linear structural analysis and a fluid-dynamic model for the aerodynamic analysis. The system has been developed using MATLAB(r). Recent sail design efforts have been focused on solving the aeroelastic behavior of the sail. The pressure distribution on a sail changes continuously, by virtue of cloth stretch and flexing. The sail shape determines the pressure distribution and, at the same time, the pressure distribution on the sail stretches and flexes the sail material determining its shape. This characteristic non-linear behavior requires iterative solution strategies to obtain the equilibrium configuration and evaluate the forces involved. The aeroelastic problem is tackled by combining structural with aerodynamic analysis. Firstly, pressure loads for a known sail-shape are computed (aerodynamic analysis). Secondly, the sail-shape is analyzed for the obtained external loads (structural analysis). The final solution is obtained by using an iterative analysis process, which involves both aerodynamic and the structural analysis. When the solution converges, it is possible to make design modifications.


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ISSN 1210-2709 (Print)
ISSN 1805-2363 (Online)
Published by the Czech Technical University in Prague