Peter Worsley

The limitations of the present forms of wind assistance for ships

and how a vast improvement could be made using headwind power.

The methods used up to this time to assist the progress of ships and boats have severe limitations in that the thrust applied to the craft is only optimal for 2 wind directions, one on either tack.

A glance at this graphic below of the polar of a sailing boat shows that there are only 2 places in the entire 360 degrees where the thrust is at maximum - all other headings of the boat relative to the wind reveal a falling off of thrust until if the wind comes ahead or nearly ahead there is no thrust available.

So a ship wishing to proceed towards a port can only obtain best assistance if the port happens to be in the direction where these optimal wind positions can be used. This is usually with the wind at 90 degrees or more to the course of the ship. - in all other wind directions the wind will provide less assistance.

The systems starting to be fitted for wind assistance are Flettner rotors, Turbosail based systems, wingsails,and kites. All of these systems use the wind coming from the side (90 degrees) to the heading of the ship. There are only the 2 spots within the full 360 degrees where the thrust is at maximum, and on all other headings there is a diminishing of the thrust and complete lack of drive when the wind is directly ahead of the boat. Flettner rotors and Turbosails have the added disadvantage in that the windage (drag) of their vertical towers hinders the ship's progress when the wind starts to come ahead of the craft. Wingsails do not suffer so much from this drag penalty because they can be aligned accurately with the wind or folded down to produce minimum drag.

If the destination of our ship happens to lie in the direction of where the wind is coming from we can obtain no wind assistance using the present systems. How much more useful it would be if our craft could use the headwind to help overcome the headwind and assist our progress towards the upwind port? But it can be done.

Introducing Headwind power

So what is "Headwind power"? Sailors have learned for many centuries that a headwind will push their craft back and prevent progress towards where they want to go - it seems natural and easily understood. "Sailing against a headwind" is a term used even outside sailing to suggest a resistance to progress.

But the power obtained from the headwind could be used to power a boat against the headwind. How so? Sounds impossible doesn't it? Getting thrust from a wind direction and turning the thrust 180 degrees to oppose where the wind is coming from seems to be pushing against something and obtaining a pull in exactly the opposite direction.

The the secret is using the principle of the lever and a fulcrum which we see every day. For example: a seesaw when pushed down at one end comes up at the other end, so a push one way can result in a push in the opposite direction using the fulcrum pivot in the middle.

So it is with headwind power. It has been found that the movement of the blades of a wind turbine at 90 degrees to the direction of the wind, using the fulcrum on the boat, can push the boat in any direction, even directly against the wind, using a propeller in the water.

This is not perpetual motion. There is no power from the headwind possible just by the ship's motion. The headwind has to be greater than the speed of the ship through the water.

If you find this difficult to believe, we don't expect you to believe it is possible just from the explanation given above. You can test it out for yourself by observing the many videos and if you are still an unbeliever you can build a simple model yourself to see the principle in action.

Further tests need to be made such as here:"target="_blank"

Peter Worsley is an experimenter who has built and tested many successful Headwind Craft - please check out his webpages for more information.

Archinaute in France are building a direct upwind craft based on their researches.

Evidence of the power of the headwind has been shown on land by Rick Cavellero where he achieved a speed of more than 2 times the free windspeed directly into the face of the wind powered only by the headwind."target="_blank"

The addition of this type of specially configured wind-turbine to wind assist systems,
will bring a
new dimension to the power obtainable from the wind, and will be a game-changer in the search to reduce carbon emissions from ships.

Further information

Example of a layout of a ship incorporating both headwind power and sidewind power. Thus eliminating any directions where the wind is not favourable."target="_blank"

What do you think? I welcome comments from professional and qualified people and would like to enter conversation on this subject Click here for the comments form.

Click on the links below for further information

Rotary Sailing Directory Proof that it works Harvesting the Headwind