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More efficient, less drag… and a lot more fun! All about SailGP’s new adjustable F50 wing

19 APRIL 2021News

As we welcome the start of a new season, SailGP boasts not only new athletes and new venues, but also some fresh cutting-edge technology.

For those eagle-eyed fans who have been keeping across the training sessions in Bermuda ahead of the opening event of Season 2 - which takes place on the Great Sound this weekend - you will have noticed a new wing on our F50s.

The 18 meter wing has been brought out during training ahead of its debut this season, with each F50 now capable of utilising two different heights of wing with a new adjustable design installed.

The Denmark SailGP Team was the first to hit the water for training in Bermuda

The original 24m wing - used during Season 1 - was fine for racing in lower winds, but became a risky proposition on more blustery days given its size.

The installation of the new adjustable wing system means the F50s can now opt for the smaller wing in stronger winds, which increases the amount of wind ranges our boats can sail in. This means there is less chance of races being called off due to the weather, and also a better chance of better racing in both high and low wind conditions.

Much like the foils and rudder - both of which can be altered depending on the conditions - the wing is now similarly adjustable.

The light air foils and light air elevators have increased surface area, which results in increased lift to make the most of weaker winds. The light air wing also boats a larger surface area, standing at 24m to catch more wind to power the boat.

Opting for the 18m wing in high winds means less surface area and less drag; so although the profile is smaller than the 24m wing, you don’t need as much wind to power the F50. Furthermore, as the 18m wing is smaller it is also lighter, which provides extra benefits when it comes to hitting top speed.

Tom Johnson, wing trimmer for the Denmark SailGP Team, was one of the first to try out the 18m wing during training in Bermuda.

“Yesterday, we had the 18 meter wing on, which is a lot smaller than the wings we were using last season,” said Johnson. “The 18 meter wing has been designed to be used in strong winds, high winds, so we can bring the wind range up in what we are racing in.

“It’s less power and a lot less drag, and reducing the drag ultimately means we can go a lot faster.

“It’s really different. Obviously there is a lot less power, but in 20 knots of breeze you don’t need as much power.

“It’s a lot more efficient, a lot less drag, and a lot more fun!”

The long-term plan is to make these adjustable wings even more versatile, by introducing a 28m wing for use in seriously light winds. These remain a future innovation, however, with only the 18m and 24m wings available in Bermuda.

The eight SailGP teams will decide which wing, foils and rudder elevators to use during the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix depending on the wind conditions on race day. Given the 18m wing is the newest addition to our cutting-edge F50s, it will be great to see the teams utilising the adjustable wing tech when Season 2 gets under way in less than a week.