During the development of new stability regulations for the U.K. Department of Transport, doubt was cast over many of the assumptions made when assessing the stability of sailing vessels. In order to investigate the traditional methods a programme of work was undertaken including wind tunnel tests and full scale data acquisition. The work resulted in a much improved understanding of the behaviour of sailing vessels and indeed indicated that the conventional methods of stability assessment are invalid, the rules now applied in the U.K. being very different to those in use elsewhere.

The paper concentrates on the model test techniques which were developed specifically for this project but which will have implications to other vessel types. The tests were of two kinds: measurement of the wind forces and moments on a sailing vessel; and investigation of the response of sailing vessels to gusts of wind.

For the force and moment measurements models were mounted in a tank of water on a six component balance and tested in a large boundary layer wind tunnel. Previous tests in wind tunnels have always concentrated on performance and the heeling moments have not normally been measured correctly. As the measurements of heeling moment at a range of heel angles was of prime importance a new balance and mounting system was developed which enabled the above water part of the vessel to be modelled correctly, the underwater part to be unaffected by the wind, and the interface to be correctly represented without interference. Various effects were investigated including rig type, sheeting, heading, heel angle and wind gradient.

The gust response tests were conducted with Froude scaled models floating in a pond set in the wind tunnel floor. A mechanism was installed in the tunnel which enabled gusts of various characteristics to be generated, and the roll response of the models was measured with a gyroscope. These tests provided information on the effects of inertia, damping, rolling and the characteristics of the gust.

Sample results are presented to illustrate the uses to which these techniques have been put.

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