A coupled aerodynamic/structures approach is presented for predicting the flying shape and performance of yacht sails in upwind conditions. The method is incorporated in a flow simulation computer program, and is part of an ultimate objective for a simultaneous aeroelastic/hydro analysis in a Dynamic Velocity Prediction Program (DVPP), that will include a 6DOF motion solver, and at some point could include calculations in waves. The time-stepping aerodynamic module uses an advanced vortex lattice method for the sails and a panel method with special base separation treatment to represent the abovewater part of the hull and mast. A coupled inverse boundary layer analysis is applied on all surfaces including both sides of each sail membrane; this computes the skinfriction drag and the source displacement effects of the boundary layers and wakes, including bubble and leeside “trailing-edge” type separations. .

At each step, the computed aerodynamic pressure and skin-friction loads are transferred to a coupled structures module that uses a network grid of tension “cords” in each sail membrane, each cord representing a collection of fiber “strings”. The solution of a structural equilibrium matrix provides the displacements needed to achieve balance between the aerodynamic and tension loads at each grid point as the shape iterations proceed.

Details of the methodology used are presented and comparisons of predicted aerodynamic forces to wind tunnel results and an existing VPP sail model are provided. In addition, predictions are compared to some simple experiments to demonstrate the aerodynamic/structural coupling necessary to predict flying shape. Finally, an outline is given for incorporation of this methodology into the planned Dynamic Velocity Prediction Program.

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