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August 5, 2013 Uncategorized

Power of heeling

When learning how to sail, novices are put off at first because the boat tends to list to one side, called heeling. The gyroscope in our brain takes a few moments to adjust, and people ask if the boat will tip over. (The answer is no. Even in a big gust, a modern sailboat will quickly round up into the wind.) The boat should heel 5 or 10 degrees, and as it does it picks up speed. Shortly, the correlation between heeling and speed becomes apparent. Sailors then push for more speed, and the brain has adjusted nicely. The limit is 15 degrees, since there’s no more advantage in speed or comfort.

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