The WOW factor

Let’s face it: moving a wind-powered vehicle straight into the wind is no easy feat. Sailors have grappled with this problem for as long as sails and boats have been used in tandem, usually with limited results. Given enough tweaking, millions of dollars, and the best sails on Planet Earth, America’s Cup Class boats can sail tight, close-winded angles, but they still can’t sail dead to
Author:
Publish date:
ventomobile

Let’s face it: moving a wind-powered vehicle straight into the wind is no easy feat. Sailors have grappled with this problem for as long as sails and boats have been used in tandem, usually with limited results. Given enough tweaking, millions of dollars, and the best sails on Planet Earth, America’s Cup Class boats can sail tight, close-winded angles, but they still can’t sail dead to windward.

Enter the Ventomobile, a land-based, three-wheeled craft designed by Jan Lehmann and Alexander Miller, aerospace-engineering students at Germany’s Stuttgart University. The two wiz kids entered the Ventomobile in Holland’s 2008 Racing Aeolus, a race for wind-powered craft, which they won.

The Ventomobile is powered by a large carbon-fiber rotor mounted above the craft’s cockpit. The concept is simple: the wind spins the rotors, which in turn spin a series of gears driving a bicycle-style transmission. In order for the Ventomobile to move, the rotor must face into the breeze, so the cockpit is equipped with a tackle system that the driver uses to pivot the rotor assembly with each “header” or “lift”; the driver steers via foot pedals. So far the Ventomobile has hit top speeds of roughly 15 mph, but Lehmann and Miller are planning a 2.0 version that should be faster. Interestingly, Lehmann and Miller had to shape the rotor blades to strike a balance between positive forward thrust and drag induced by the spinning rotor.

Related

IMG_0173

Electronic “Flares” for Cruisers

The United States Coast Guard requires that all boats operating in coastal waters or on the high seas carry a selection of visual distress signals. Almost invariably, such signals include the pyrotechnic type, either handheld or fired from a flare pistol, but surely there are ...read more

M2-HOOK-TOP-AND-CHAIN-1

Gear: M2 Chain Hook from Mantus

Stay Hooked Chain hooks on anchor snubber lines tend to fall off when you least want them to. Not so this latest example from Mantus. The M2 Chain Hook is secured to the chain by a simple elastic strap, so it won’t come off when the snubber loosens. Made from corrosion-resistant ...read more

shutterstock_349918991

Successful Surf Landings with Wheels

“Ready to take the dink ashore?” Never had those words invoked as much anxiety as when my husband, Jeff, and I first moved to the Pacific Coast. Why? Because we had exactly zero experience with dinghy surf landings, and the possibility of being flipped upside down along with our ...read more

Sail2010_597

How to: Find Good Values on Charter Vacations

So, you want to find a great deal on your next charter vacation? Sure, you can scour the internet, hope for Black Friday deals or ask friends. But an even better way to find good prices on charter boats is to go to a boat show. Not only do charter companies like The Moorings, ...read more

leadphoto

Know How: Dinghy Modification

The rigmarole of stretching a cover over a dinghy in choppy water prior to hoisting it on davits can become a very wet business if you’re not careful. Leaning right over either end, trying to stretch a cover over the bow and stern pods can quite easily result in a head-first dip ...read more

25980

Catnapped Aboard a Racing Multihull

It was after midnight when I realized my daysail with Tony Bullimore aboard his giant record-breaking catamaran, Team Legato, was not going to plan. The big cat was en route for a December dash from England across the Bay of Biscay to Barcelona and the start of a drag race ...read more