There are many factors critical to the success of a Whitbread Round The World Race™ campaign. One of the most significant is the design, construction, and selection of an individual leg inventory of offwind sails.
As a result of the technical challenges to the experimental and computational analysis of offwind sails, shape development for this class of sails has historically relied upon empirical efforts. An added element for any advanced, state-of-the-art, sail development program is the extensive reliance upon wind tunnel results to guide sail shape improvement and leg inventory selection of offwind sails.
Lessons regarding improved offwind sail shapes, construction techniques, use of exotic materials, and sail trim learned or reinforced during the 1997-98 Whitbread Round the World Race sail development program for Swedish Match, are described with particular emphasis placed on the role of wind tunnel testing.