Over the past two decades, the numerical and experimental progresses made in the field of downwind sail aerodynamics have contributed to a new understanding of their behavior and improved design. Contemporary advances include the numerical and experimental evidence of the leading-edge vortex, as well as greater correlation between model and full-scale testing. Nevertheless, much remains to be understood on the aerodynamics of downwind sails and inherent flow structures. A detailed review of the different flow features, including the effect of separation bubbles and leading-edge vortices will be tackled, to provide a comprehensive presentation of the aerodynamics of downwind sails. New experimental measurements of the flow field around a highly cambered thin circular arc geometry with a sharp leading edge will also be presented. These results allow for the first time to interpret some apparently inconsistent data from past experiments and simulations, and to provide guidance for future model testing and sail design.

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