Detached Eddy Simulation of a Sailing Yacht

Ignazio Maria Viola, Simone Bartesaghi, Thomas Van-Renterghem, Raffaele Ponzini

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


Wind tunnel experiments on a 1:15th model-scale yacht were modelled with Detached Eddy Simulations, which allowed drawing the topology of the turbulent structures in the sail wake discovering new flow features. Simulations were performed with two different grids and three different time steps. It was found that a leading edge vortex grows from the foot to the head of the spinnaker (foresail), where it deflects downstream forming the tip vortex. The twist of the spinnaker leads to a mid-span helicoidal vortex, which has a horizontal axis almost parallel to the apparent wind and rotates in the same direction of the tip vortex. Vortical spanwise tubes are released from the trailing edge of the mainsail (aftsail) and the spinnaker and roll around the tip and the mid-span vortex of the spinnaker. Vortical tubes are also detached intermittently from the sails׳ feet and these break down into smaller and smaller structures while convecting downstream. For comparison, we also performed a Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes simulation. The comparison between forces and pressure distributions computed with different grids and time resolutions, different turbulence models, and measured with flexible and rigid sails showed similar trends; differences between numerical results were smaller than those between experimental results.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93–103
JournalOcean Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


  • Sailing yacht
  • Sail aerodynamics
  • Delayed Detached Eddy Simulation
  • DES
  • Leading edge vortex
  • Pressure distributions


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