On the uncertainty of CFD in sail aerodynamics

Ignazio Maria Viola, P. Bot, M. Riotte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A verification and validation procedure for yacht sail aerodynamics is presented. Guidelines and an example of application are provided. The grid uncertainty for the aerodynamic lift, drag and pressure distributions for the sails is computed. The pressures are validated against experimental measurements, showing that the validation procedure may allow the identification of modelling errors. Lift, drag and L-2 norm of the pressures were computed with uncertainties of the order of 1%. Convergence uncertainty and round-off uncertainty are several orders of magnitude smaller than the grid uncertainty. The uncertainty due to the dimension of the computational domain is computed for a flat plate at incidence and is found to be significant compared with the other uncertainties. Finally, it is shown how the probability that the ranking between different geometries is correct can be estimated knowing the uncertainty in the computation of the value used to rank. Copyright (c) 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1146-1164
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical Methods in Fluids
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2013


  • sail aerodynamics
  • yacht
  • computational fluid dynamics (CFD)
  • Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS)
  • verification and validation (V&V)


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