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Float Your Boat!

Nov 19, 2008

The Evolution and Science of Sailing


Float Your Boat!: The Evolution and Science of Sailing
By Mark Denny
The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008
257 pages



Sailor and physicist Mark Denny traces sailing's roots as he explains the science of sailing in language that is clear to anyone. With a bit of humor and easy to understand examples, he demystifies the process of sailing and answers such questions as: What were the key innovations that made sailboats more efficient? How do sailboats travel into the wind? How do you increase boat speed?

Building on the history of sailing, the subsequent chapters are a bit more technical in nature dealing with such specifics as fore and aft motion, torque, vortices and lift. Detailed explanations get to the core of the matter and if math is used to illustrate a point, the reader can easily read around it without missing the plot. Notes, appendix and a good glossary are there for those who may want to dive deeper.

But regardless of how deeply you want to explore the science, Denny's book is an entertaining read for any sailor, or any armchair physicist for that matter.